NEW YORK -- On Sunday, Michele Bachmann urged the Pentagon to develop a war plan “immediately” that would evaluate ways to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
"We must accelerate our covert operations and our cyber operations in Iran, and order ... the CIA director to take all means necessary to stop Iran from getting the bomb before it’s too late," said Bachmann, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“And the Pentagon should prepare a war plan immediately to tell us what to do to prevent Iran from gaining those nuclear weapons,” she continued.
But these remarks, which came during a speech at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America, a pro-Israel group, stopped short of calling for immediate military action against Iran.
“I do not take lightly the prospect of committing the United States troop to stop Iran,” Bachmann said. “Only a fool would ever wish for war."
Bachmann repeated that theme during a press conference following her speech, telling reporters it would be “foolish” to rush into war, before adding,: “We must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop Iran. They are the threat to Israel, they are the threat to the United States.”
Iran's nuclear program, though long a concern inside conservative circles, is again in the spotlight since a United Nations report released earlier this month showed Iran has made further steps toward achieving a nuclear weapon.
Finding a medium between “wishing for war” and being “prepared” could mark a new way Bachmann will talk about managing the threat -– allowing her to strike hawkish and practical tones in equal measure on the issue that has become the centerpiece of her foreign policy agenda.
It also sets her apart from Republican opponents who draw a harder line on both sides of the issue. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has called for a joint American-Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Herman Cain has said he doesn’t support the idea of military action against Iran.
Bachmann called on Sunday for a variety of measures against Iran that stop short of military action, including public support for Iranian dissidents, a naval blockade, and a regime of “crushing” economic sanctions that would seek Russia and China’s aid in shutting down Iran’s central bank. (Both countries have financial relationships with Iran.)
Election politics also made a brief appearance Sunday, when Bachmann was forced to address her work as a young lawyer at the IRS.
ZOA’s president, Morton Klein, had woven that biographical detail into his introduction, setting off boos in the crowd.
“To everyone that was mortified in this room to learn that I was a tax lawyer and worked with –- on behalf of –- the IRS,” Bachmann said, “I actually wore a white hat and was trying to be an advocate for lower taxes in that position, not for higher taxes. “
It was a unique reference to her former employer, which Bachmann often eludes mentioning by describing herself as a “former federal tax attorney.”
Bachmann wasn’t the only high-profile speaker Sunday. Glenn Beck received a “defender of Israel” award from the group, delivering a speech that included teary tributes to leaders of the resistance against the Nazis, and a sweeping reproach of the American political left.
“I’ve said George Soros is no friend to Israel,” Beck said, referring to the prominent liberal philanthropist who is Jewish. “Let me add to it: neither is this administration.”