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Biden at AIPAC

Vice President Biden gave a long speech at the annual AIPAC Policy conference yesterday (complete text here). The speech is worth reading in its entirety.

Drawing on his long public career, Biden shows a natural ability to connect with his audience despite the complications of the past four years. Much of the speech is difficult to square with the tenor of the Obama administration’s approach to Israel and the Middle East. Here, in any event, is a key point in Biden’s remarks:

[The United States and Israel] have a shared strategic commitment. Let me make clear what that commitment is: It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period. (Applause.) End of discussion. Prevent — not contain — prevent. (Applause.)

The President has flatly stated that. And as many of you in this room have heard me say — and he always kids me about this; we’ll be in the security room — and I know that Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows this because she hears it — he always says, you know — he’ll turn to other people and say, as Joe would say, he’s — as Joe would say, big nations can’t bluff. Well, big nations can’t bluff. And Presidents of the United States cannot and do not bluff. And President Barack Obama is not bluffing. He is not bluffing. (Applause.)

We can agree on this: Obama has indeed flatly stated that, but he is bluffing, and this is blarney of a piece with much of the rest of the speech. At least that is my take.

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