Washington Babylon — April 22, 2008, 9:02 am

Hillary: We’ll “totally obliterate” Iran

A reader from England called my attention to this item from today’s Haaretz, in which Hillary Clinton–seeking to outdo Barack Obama in the candidates’ frenzied bidding war to be the most “pro-Israel”–promises to essentially wipe Iran from the map if it nuked Israel.

It goes without saying that an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would prompt a major international crisis, however, as Luca Menato, the reader from England, writes:

This [story] from Haaretz reports a response to a question posed to Mrs. Clinton during a breakfast TV interview yesterday. It follows on from the equally unsettling interrogation of both Democratic candidates during the televised presidential debate held last week. Both candidates reassured their audience and the audience further afield that they considered the security of Israel to be paramount and central to their world vision.

Yet that such a chilling question should be posed so regularly and considered so unremarkable by political commentators in the United States is very unsettling indeed. It would suggest that the American public would more readily entertain even more war over their cereals in the morning–even nuclear war–than witness any significant threat to the security of this very particular Middle Eastern nation…

Finally, can you imagine any nation in the world where such a question would be considered reasonable and appropriate during an election debate? Can you imagine the reaction in the West if candidates in Russia, China, India, Japan or Germany responded with this kind of martial rhetoric to media questions over breakfast?

Incidentally, after reading the Haaretz story, read this story as well:

Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal on Monday said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and would grant Israel a 10-year hudna, or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from those areas. Meshal’s comments were one of the clearest outlines Hamas has given for what it would do if Israel withdrew from the territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. He suggested Hamas would accept Israel’s existence alongside a Palestinian state on the rest of the lands Israel has held since 1948.

However, Meshal told reporters in Damascus that Hamas would not formally recognize Israel. “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition,” he said. He said he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during talks Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.

The Israeli government and some of its supporters in the United States are already belittling Meshal’s remarks, but they are fairly astonishing nonetheless. Does this mean that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is immediately reachable? Of course not, and there may well follow a hardening of rhetoric from Hamas. But the very fact that Meshal made such statements is significant, and suggests that the group recognizes it will ultimately need to make compromises in order to reach a political settlement. Unfortunately, there seems to be no senior Israeli officials ready to do the same, and no American political figures, from the Bush administration to the major candidates, willing to seize such an opportunity and try to make something of it.

Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today