The Obama administration, it seems, is not pleased with former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel’s performance during yesterday’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The New York Times quotes an underwhelmed member of the president’s foreign-policy team:
“It’s somewhere between baffling and incomprehensible,” a member of Mr. Obama’s own team of advisers on Iran said on Thursday night when asked about Mr. Hagel’s stumbling performance on the question during the all-day hearing. The worry was evident in the voice of the official, who would not speak on the record while criticizing the performance of the president’s nominee. For those who question whether the no-containment cornerstone of the Obama approach to Tehran is for real, or just diplomatic rhetoric, Mr. Hagel clearly muddled the message, he said.
The account refers to Hagel’s response to a question posed by New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte, who asked Hagel whether he stood by remarks he delivered to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2007, in which he said that, with regard to American policy toward Iran, “The strategy of containment remain[s] relevant today” and that “this is how we should have handled Saddam Hussein.”
Asked if he still believes containment is an option for dealing with Iran, Hagel said, “No, I don’t now.” The administration’s answer to that question has been “no.” According to the Times, ”either no one explained that to Chuck Hagel . . . or he forgot it.”