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IRAN: Hillary's threat to "obliterate" in war reverberates

April 24, 2008 |  7:55 am

Castle_bravo_blast 

Better be careful what you say in the heat of a political campaign. It could have global repercussions.

480pxhillary_rodham_clinton_2Presidential contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's vow to "obliterate" Iran, presumably with nuclear weapons, if it attacked Israel on her watch was duly noted in the U.S.

[UPDATE: To see a video and full transcript of the comment, click here.]

Jaded American insiders shrugged off the remark as typical campaign season bluster, filed away with myriad other exaggerations and gaffes.

But it prompted shock overseas as well as headlines from Bulgaria to New Zealand.

The statement triggered alarm bells in the Persian Gulf, which would likely suffer the consequences of any war between Iran and the U.S. In a harshly worded editorial, the Saudi-based daily Arab News trashed Clinton's comment today as insane:

This is the foreign politics of the madhouse. It demonstrates the same doltish ignorance that has distinguished Bush’s foreign relations. It offers only violence where there should be negotiations and war where there could be peace. At a stroke, Clinton demonstrated to everyone in this region that if she were the next occupant of the White House, Iraq-like death and destruction would be the order of the day.

The paper generally stays  true to the line of the Saudi government, which is a key U.S. ally. But criticism of the remark also came from even friendlier quarters.

In the United Kingdom, which has been a steadfast U.S. ally in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as on the issue of Iran, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, a ranking British diplomat, criticized Clinton's remark as gratuitous:

While it is reasonable to warn Iran of the consequence of it continuing to develop nuclear weapons and what those real consequences bring to its security, it is not probably prudent ... in today's world to threaten to obliterate any other country and in many cases civilians resident in such a country.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photos: Image from a 1954 U.S. nuclear test in the Pacific Ocean. (Wikimedia Commons) Hillary Rodham Clinton (Official picture).

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the frictions between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

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