The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) released yesterday an updated version of "Eyes on the Prize," a compilation of the views of the presidential candidates on Iran, Iraq, and nukes.
Compiled by Scoville Fellow Danny Hosein, the publication tracks six candidates' stances on the issues over time. Reflecting recent changes in the presidential race, the report includes Clinton and Obama for the Dems, and Huckabee, McCain, Paul, and Romney for the Republicans.
The updated report includes new statements in regard to the Iran NIE, and on the confrontation between Iranian boats and U.S. ships in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Dems, predictably, used the NIE as validation for their support of diplomacy with Iran. From Clinton,
The new declassified key judgments of the Iran NIE expose the latest effort by the Bush administration to distort intelligence to pursue its ideological ends. The assessment of the NIE vindicates the policy Senator Clinton will pursue as President: vigorous Americanled diplomacy, close international cooperation, and effective economic pressure, with the prospect of carefully calibrated incentives if Iran addresses our concerns. Neither saber rattling nor unconditional meetings with Ahmadinejad will stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.
By reporting that Iran halted its nuclear weapon development program four years ago because of international pressure, the new National Intelligence Estimate makes a compelling case for less saberrattling and more direct diplomacy. The juxtaposition of this NIE with the president's suggestion of World War III serves as an important reminder of what we learned with the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: members of Congress must carefully read the intelligence before giving the President any justification to use military force.
On both issues, McCain responded,
Maybe the Iranians think we're weaker because of the NIE. Maybe the Iranians aren't really slowing their export of most lethal explosive devices into Iraq. And I believe the president of the United States made the right statement. He told them that we will preserve the fundamental principle of freedom of the sea, and he will do what's necessary in order to preserve it. So I believe these people -- these commanding officers made the right decision, and I believe that we entrusted their ships and the lives of the people under them in the most appropriate fashion. But don't think that this wasn't a serious situation of the utmost seriousness in one of the most important waterways in the world, because of so much of the world's oil goes through there. The Iranians better understand that the United States will stick to its many years-long tradition of preserving the fundamental principle of freedom of the seas.
The Iranians have no nuclear weapon, according to our CIA. There's no need for us to threaten the Iranians. We could immediately turn the Navy around and bring them home, and I think this would be a major step toward peace.
I think we need to make it very clear, not just to the Iranians, but to anybody, that if you think you're going to engage the United States military, be prepared not simply to have a battle. Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next things you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that.