William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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FIRE BRIGADE – AT 11:20 A.M. ET:  Normally a political figure is in office before causing an international flap.  But some are eager.  Chuck Hagel couldn't wait, and it was none other than Joe ("I'm president of the United States") Biden who had to put out the fire.  Fortunately, Joe got his lines right.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden assured European leaders Saturday that the U.S. is not pursuing a policy of “containment” toward Iran, two days after U.S. Defense secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel mistakenly characterized the Obama administration’s policy.

“As President Obama has made clear to Iranian leaders, our policy is not containment — it is not containment,” Mr. Biden said at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. “It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

During his confirmation hearing Thursday, Mr. Hagel told the Senate Armed Services committee that the administration had a policy of “containment” toward the Iranian regime. After an aide slipped him a note minutes later, Mr. Hagel corrected himself and said, “We don’t have a position on containment.”
That comment prompted Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, to remind Mr. Hagel that the U.S. does indeed have a position on containment — “we do not favor containment.”

Mr. Biden didn’t mention Mr. Hagel’s stumble to the Europeans, but he did try to set the record straight. Addressing international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions, Mr. Biden said the Obama administration has “also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation.”

COMMENT:  It looks like Hagel will squeeze by and be confirmed.  Get your helmets.  Dig your shelters. 

February 3,  2013