At a moment when Israel’s most consequential challenge is to prevent a nuclear Iran– this in a context of Israel requiring American muscle power to do so– President Obama has appointed as his Defense Secretary a man who strongly argues for an Iran Containment Policy.
Chuck Hagel has been a forceful proponent of not preventing a nuclear Iran, but of living with it, of containing and constraining it through negotiations, political and diplomatic carrots and sticks. True, presidents will say these are their policies, and the cabinet secretaries are to carry them out. But just as often a president “leads from behind”, that is, he appoints someone whose evaluations and perspectives create a pathway for the president to then follow.
There’s a lot to suggest that Chuck Hagel will serve Barak Obama this way, as and when the president needs.
This kind of leadership can be necessary, even wise, at times. But in the case of Iran it will be a disastrous act of appeasement. I hope I’m wrong.
For further background: To read what Jonathan Tobin, an astute analyst, says about this, click here. And as a reminder of what President Obama has promised with regard to containment of Iran not being the way to go, watch this eight minute video from his March 4, 2012 speech at AIPAC (the promise comes at about the 6:00 minute mark.)