Pat Foote: Clinton was right on Iran

February 24, 2014 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently expressed her support for the current administration's plan to negotiate with Iran and for withholding further sanctions in support of the negotiations. As a former Brigadier General, I recognize the threat a nuclear Iran poses.

Iran poses one of the greatest threats to global security today. The country's relentless hostility toward Israel presents a constant danger and creates instability throughout the Middle East. Iran's sphere of influence does not end there. The country has been a sponsor of terrorism for decades, leading to a number of attacks throughout the world -- including those initiated by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization supported by Iran.

It is no secret that over the past few years, Iran has greatly increased its nuclear capabilities, rejecting sensible requests from the international community for greater transparency. These actions have resulted in escalating concerns that Iran may be close to generating nuclear weapons. With the threat of Iran mounting, Clinton took action, forming an international coalition to impose the toughest sanctions in Iran's history. After refusing to negotiate for so long, the pressure of these sanctions has forced Iran to the table. Our diplomats are currently in deep negotiations with Iranian officials, with the ultimate goal of finding a comprehensive solution to the international threat posed by Iran's nuclear development. Secretary Clinton's leadership laid the groundwork for these historic negotiations. She is right to continue supporting diplomatic efforts to curb a nuclear Iran.

In my over 30 years in the United States Army - during which I acted as the first woman officer to command an army brigade in Europe and served our country in Vietnam -- I have dealt with issues of international defense and diplomacy. I have been continuously impressed by Clinton's foreign policy work, especially in her position as the country's top diplomat.

Even before she was secretary of state, she advocated for crippling sanctions against Iran. As a U.S. senator, she supported every Iran sanctions bill that came to the floor. As secretary of state, she accomplished the difficult task of convincing Russia and China to agree to the sanctions against Iran, joining the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and creating the toughest sanctions in Iran's history.

This powerful coalition forced Iran to the negotiating table and led to the creation of the Joint Plan of Action - a comprehensive six-month agreement whereby Iran agreed to temporarily halt progress of their nuclear program as negotiations with the State Department are underway. While there is no guarantee that the plan will be a success, Congress has a responsibility not to impede its process. New sanctions could drive Iran away from the negotiating table and dismantle the coalition.

In her four years as Secretary of State, Clinton laid the groundwork for the Iran nuclear negotiations, which could potentially eliminate one of our nation's most perilous threats. She is owed a debt of gratitude.

Pat Foote, retired Brigadier General, served over 30 years in the United States Army, commanding soldiers at the company, battalion, brigade, and major installation levels.

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