Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Posts’ blog Right Turn, bless her heart, has learned from her Senate sources that the “left-wing group J Street” was refusing to provide a video of Chuck Hagel speaking before the group’s first conference in 2009.
“Senators were tipped off that Hagel departed from his prepared remarks and made controversial comments to the J Street Conference. In exchanges with Senate Armed Services Committee staff, J Street volunteered the prepared remarks and said it decided not to provide the complete video for fear that Hagel’s remarks would be taken out of context,” Rubin wrote on Tuesday.
She commented that J Street would have to provide the tape, should the Armed Services Committee issues a subpoena for it. Finally, on Tuesday night, Rubin updated her story to report that J Street contacted the Senate Armed Services Committee to report that it was going to post the entire video of Hagel’s 2009 speech online.
I downloaded the video and sat and transcribed portions of the tape itself, to male sure they did not differ from the online text. In my opinion, the truly alarming text was delivered by Hagel in the official speech, which he read, word for word. I will get to it later, and share with you why I think Hagel may be the worst thing to hit the U.S.-Israel relationship since Casper Weinberger locked the IAF off the Iraqi ballistic missile launchers.
But, first, here’s the stuff that didn’t make it into the official speech, and came at the short Q&A portion at the end. Hagel was asked by the host what advise he would give newly elected Prseident Obama, who took him on as an advisor, regarding the Middle east.
Hagel responded: “Engagement. I’ve never understood a great nation like the United States who would be afraid to engage. Why are we afraid to talk with someone? If we believe that we have a pretty good system—and I don’t think we should go around the world imposing it on anyone—but if we have some sense of who we are, and believe in who we are, then why wouldn’t we engage? how in the world do we think we can make a better world? How in the world do we think isolating someone is going to somehow bring them around to your way of thinking? I think just the opposite. So, engagement.”
“2 – it seems to me a comprehensive framework of a foreign policy is essential. Because I have never believed you go to war in Iraq, you go to war in Afghanistan, and believe that you can deal with those battlefields, those countries, in microcosms, or narrow channels. These are regional issues. There will not be any peace in the Middle East or in Afghanistan, central Asia, without Iran somewhere…”
Host: “So Iran is connected to Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is connected to Israel and Palestine, and connected to Syria…”
Hagel: “It’s all connected.”
More dangerous words have not been uttered since Wayne Wheeler and Andrew J. Volstead from Minnesota invented the 18th Amendment (the one about not letting the boys coming back from war in Europe have a drink). The notion that the war-loving Afghani tribes are shooting and tooting on account of the Iranians not liking the delayed peace negotiations in Ramallah, which in turn drives the rebel army outside Damascus is the craziest pile of horse manure dumped on the American political scene since the Domino theory.
And it’s no wonder the J Street folks have kept those comments out. In light of the civil war in Syria and the emerging civil war in Egypt, they make the presumptive Secretary of defense sound like Jimmy Carter.
In that vein, just look at what the man said about Syria, back in 2009:
“I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies. For its own self interests… not because they want to do a favor for the U.S. or Israel. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S. Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table.”
My Lord – is there even one assumption in that pile of fragrant stuff that is still true today? Is this man capable of making even one observation that isn’t a trite cliché and hopelessly divorced from Middle east reality?