The Senator once again prepares to use the only tool in his box. Bob Schieffer is pretending to be surprised and/or interested.
When he's not fantasizing about being the Miracle Whip in a Coco Crisp-Yorvit Torrealba manwich, or trying to out-butch Larry Craig and Mitch McConnell, confirmed bachelor Huckleberry Graham can be found shamelessly burnishing his foreign policy credentials at the end of the administration's knob.
Yeah. Gee, if you didn't know better you might start to think that Russia and China have actively cultivated a geopolitical stance that conforms more to their interests than to ours. Indeed, you might even say that these interests are at cross purposes to ours.
So Graham is either woefully unaware, willfully obtuse, or just being a cynical jerkoff here. Putin is sending the exact signals he means to send; whatever dispute there may as to the goodness of his soul, the man is reputed to be a master chess player, and seems temperamentally disinclined to leave much of anything to chance. He is sending us signals, and only a complete donut-head would fail to notice that. He did not go to Tehran to shake down the Iranians by embarrassing them with the threat of sanctions; he went to let them know that he can do bidness with them, and deal with us on his own terms.
Now, we are all in agreement that mullahs with nukes is an immensely undesirable situation. But setting aside Ahmadinejad's cartoonish anti-Zionist rhetoric, the fact is that Iran is surrounded by unstable and/or hostile neighbors, several of which (Pakistan, India, Russia, and of course Israel) have nuclear arsenals. So of course they're going to want the capability, partly for the symbolic effect of deterrence, but also as a symbol of national achievement, and again keeping pace with unreliable neighbors.
And we wring our hands with lurid tales of crazed mullahs lobbing their new toy at Tel Aviv or the Eiffel Tower, but maybe Vladimir Putin knows something that Huckleberry Graham (he of the "five rugs for five bucks" Iraqi marketplace shopping spree) doesn't. After all, as much of a nuisance as we regard these guys, they're in Pooty-Poot's backyard. And with a weakening dollar and oil pushing past $90/bbl, unilateral sanctions have very little real leverage.
What's the answer? I don't know, and neither does Graham. I do know that, even if air strikes were somehow insanely decided to be the best course of action, I'd rather have Keifer Sutherland drive back from a bender at Scores than give the Cheneyites any more tasks involving people's lives.