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I was somewhat surprised by how little attention was paid to Iran in the president's State of the Union Address. In a speech that was over 7,000 words along, the word "Iran" was only said, by my count, three times. This doesn't come as a total shock however, as every wonk and his mother predicted this speech would be heavy on domestic policy (Max Boot notes that foreign policy accounted for just 13% of policy items covered in the speech).

This doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot, because if the amount of time a topic received during the SOTU were in any way approximate to the amount of governing and legislation it earned, we'd all be powering our cars and homes on switchgrass by now. But what last night's cursory take on Iran does tell me is that the administration still hasn't found a way to reconcile its policy of engagement with the unrest in Iran. Supporting "the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran" is not only vague, but it may contradict the president's promise of "growing consequences" should the Iranian regime continue to snub the dictates of the international community in 2010. If those consequences are sanctions - be them "crippling" or targeted - they will very likely hurt poor and working-class Iranians - including those women marching in the streets.

And while I appreciate the president's effort to wed his Iran policy to nonproliferation - an argument I've in fact made here in the past - you have to set and stick to deadlines in order for that to be a viable pairing, otherwise the message the international community sends to other would-be nuclear powers is one of disorganization and weakness.

(AP Photo)