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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘chuck hagel’

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Calls It ‘Quits’

Monday, November 24th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation to President Barack Obama on Monday, and the two then announced it officially to the media.

The announcement followed pressure from the top and an extended, failed attempt to break through a presidential team of national security advisers.

In a formal ceremony at the White House, Obama said the decision had been a mutual one with both deciding this was an “appropriate time for him to complete his service.”

Obama noted that Hagel was the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense. “He stood where his soldiers stood,” Obama pointed out. “He sees himself in them. They see themselves in him.”

Hagel’s departure leaves the Obama administration “defenseless” as his national security team faces the continued rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its march towards a caliphate in the Middle East. Also ongoing is Russia’s escalating encroachment into Ukraine, and an incremental movement backwards towards another Cold War with the U.S.

Hagel, 68, is also a Republican leaving a lonely Democratic Obama administration as it faces a newly powerful Republican House of Representatives and Senate.

The two men grew close when they both served across the aisle from each other in the Senate, prior to Obama’s election as president. Hagel served as a senator from Nebraska after earning two Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War.

“Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women in uniform across six decades,” Obama said. But the president’s advisers were not nearly as happy with the defense secretary, whose loyalty they doubted and whose actions they questioned throughout his tenure.

Short-listed to replace Hagel are former deputy defense secretary Ash Carter and the current deputy, Robert Work.

Hagel has agreed to remain at his post until a successor is confirmed by the Senate. But the process may take some time, given the difficulties of finding a candidate the White House and its Republican adversaries can all agree on.

Ya’alon Scraps Purchase of US Aircraft

Friday, October 31st, 2014

In the wake of the many-months long rising tide of hostility between U.S. and Israeli senior leadership reaching those at the highest levels, a decision which at other times might be understood as a simple budgetary decision is likely now to be seen as anything but.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has reportedly canceled an agreement for Israel to purchase from the United States six advanced V-22 aircraft, which is made by Bell Boeing.

In January it was announced by the U.S. that the Israel Defense Force wanted to buy six Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for special operations and search-and-rescue missions, in addition to various other, smaller items. The V-22 flies like an airplane but tilts its rotors to take off and land like a helicopter.

The deal in which the six V-22 aircraft was a part was anticipated to be a roughly $1.13 billion Foreign Military Sale to Israel.

But Israel Hayom reported that the Ministry of Finance wants the deal to be suspended until there is a full review of Israel’s security needs post-Operation Protective Edge.

For his part, Ya’alon decided that instead of purchasing the six aircraft, Israel should increase the procurement of heavy Armored Personnel Carriers and precision munitions.

The poor condition of Israel’s APCs was a serious danger to its troops during this summer’s conflict. That fact was made clear by the highly publicized and tragic loss of life on July 20, when an APC carrying Golani brigade fighters in Gaza stalled and was then pierced on July 20 by Hamas terrorists. That attack led to the loss of seven soldiers. St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, amongst others, died in that tragedy; Shaul’s body has still not been recovered.

Last week when Ya’alon was in Washington, D.C. he and one of the few administration officials who did meet with him, the American Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, agreed that Israel would buy a second squadron of advanced F-35 fighter jets.

Canada and the United Arab Emirates were the other two potential purchasers of the V-22s, when Israel was considering the purchase.

Despite Israel’s severe budgetary constraints and the serious deficit of adequate APCs which was made only too clear during the summer conflict, Israel HaYom suggested that there are those within the IDF who fear the announced withdrawal of Israel’s intent to purchase the six Ospreys from the U.S. at this very delicate moment in U.S.-Israel relations will not be well received.

State Department Continues Grudge Match Against Ya’alon

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

The U.S. State Department spokesperson tried her darnedest to downplay U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s refusal to meet with Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon when the latter was in Washington, D.C. last week.

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, Ya’alon arrived in Washington where he met with his American counterpart, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and American intelligence officials.

However, according to YNet, the Obama administration refused Ya’alon’s request to meet with other top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

The snub was chalked up to lingering enmity resulting from private remarks made by Ya’alon – but which were publicly reported - in which Ya’alon allegedly spoke derisively about Kerry’s efforts to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Ya’alon allegedly said Kerry came to Israel “determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor,” and described the American security plan for Israel as “not worth the paper it is written on. It contains no peace and no security.”

