From the NYT ...
Dealing with Iran is complicated, but President Obama’s policy on the question of whether a nuclear-armed Iran could be successfully “contained’’ – the way the Soviet Union was during the cold war – is simple.
His answer is no.
But in the weeks of preparation for his Senate confirmation hearing to be defense secretary on Thursday, either no one explained that to Chuck Hagel, Mr. Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, or he forgot it. And so on his first outing, Mr. Hagel fell immediately into the trap that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and several other administration officials have complained about in recent years. He became the latest official to send what many inside the administration fear has been an inconsistent and confusing message to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, about whether the Obama administration would, if there was no other option, take military measures to prevent Iran from possessing a weapon.
“It’s somewhere between baffling and incomprehensible,” a member of Mr. Obama’s own team of advisers on Iran said on Thursday night when asked about Mr. Hagel’s stumbling performance on the question during the all-day hearing. The worry was evident in the voice of the official, who would not speak on the record while criticizing the performance of the president’s nominee. For those who question whether the no-containment cornerstone of the Obama approach to Tehran is for real, or just diplomatic rhetoric, Mr. Hagel clearly muddled the message, he said.
Mr. Hagel’s flubbing of the answer was even more remarkable because in his prepared remarks to the committee, which were carefully vetted by the White House and then e-mailed to reporters before the hearing, he got the president’s position exactly right. “As I said in the past many times, all options must be on the table,’’ Mr. Hagel said, in a statement meant to clean up past comments by the former Nebraska senator suggesting that an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites would be so disastrous that it was not a feasible alternative. “My policy has always been the same as the president’s, one of prevention, not of containment. And the president has made clear that is the policy of our government.’’
So far, so good.
But then, Mr. Hagel went down a different road. “I support the president’s strong position on containment,” he said, appearing, perhaps by imprecision, to suggest that the president’s view was that a nuclear Iran could be contained. (Mr. Obama has gone on to explain that containment would fail because other players in the neighborhood – probably led by Saudi Arabia – would race for the bomb as soon as Iran had one.)
Then an aide slipped a piece of paper to Mr. Hagel. He glanced at it, then said: “By the way, I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, it meant to say that obviously — on his position on containment — we don’t have a position on containment.”
That made it worse. So the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, tried to rescue Mr. Hagel. “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment: which is we do not favor containment.’’
Now it's my turn ... what did he say that disappointed the Obama Administration but gave you great confidence?
Last edited by bubbabgone; 02-02-13 at 10:57 AM.
He/she sounded pretty disappointed.
Hagel's statement on the surge was anything but forthright so how that can be considered saying what he believes is a mystery unless he doesn't know what he believes and was saying as much.
Face it ... he's a weak nominee but he may be a malleable lump of clay who agrees with Obama that the USA needs to be taken down a peg or two. Probably what Obama's looking for.
"I want to thank the Emergency Committee for Israel, Sheldon Adelson, and the Senate Armed Service Committee for providing such a compelling vindication of our views. As Rosie Gray amd Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed noted, at yesterday's hearing on Chuck Hagel Israel was mentioned 166 times, and Iran (a problem closely linked to Israel) 144 times. Afghanistan was mentioned only 20 times, and the problem of suicides of U.S. troops only twice. Glad to see that those Senators have their priorities straight. No wonder Mark Twain referred to Congress as "the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes.""
"I am sometimes asked if I have any regrets about publishing our book. As of today, my only regret is that it isn't being published now. After the humiliations that Obama has endured at the hands of the lobby and now the Hagel circus, we'd sell even more copies and we wouldn't face nearly as much ill-informed criticism."
I'd like to thank the Senate Armed Services Committee | Stephen M. Walt
"I understand how politically popular Israel is on Capitol Hill, but its still somewhat amazing just how completely questions about Israel have dominated the Hagel confirmation hearings. Utah Republican Mike Lee used his entire allotted time to press Hagel to explain past statements that appeared to draw a moral equivalency between Israeli military activity and Palestinian terrorism. Ted Cruz had recordings of some of Hagel’s comments on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” played in the hearing room to raise pretty much the same critique. Some Democrats have concerns about Hagel’s views on Israel as well, but its pretty much the only thing Republicans want to talk about. The question is whether GOP senators are using Israel solely to score political points against a nominee who seems virtually certain to be confirmed or whether - as seems highly, highly unlikely - they seriously believe they can use the Israel issue to kill Hagel’s nomination."
Israel, Israel and Israel Some More | TPM Editors Blog
"We have to be thankful to Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of our more theatrical solons, for dramatizing the way in which the Israel lobby intimidates members of Congress: by asking Chuck Hagel if he could name a single Senator who was so intimidated he merely underscored how thoroughly each and every one of them is cowed. The whole spectacle of this public interrogation, with its tiresomely repetitive demands for pledges of undying loyalty to Israel, brought home the truth of Hagel’s remark. Of course Hagel couldn’t say that, but the ugly reality resonated in the immense silence that followed this exchange. Interestingly, Hagel didn’t back down: He said "I don’t know." As to what motivates any particular member of Congress on any specific "dumb thing" they do – well, he couldn’t know, could he? But of course, everybody knows about the Israel lobby: and if its power and vindictiveness were ever in danger of being forgotten, then surely the battle over Hagel’s confirmation has reminded us...
"This entire process has been enormously helpful to those of us who have been trying to open the eyes of the public to the inordinate influence the Israel lobby exerts on Congress and on US foreign policy. A visitor from Mars might imagine he’d landed in the midst of a show trial conducted by some totalitarian regime, with the prisoner in the dock forced to confess and engage in "self-criticism," as the inquisitors looked sternly askance at his recantation. The Israel Firsters really went out on a limb, this time, and in the end they’ll wind up having sawed it off. Because Hagel is going to be confirmed in spite of their hysterical hate campaign, and what that means is that their power is broken.
:No, the Israel lobby isn’t going away: what’s ended, however, is the myth of their invincibility – not to mention the myth of their nonexistence. Remember, it is supposed to be a hate crime of some kind to even mention the Israel lobby, and up until this point the lobbyists and their shills have stoutly maintained that it is a "conspiracy theory" to believe such a thing exists (and also "anti-Semitic")."
Hagel Hearing: The War Party
We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.
Benjamin Netanyahu, as quoted in Ma'ariv, 16 April, 2008