Hillary Clinton today promised that the U.S. would protect the Middle East–implicitly, with a nuclear umbrella–if Iran ever acquires a bomb. This set off some jitters in Israel, where the Defense Minister Dan Meridor thought that Clinton was implying that the U.S. was ready to accept an Iranian bomb. Clinton then said her statement represented no change in the Obama Administration policy–which is that Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.
Too bad. There’s far too much hysteria over the notion of an Iranian bomb, much of it emanating from the Likudnik mad-mullah caucus. I think that we should do all we can to prevent Iran from developing a weapon–it would touch off a nuclear arms race among the Sunni nations in the region. That could mean stiffer sanctions (but it also could mean incentives for Iran to abide by the 2003 Additional Protocol, in which it committed itself to more transparency and comprehensive inspections). But the Obama Administration should not paint itself into a corner, should not say flat out that we’ll stop Iran from acquiring a bomb. Down that path lies madness–or an embarrassing climbdown. I’ll have more to say on how the Obama Administration should deal with Iran in my print column tomorrow.