You don’t have to be that good to fend off a committee of showboating senatorial blowhards. Hillary Clinton demonstrated that a week or so back when she unleashed what’s apparently the last word in withering putdowns: What difference does it make?
Quite a bit of difference it seems. This week, an over-sedated Elmer Fudd showed up at the Senate claiming to be the president’s nominee for secretary of defense, and even the kindliest interrogators on the committee couldn’t prevent the poor chap shooting himself in the foot.
Twenty minutes in, Chuck Hagel was all out of appendages.
He warmed up with a little light “misspeaking” on Iran. “I support the president’s strong position on containment,” he declared. Breaking news!
Obama comes clean on Iran! According to Hagel, the administration favors “containment.” I could barely “contain” my excitement! Despite official denials, many of us had long suspected that, lacking any stomach for preventing a nuclear Tehran, Washington would settle for “containing” them. Hagel has been a containment man for years: It worked with the Soviets, so why not with apocalyptic ayatollahs? As he said in a 2007 speech, “The core tenets of George Kennan’s ‘The Long Telegram’ and the strategy of containment remain relevant today.” Recent history of pre-nuclear Iran — authorizing successful mob hits on Salman Rushdie’s publishers and translators, bombing Jewish community centers in Buenos Aires, seeding client regimes in Lebanon and Gaza — suggests that these are fellows disinclined to be “contained” even at the best of times. But, even if Iran can be “contained” from nuking Tel Aviv, how do you “contain” Iran’s exercise of its nuclear status to advance its interests more discreetly, or “contain” the mullahs’ generosity to states and non-state actors less squeamish about using the technology? How do you “contain” a nuclear Iran from de facto control of Gulf oil, including setting the price and determining the customers?
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