The Americans went ballistic, saying that if the comments attributed to Ya’alon are accurate, they are “offensive and inappropriate” and described them as “shocking.”

Ya’alon later issued an apology in a written statement: “The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”

American officials apparently are not used to being insulted publicly, and when it happens, not having a groveling response. And so, apparently, the fallout continues.

In the State Department’s Daily Press Briefing on Friday, Oct. 24, the spokesperson was asked about reports that Ya’alon’s request to meet with Kerry had been denied.

The senior reporter in the briefing, Matt Lee, of the Associated Press, asked the spokesperson about the alleged rebuff. Lee asked whether the denial of Ya’alon’s request was due to Kerry still being “peeved” by Ya’alon’s alleged remarks. Psaki sure seemed to be.

QUESTION: Okay. And then there are reports in Israel and elsewhere that Israeli Defense Minister Ya’alon was denied meetings or the Administration rejected requests from the Israelis for him to meet with, among other people, Secretary Kerry but also Susan Rice at the White House and Vice President Biden. And I’m just wondering, realizing you don’t speak for the White House, can you say if a meeting was sought with Secretary Kerry, who I believe was out of the country until – I know was out of the country until Wednesday night. Was there a meeting sought and denied?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything in terms of internal discussions about meetings to parlay to you, but he did meet with Defense Secretary Hagel, which – who is his counterpart, which is a natural standard procedure.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say that the Administration and particularly this building and then particularly Secretary Kerry are still a bit peeved with Defense Minister Ya’alon’s criticisms?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Matt, as you know, Secretary Kerry has spoken to this himself shortly after the comments made by Defense Minister Ya’alon and made clear that he’d been the target of much worse than words. And I think obviously, he works closely with a range of Israeli officials and he didn’t meet with him this time. He’s met with him in the past and he met with Secretary Hagel, who is his counterpart.

However, Israel’s defense minister did meet with the influential Washington Post journalist Lally Weymouth, who began the wide-ranging interview asking about Ya’alon’s comments about Kerry, to which the minister of defense responded laconically, “We overcame that.”

Weymouth then asked about Kerry’s recent statement that the failure to resolve the “Israeli-Palestinian issue” is leading to street anger and recruitment for ISIS. Ya’alon did not mention Kerry by name, but said that the conflict “is dominated by too many misconceptions.” He pointed instead to the Sunni-Shia conflict as being the far more accurate linkage. In discussing the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict, Ya’alon made clear that territorial concessions are exactly the wrong tack for Israel to take, suggesting that another Hamastan would rise in Judea and Samaria.

Ds Reject Voting to Strip Citizenship From US Jihadi ISIS Volunteers

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Legislation recently introduced into the U.S. congress which would strip U.S. citizenship from Americans who went abroad and joined ISIS in order to engage in jihad came before the full senate for a vote on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the sponsor of the bipartisan bill, reminded members of the senate that estimates of the numbers of Americans currently in Syria or Iraq fighting for ISIS “range from ‘about a dozen’ according to one Pentagon spokesman, to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s reassertion of about a hundred Americans fights with ISIS in this week’s Armed Services Committee hearing.”

Cruz asked the full senate for unanimous consent to pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act or ETA of 2014.

But Democrat Mazie Hirono, senator from Hawaii, rose to vote against passing the ETA. The reason Hirono gave is that the bill had not been vetted by the Judiciary Committee, and given that ETA deals with the important issue of stripping U.S. citizenship from Americans, it was premature to approve the proposed Act.

Cruz made two points in response, one temporal and one substantive. First, the senate was about to go into recess so that members could go back to their states for the campaign season. This means that the legislation will not be approved, if at all, for many months.

The second point Cruz made is that while the idea of stripping U.S. citizenship is a serious constitutional matter, it is one which has long been deemed constitutional and applied against American citizens who choose to fight for an enemy country against the United States. What the ETA does is simply extend what has long been a weapon in the arsenal for protecting American citizens from violent traitors. It extends the mechanism to also apply to those who are fighting with non-state enemies, such as ISIS.

Hagel: US Staying in Gulf to Deter Iran

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The United States will maintain a robust military presence in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, although military action would be a last resort to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.

Hagel in a speech Tuesday to the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank described renewed efforts to get Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program through diplomacy.

