Russert starts with Clinton. If Israel concluded that Iran’s nuclear capability threatened its security, would Israel be justified?
Clinton: it’s a hypothetical that we shouldn’t answer at this time. Russert tries to get her to answer, but she resists — she’s talking about Syria. She “strongly support[s]” Israel’s recent action against Syria, based on the information available. Russert tries again, but she refuses to answer. She says that in Syria, there was evidence of a North Korean freighter coming in, etc. — there was real evidence, so the action was justified.
Russert quotes Giuliani — will you promise not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power? Clinton says she’ll do everything I can to keep Iran from being a nuclear power, including diplomacy and sanctions *before* we start talking military options.
On to Obama: would Israel be justified? (same question)
Obama: let’s back up a sec. We don’t know all the specifics on what happened to Syria. But we had erroneous reports leading up to Iraq. We are a stalwart ally of Israel, but it is critical to understand that until we have taken the diplomatic routes including economic sanctions, and until we’ve gathered the international community, we shouldn’t be having conversations about attacking. Giuliani was irresponsible. We haven’t tried the other approach. I make an absolute commitment to do everything we need to do to prevent Iran from developing nukes. But we have to try talking directly to Iran, which we haven’t tried. Personal diplomacy can bring about a new era in the region.
Edwards: the responsible course with respect to Iran is to recognize that Ahmadinejad is unpopular in his own country. Carrots and sticks. Now come back to the Iranian resolution guard resolution (voted today in the Senate). I voted for Iraq, I was wrong. Clinton also voted for it, but we learned a different lesson. I have no intention of giving Bush another grant of authority. Today’s vote [Clinton voted for, Dodd and Biden voted against] was an indication of how we’d act.
Richardson: approach Iran through diplomacy. Fundamental goal should be to prevent Iran from developing nukes. Another cornerstone should be the strength and security of Israel.
Russert tries again on Israel, but Richardson won’t bite.