Photo Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defence/FLASH90
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon on helicopter tour of the Golan Heights last April. The Secretary has invested in gaining Israel's trust.

In an interview with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Bllomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg put to him the question every liberal Jew thinks he knows the answer to: “Is Netanyahu, in fact, using scare tactics in order to torpedo Iran negotiations?”

I so would have liked to be there in the room when Hagel, still not my most favorite Republican, but who is, responded: “I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is legitimately concerned, as any prime minister of Israel has been, about the future security needs of their country,” and “has got a history of being very clear on where he is on this.”

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But that’s nothing, that’s just empty compliments compared to the next bit: “Hagel … argued that Netanyahu’s threats of military action against Iranian nuclear sites, combined with the pressure of sanctions, may have actually encouraged Iran to take negotiations seriously.”

That’s not Ann Coulter, it’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Remember the amount of ridicule Bibi sustained in response to his Wile E. Coyote cartoon bomb at the UN a year ago? Remember the insults—coming from a variety of former Israeli Intelligence officials—about his war mongering? Turns out Bibi was right, at least according to Obama’s man at the Pentagon.

Following the very chilly reception Hagel received from Israel’s friends at his confirmation time, Goldberg describes the Secretary of Defense almost single minded effort to gain Israel’s security establishment’s trust:

“Hagel has worked assiduously to ensure that Israel maintains its so-called qualitative military edge over its foes; he has developed close working ties with Israel’s defense minister and its top generals; and Jewish groups, once wary, have embraced him.”

Nevertheless, Israel isn’t getting from the U.S. the munitions that could blast through the reinforced roofs of Iranian nuclear facilities, Goldberg asserts.

Hagel admits he’s not giving them that one. “I suspect the Israelis would like an inventory of everything, but certain things we do keep as proprietary, and they know that,” he told Goldberg.

As with the Secretary of State John Kerry, who is once again in the Middle East, attempting to hook up the peace process to some oxygen, it is difficult to tell where the individual secretary’s will and ambition end and the Obama Administration’s core policy begins. Would another Defense Secretary have made such an effort to keep Israel in the loop, hold its hand and make sure it’s feeling secure? It’s possible that bridging the gap between himself and Netanyahu is precisely the challenge that motivates Hagel. Because, let’s face it, Wile E. Coyote may look silly, but he’s packing a dangerous air force.

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