From today’s NYT:
“The United States should open a new strategic direction in U.S.-Iran relations by seeking direct, comprehensive and unconditional talks with the government of Iran, including opening a U.S. Interest Section in Tehran,” he said at the Brookings Institution in 2008, in a speech that gave Mr. Obama’s own statements some Republican cover. “We must avoid backing ourselves into a military conflict with Iran. That need not happen, but it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
That approach might have been possible if Obama had nominated Hagel in 2009, when his election victory provided a real opportunity for making the “change you can believe in” slogan more than just campaign-year rhetoric. Now, after several years of increasingly punishing sanctions that have done nothing to change the Iranian government’s behavior but that are increasingly hurting the average Iranian family, Hagel’s views will be framed as Pollyanish, disconnected from our current alleged “political realities” vis a vis Iran. It’s a shame, because I think Hagel would actually be a great SECDEF…one far more skeptical about the utility of using force to solve our most difficult foreign policy problems.