In a 2013 discussion with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton argued that the only way to contain a belligerent Iran would be to “bomb their facilities,” referring to nuclear facilities that a future nuclear deal would temporarily shut down.
When Blankfein challenged Clinton, noting that exclusively aerial assaults of aggressor nations have never stopped a war in history, Clinton agreed, arguing that the Iranian problem is too complicated and no one has come up with a better solution.
The conversation occurred in June 2013 at the Investment Banking Division (IBD) CEO Annual Conference and has been made public through the organization Wikileaks. Neither Clinton nor her campaign have denied the veracity of these speeches, released late last week.
Amid a range of topics, Blankfein asks the former Secretary of State about the threat that Iran presents to both regional and global stability. “You know how we would like things to work out, but it’s not discernable to me what the policy of the United States is towards an outcome either in Syria or where we get to in Iran,” he says, asking Clinton to clarify.
After an extended answer on the current situation in Syria (at the time, the Syrian Civil War was two years old), Clinton responds regarding Iran, “Our policy is prevention, not containment.”
Blankfein appears unsatisfied with this answer. “What do you — I’ve always assumed we’re not going to go to war, a real war, for a hypothetical,” he responds. “So I just assumed that we would just back ourselves into some mutually assured destruction kind of — you know, we get used to it.”
“The rhetoric is there, prevention, but I can’t see us paying that kind of a price, especially what the president has shown,” he continues. “We’re essentially withdrawing from Iraq and withdrawing from Afghanistan. It’s hard to imagine going into something as open ended and uncontainable as the occupation of Iran. How else can you stop them from doing something they committed to doing?”
Clinton responds that the solution is “bombing” Iran.
“Well, you up the pain that they have to endure by not in any way occupying or invading them but by bombing their facilities. I mean, that is the option. It is not as, we like to say these days, boots on the ground,” she says.
Blankfein asks of that option, “Has it ever worked in the history of a war?”
Clinton replies, “No.”
Clinton tries to continue to reason that this is still the best possible option in the current situation, and defends herself for helping come up with the current Obama administration foreign policy.
“So that’s what you get paid all these big bucks for being in positions like I was just in trying to sort it out and figure out what is the smartest approach for the United States and our allies can take that would result in the least amount of danger to ourselves and our allies going forward,” she replies, “a contained Iran or an attacked Iran in the name of prevention? And if it were easy somebody else would have figured it out, but it’s not. It’s a very tough question.”
Clinton’s readiness to agree to bombing Iran, a regional heavyweight that has terror proxies embedded worldwide, appears to contradict the tempered image she has tried to create for herself in the campaign, particularly while attempting to smear opponent Donald Trump as a loose cannon. In one of the most prominent attack ads of the Clinton campaign, a worker at a U.S. nuclear facility discusses his need for “self-control” in a president while the ad shows clips from Trump rallies in which Trump discusses having a stern response to international foes.
CNN has compared the ad to one of the 20th century’s most outrageous: Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad, in which the Democrat argued that nuclear war would be a certainty under his opponent Barry Goldwater.