Frustration on the Administration’s “Third Option” Team


Hagel Steve Clemons Hauser.JPG
(Senator Chuck Hagel, Steve Clemons, and International Peace Academy Chair Rita Hauser)
Yesterday evening, I helped organize a private salon dinner with Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE). I’ll be posting more on the event later today — along with some other interesting news.
But I spoke during the day with someone else deeply involved with trying to carve out a course with Iran that is neither “appeasement” or “war.”
This person believes that Senator Hagel’s criticism of the administration’s current course on Iran does not encompass the reality (in this person’s view) that everything the Bush team is doing on Iran from tightened sanctions to the increasingly bellicose rhetoric are part of a “diplomatic strategy.”
I think that the “third option” team in the administration has a tough job — not only because any reasonable benchmarks of their work do not seem to be producing the kind of tangible results needed to keep the “nuke ’em now and get it over with crowd” around Vice President Cheney at bay but because there are Iranian government interests as well as White House colleagues trying to undermine their work.
Hagel’s frustration with the White House is an important measure of how a sensible, grounded, informed American sees the potentially catastrophic results of the administration’s current course.
More later.

— Steve Clemons


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