William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW – AT 10:46 A.M. ET:  Joe Biden is in Europe.  He found his way there.  And he has an important, and original message.  From Reuters:

(Reuters) - The United States is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts that many see as crucial to easing an international dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

I love the way the reporter announces that many see these contacts as "crucial."  Really?  What have they ever produced?  We hold meetings to plan other meetings.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Biden said Iran - which says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy only - now faced "the most robust sanctions in history" meant to ensure it does not use its program to develop nuclear weapons.

We see how effective they've been. 

"But we have also made clear that Iran's leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation," Biden said. "There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran's court."

To date, fitful talks on Iran's nuclear program have been between Tehran and the EU's top diplomat representing six world powers including Washington. But analysts have suggested that with his re-election behind him, President Barack Obama might have more leeway to take on direct negotiations with Iran.

Translated into English:  More flexibility to cave in.

That makes the year ahead critical for chances of overcoming a stand-off which, if left to fester further, could see Iran approach a nuclear weapons capability and possibly provoking military action by Israel that could inflame the Middle East.

Hilarious.  Note that it would be Israeli action that would "inflame" the Middle East, not Iran's building a nuclear bomb.  No, there's no bias in journalism, no left-wing bias at all.  The reporters who wrote this story, Adrian Croft and Myra MacDonald, are classic.

Actually, in fairness, Biden did articulate a reasonable position, when asked:

Asked whether Washington might consider direct talks with Iran to smooth the process, Biden said, "When the Iranian leadership, Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), is serious.

"We have made it clear at the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership, we would not make it a secret that we were doing that, we would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself.

"That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they are prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise."

COMMENT:  Can't dispute that.  However, my fear is that we may get into a Neville Chamberlain situation, where we sign an empty agreement without ironclad safeguards, and wake up one morning to a catastrophe.  There is nothing that Barack Obama would like more than to bring us "peace in our time."

February 2,  2013