Christopher Lee

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How Come Hagel Goofed On The Simplest Question: Can the US Do Anything About a Nuclear Armed Iran?

2nd February 2013
Sometimes you could think Donald Duck or maybe just Goofy by himself is running the White House. Must be the dog, the duck would be smarter because take Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing: what’s the biggest and scariest question in foreign policy-defense?  Iran!!!!   The duck knows that.  Goofy? Maybe not Goofy.  Maybe that’s why no one briefed and rehearsed Chuck Hagel on Iran?

Chuck Hagel has just gone through the Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense.

On Iran, the recognized big one in What Does America Do If questions, Hagel goofed.  He stumbled around for answer to the apparently simple question: supposing Iran ignores every threat and builds a nuclear weapon, could a nuclear-warhead Iran be contained just as America apparently was able to contain the USSR during nearly half a century of Cold War?

The answer is very simple. The doctrine of containment was developed in 1946 and was the only way to deal with post World War II Soviet Communism and what followed – a Soviet controlled Eastern Europe and from 1957 a superpower building a capability for intercontinental ballistic and nuclear warfare. From this simplification, containment was Plan A and, as truth came to tell it, Plan 2-100 as well. In other words there was nothing else for it.

But Iran isn’t a superpower capable of magic mushrooming for real 100 American cities in one sunny afternoon.

So, when this notion is understood in the Senate (and as Hagel’s predecessor would know, the Senate grasped this four years ago) the question gets simpler: would the US attack Iran or help Israel attack Iran, if all else failed?  Sounds an easy one to ask.  As Goofy would know, you can scratch hard and never come with an answer that you would want to put on the Senate record and more importantly, on the front page of the Washington Post where they understand the significance of these affairs.

And what did Super Chuck say? Well, here comes the troublesome day’s work.  Knowing there would be such a curve ball in the day long hearing, the White House and he prepared an answer that was sent out in advance of the question.  Good news management. It read:

“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.’’

That would have been good if Mr Hagel in the hearing hadn’t have added:  “I support the president’s strong position on containment.”  Wow Goofy!  That suggests Obama and Hagel believe it’s possible to contain a nuclear weapon armed Iran. This is, as the duck would have said, quackery.  Why? Because Obama knows that if Iran is allowed to get the bomb, then everyone else in the region, including the Saudis will be ordering one for themselves.

There was a silence in the Senate.  Then an aide slipped a piece of paper to Hagel’s elbow. He looked.  Looked again. Then he 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.”

The Armed Services Committee, chairman, Senator Carl Levin was in a good and helpful mood. He said, gravely, to Hagel “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment: which is we do not favor containment.’’

This Hagel is the man to succeed Leon E Panetta.  What a crazy idea Goofy. How could this man be let out on his own?  He has just told Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to go ahead with the nuclear weapons program because there’s about nothing that America will do about it.  He has just told the North Korean Official Basket Case, Kim Jong Un he can do the same and for the same reasons.

Could it be that someone in the White House, in the Defense Department and maybe even, someone at Disney should get a grip of this man and tell him that laying the foundation of a nuclear war was not in the script. Maybe they should give the duck the job.

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