“The United States is clear-eyed about the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead on this path, and the need for Iran to demonstrate its seriousness through actions,” Hagel said. “We will maintain a strong and ready military presence in the Persian Gulf, and the broader Middle East, to deter Iran’s destabilizing activities, and to work with and protect our allies and our interests.”

Israel, lawmakers in Congress, and pro-Israel groups have urged the United States not to relieve any pressure on Iran during negotiations as long as Iran does not take concrete steps to reduce its nuclear capability.

Hagel also said, describing U.S. policies toward Iran and Syria, where a civil war continues to rage, that a U.S. military option would be a “last resort.”

“Military force must always remain an option – but it should be an option of last resort,” he said. “The military should always play a supporting role, not the leading role, in America’s foreign policy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was reassuring U.S. allies in the region, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, that the United States would only settle for concrete steps by Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

“It is only specific actions on which countries will be able to measure an outcome,” Kerry said in Riyadh Monday, where he met with his Saudi counterpart, Saud al Faisal, “and the outcome must be one that allows all of us to know that every day that we wake up we know that what is happening in Iran is a peaceful program and not one where they can be secretly moving towards a weapon that could threaten the stability of this region.”

Kerry headed from Riyadh to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said negotiations with Iran, renewed last month after Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, expressed interest in such talks, could take months.

Israeli and Saudi Arabian leaders have expressed wariness of extended talks, saying that Iran must not be given time to advance its nuclear program under the pretext of negotiations.

Yaalon, Hagel to Meet in Washington

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet in Washington to discuss “regional security challenges.”

The defense chiefs are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the Pentagon, according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Carlin Woog to JTA.

Israel has welcomed the results of a threat by the Obama administration to strike Syria’s chemical weapons capability, spurring a decision by Syria to allow outside inspectors to destroy its chemical weapons.

Israel has made clear it wants President Obama to apply the same tactics — a credible military threat coupled with diplomacy — in negotiating an end to Iran’s suspected nuclear program.

U.S. Sen Foreign Relations Comm Queued Up to Vote for Strike on Syria

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

On Tuesday afternoon, September 3, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asking for its approval to launch a limited strike against Syria.

Kerry couched his request very clearly in terms of what it was not: it was not a request for approval to go to war. Kerry stated once again that “there will be no boots on the ground.”  What he was asking for was “the power to make clear, to make certain that the United States means what we say, that the world, when we join together in a multilateral statement, mean what we say.  He’s asking for authorization to degrade and deter Bashar al-Assad’s capacity to use chemical weapons.

The secretary of state made the argument in the plainest terms.  He compared what Assad has done – gassing hundreds of his own people, including hundreds of children – to the greatest evil most people recognize.  This administration is adamant that Assad be held accountable for committing a heinous act whose victims, Kerry and his boss insist, cry out for retribution.

So this is a vote for accountability. Norms and laws that keep the civilized world civil mean nothing if they’re not enforced. As Justice Jackson said in his opening argument at the Nuremberg trials, ‘The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to the law.’ If the world’s worst despots see that they can flout with impunity prohibitions against the world’s worst weapons, then those prohibitions are just pieces of paper. That is what we mean by accountability, and that is what we mean by we cannot be silent.

After four hours of debate in the Hart Senate Office Building, the committee will go into a closed session tomorrow and then, as early as tomorrow afternoon, may gave this administration what it is seeking: congressional approval to take limited action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The initial text of the resolution authorizing “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria” was made available late Tuesday evening, Eastern Time.  The committee will vote on some version of the draft tomorrow.

The secretary of state was asked what the administration will do if congress refuses to approve the use of force against Syria. Kerry said, “We’re not contemplating that, because it’s too dire.”

The draft resolution provides that the resolution upon which the committee members will vote shall be called ” Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the “Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.” It will

authorize the president to use the U.S. Armed Forces as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government in the conflict in Syria, and (2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect our allies and partners against the use of such weapons; and (3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.”

In addition to Kerry, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jack Dempsey also testified in support of the administration’s position.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.  Boehner said that “All votes authorizing the use of military force are conscience votes for members, and passage will require direct, continuous engagement from the White House.”

The draft resolution provides for a 60 day period during which the powers granted may be used, with a single additional 30 day extension.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/u-s-sen-foreign-relations-comm-queued-up-to-vote-for-strike-on-syria/2013/09/04/

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