There were two issues, though, in addition to the much-discussed Syria example, where Clinton’s comments were alarming. The first was her balls-to-the-wall defense of Benjamin Netanyahu. First of all, as Peter Beinart wrote for Ha’aretz, she left a lot of inconvenient facts out of her narrative. She sounded like she was reading from an AIPAC press release—particularly surprising, said Matthew Duss, the new president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, given the way the Netanyahu government has been trashing Clinton’s own successor, John Kerry. “To completely back Netanyahu both on substance—about having control of security in the West Bank—and to do so after several weeks in which the Netanyahu government has really gone out of its way to embarrass and humiliate your successor…that’s really troubling,” says Duss.
The other issue on which Clinton got pretty far out there was on Iran and the current nuclear negotiations. The position she took in the interview—no working centrifuges for Iran, or a very small number of “discrete, constantly inspected” centrifuges—sounds much harder-line than the Clinton of 2010, when she told the BBC that Iran should be “entitled to the peaceful use of civil nuclear energy.” So maybe she’s just being politically crafty here, but that’s not much of a defense. The potential long-term implication is that the Obama administration could negotiate a deal with Iran that would permit civilian centrifuges to operate, and then a President Clinton could come into office and derail the deal—a deal that she, as secretary of state, had helped forge! “Again, it’s troubling to see her weigh in on the side of U.S. hardliners,” says Duss.