Advisors to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are articulating policies with a tougher line towards Iran, Eli Lake of Bloomberg View reported Wednesday.
Lake’s report focuses mostly on former acting CIA director Michael Morell, who said in a speech earlier this week that the United States is “back and we’re going to lead again.” Morell, who is expected to receive a high-level appointment in a future Clinton administration, added that the United States should consider new sanctions against Iran to fight its “malign behavior in the region.”
Morell also raised the possibility of U.S. naval forces boarding Iranian ships heading to Yemen to arm rebels there: “I would have no problem from a policy perspective of having the U.S. Navy boarding their ships and if there are weapons on them to turn those ships around,” he said, though he later acknowledged that this could be questionable under international law.
Morell’s approach, according to Lake, aligns with that of Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan, who told the Truman Security Project in June that “We need to be raising the costs to Iran for its destabilizing behavior and we need to be raising the confidence of our Sunni partners.”
Lake reported earlier this month, based on documents released by WikiLeaks, that in 2013 Clinton expressed doubts that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was truly a “moderate,” as he was portrayed in the media, and dismissed his apparent moderation as a “charm offensive” intended to deceive the West. Additionally, Lake noted that leaked e-mails from last December showed Clinton to be more receptive to critics of the nuclear deal than the Obama administration has been.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a war crimes investigation into the bombing carried out on Wednesday by either the Syrian regime or its Russian ally on a school in a village in Idlib province. The death toll from the attacks rose on Thursday: UNICEF gave a toll of 28, including 22 children, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the White Helmets civil defense group said that 35 were killed.
Ban said, “If deliberate, this attack may amount to a war crime.” Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), echoed Ban and called for action to stop the massive violence, “This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago. Children lost forever to their families…teachers lost forever to their students…When will the world’s revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest expressed the disgust and anger of the United States: “It is an outrage and it is an indication that the Assad regime, supported by the Russians, is plumbing the depths of dishonorable conduct, amoral conduct…At some point the words to describe the sense of outrage are hard to find.”
Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s chief humanitarian official, wrote that he was “incandescent with rage” at the Security Council’s lack of action in light of human rights atrocities in Syria, particularly in eastern Aleppo, which is being besieged by the Syrian government and its allies: Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and various Iranian-backed Shiite militias. O’Brien wrote in his rebuke to the Security Council an account of what life is like for the civilians of eastern Aleppo: “In a deep basement, huddled with your children and elderly parents, the stench of urine and the vomit caused by unrelieved fear never leaving your nostrils, waiting for the bunker-busting bomb you know may kill you in this, the only sanctuary left to you, but like the one that took your neighbor and their house out last night.” He called the failure to stop the bombing of Aleppo “our generation’s shame.”
The Assad regime has carried out the systematic torture and indiscriminate murder of civilians through the use of barrel bombs, massacres, intentional starvation, and chemical weapon attacks, leading to the death of over 400,000 people and the world’s largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
If ISIS or other terror groups expand their operations against Western nations, Europe should look to Israel as “a welcome guide in navigating the difficult moral, legal and tactical terrain ahead,” a Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote Thursday in The Telegraph.
Lord David Trimble, Nobel laureate and former First Minister of Northern Ireland, and Robert Quick, a former assistant commissioner in charge of anti-terrorism for London’s Metropolitan Police, observed that even if ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria, its fighters could still target European nations. Those countries face challenges not only in protecting their citizens, but also in sustaining “our societies’ liberal and democratic values in the face of this brutal menace.”
Trimble and Quick recommended expanded cooperation with “those who share our values and can help us build our capabilities. One country fits this bill better than most – no democratic nation has endured Islamist terrorism to the extent that Israel has. ”
The writers recounted their experience on a recent fact-finding mission to Israel, which they took along with senior figures from the FBI, Australian National Police, and other law enforcement bodies. They found that despite the decades of terrorism that Israel has experienced, the country has “become extraordinarily resilient, coping with stresses until recently unimaginable to European policymakers, while flourishing as an economically successful democratic nation,” and laid out the elements of Israel’s success that should be adopted by European nations.