Now, John Edwards has been the candidate who says what he thinks and not what advisors tell him to. But every once in a while, even the straight talking candidate gets himself mixed up in what he says. Edwards’ comments on Iran at the Israeli Herzliya Conference were incredibly hawkish, what might be expected when speaking to this entirely Israeli audience. Edwards said at the conference that, “All options must remain on the table” I assume that includes military options towards Iran.
Edwards: Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. For years, the US hasn’t done enough to deal with what I have seen as a threat from Iran…..To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table. Let me reiterate — ALL options must remain on the table….
Question: ….Would you be prepared, if diplomacy failed, to take further action against Iran?….Secondly, you as grassroots person, who has an understanding of the American people, is there understanding of this threat across US?
Edwards: ….As to what to do, we should not take anything off the table….As to the American people, this is a difficult question. The vast majority of people are concerned about what is going on in Iraq. This will make the American people reticent toward going for Iran. But I think the American people are smart if they are told the truth, and if they trust their president. So Americans can be educated to come along with what needs to be done with Iran.
Just a few days after the conference Edwards did an interview with the liberal American Prospect where he changes his tone a bit on Iran. Ezra Klein actually asks him outright about what he meant by “options on the table” and Edwards answers by criticizing Bush’s use of the phrase “all options are on the table” calling it “threatening”
Klein: So, I just want to get it very clear, you think that attacking Iran would be a bad idea?
Edwards: I think would have very bad consequences.
Klein: So when you said that all options are on the table?
Edwards: It would be foolish for any American president to ever take any option off the table.
Klein: Can we live with a nuclear Iran?
Edwards: I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet. I think that we have lots of opportunities that we’ve … We’re not negotiating with them directly, what I just proposed has not been done. We’re not being smart about how we engage with them. But I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet. And I think the reason people react the way they do — I understand it, because, when George Bush uses this kind of language, it means something very different for most people. I mean when he uses this kind of language “options are on the table,” he does it in a very threatening kind of way — with a country that he’s not engaging with or making any serious diplomatic proposals to. I mean I think that he’s just dead wrong about that.