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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘chuck hagel’

Hagel Coming to Israel Bearing Lots of (Sort of) Gifts

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is starting a weeklong visit to the Middle East, concluding a year of secret negotiations over a $10 billion arms deal involving Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The deal includes American made missiles, warplanes and troop transports, to help each country in facing threats from Iran.

The NY Times quoted a senior administration official who said the goal of the new deal is “not just to boost Israel’s capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat — and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”

When Chuck Hagel leaves the region, he will also, supposedly, answer the puzzling riddle of how can Israel afford to spend even more billions of dollars, when her entire $3 billion in U.S. military aid is already spoken for. In everybody’s mind, there can be only one answer: Israel will ask the U.S. to pay the U.S. whatever it takes, so Israel can get the new, really shiny stuff.

Highest on Israel’s shopping list for things it couldn’t possibly pay for out of its own shrinking budget: new missiles designed to take out the enemy’s air-defense radar, and then, also, advanced radar for Israeli warplanes, and don’t forget new refueling tanker planes. In short, it’s all the stuff you need if you’re going out to bomb the nuclear facilities of an unnamed country a thousand miles away.

In addition Israel will also buy the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft, which combines the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

If you ask me, Israel needs these units like it needs a hole in the head. Besides the fact that they’ve had a terrible reputation, rife with corruption (a Marine Lieutenant Colonel was kicked off the service after it was discovered he fixed reports to favor the new aircraft), Israel is not facing the troop transport issues the U.S. military does around the globe. It’s a whole lot cheaper to fly the troops across the border in any direction on good, old fashioned choppers, than to utilize and maintain these unwieldy behemoths. But since the entire U.S. military aid to Israel program is, essentially, intended to support jobs creation on Long Island and in Washington State, what do I care.

They accused former President GW Bush of being an irresponsible spendthrift when he invested trillions of dollars of money we didn’t have in invading and destroying the only enemy of Iranian expansionism in the region – Saddam Hussein. But, as it turns out, the president was smarter than we thought. By making Iran the undeniable bully of the Middle east, utilizing Shiite power in Iraq to bolster its own, now U.S. military industrial companies are able to cash in on the new market and sell everybody in the region those state-of-the-art American mega weapons. USA! USA!

“This year the United States provided $3.1 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, the highest the United States has ever provided,” a Pentagon official said. In addition, the United States provides about $300 million in missile defense to Israel, he noted.

Elsewhere in the region, in 2010 Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase 84 F-15 tactical fighters in a deal worth $29.4 billion, the official said, and the first F-15s have rolled off the line in St. Louis and are undergoing flight testing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

During Hagel’s trip, the UAE is expected to move forward with the purchase of 25 F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The expected value of the sale is $425 billion, the official said.

The United Arab Emirates wants to buy 26 F-16 warplanes, at $5 billion, and they also need those precision missiles that can be launched from those same jets at distant ground targets. Saudi Arabia is also in for them advanced missile.

The deal with Israel was in discussion over the past year between former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta and former defense minister Ehud Barak. The Times reports the two had 18 additional telephone discussions on the arms deal. After being sworn in as the new defense secretary, Hagel’s first face-to-face discussion with any foreign counterpart was with Barak, to get the deal done. When Hagel starts will move to finalize the arms deal with Barak’s successor, Moshe Yaalon.

Hagel to Visit Israel This Month

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Chuck Hagel will visit Israel for the first time as Secretary of Defense for three days, April 21-23, according to Reuters, which was informed of the schedule by an Israeli official.

Officially billed as trip to tighten cooperation with allies in the Middle East, Iran will be at the top of the agenda in his discussions with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

JStreet’s Hagel ‘Victory’ is on American Jewry

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

The Jerusalem Post reports today that JStreet, the only lobby dedicated to opposing and putting pressure on Israel, is claiming Hagel’s confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Defense a “victory.”

That’s funny, because JStreet is probably one of the Jewish organizations whose stance mattered least of all, and Hagel is a Secretary of Defense who’s approval was filibustered and who received the most nay votes in all of American history. If this is a show of JStreet power, then those of us who are actually pro-Israel have something to be thankful for.

And what was the battle that was won? JStreet lobbied for the President’s policy. Opposing the president in foreign policy is always an uphill battle. It doesn’t take an Israel lobby to get the president’s nomination through, especially when his party controls the Senate. (Though I admit, it’s useful to have Jews telling Americans to override their natural moral perspective on Israel-related issues).

But there is a victory in there somewhere – perhaps for clarity.

JStreet supported the president in his Israel policy, just as most of American Jewry has done since the days of FDR, when the American government did nothing to save millions of Jews, took part in an informal global conspiracy not to grant fleeing Jews refuge, and by acquiescing in British requests not to do anything which would force the British to let Jews into Palestine.

Jews like then ZOA president Stephen Wise did their best to defend Roosevelt against the “extremists.” Today those extremists include, ironically, the Zionist Organization of America, as well as the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel. Even more ironically, those whom the respectable Jews tried to silence were the Jabotinskyite Hillel Kook & Co., a group which included Irgun commander Yitzchak Ben Ami, the father of JStreet head Jeremy Ben Ami.

Take U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s support for Hagel. A word from Schumer, a senior Democratic senator, could have forced Obama to withdraw Hagel’s nomination. A word from AIPAC, which remained silent, could have forced Schumer to oppose the nomination or at least not publicly announce that all of his fears had been calmed in a short meeting with Hagel. AIPAC was silent because they need to work with the government – the classic Diaspora Jewish explanation for going along with anti-Zionist policies. Schumer put up no opposition – who knows why? Because he too wanted the President’s support for something? Because of party loyalty? Because he was duped with assurances that from now on Obama would leave Israel alone.

What should be clear now is that while JStreet may be a minor group, it is only doing what most American Jewish leaders already agree to, putting the president’s policy ahead of what common sense and Israel’s obvious interests dictate. American Jews support Democratic presidents. American Jews support Palestinian statehood. American Jews support all other sorts of Israeli concessions because they would rather have the moral high ground than the actual high ground. American Jews criticize Israel to show they are fair observers.

So congratulations, JStreet, you won before you even started! Perhaps you can save your breath, energy and George Soros’ and God knows who else’s money and go home.

Ehud Barak First Defense Minister to Meet with Secretary Hagel

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to be the first foreign defense minister to meet with newly confirmed U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The Tuesday meeting will take place following Barak’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference, which begins Sunday and ends on Tuesday.

The two defense chiefs, who have known each other for more than a decade, will discuss the Iranian threat during their meeting, according to Reuters.

It is also expected that they will talk about cuts in U.S. assistance to Israel due to sequestration. It is not known yet exactly how much those cuts will amount to, but the figure could be as high as $300 million and affect the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Barak did not run for re-election in the recent Knesset elections following dismal ratings in pre-election polls.

Betrayal: Republicans Who Voted for Hagel

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

All of Israel’s enemies are doing the hora. As for all of those conservatives who are shocked, shocked I tell ya, over Rand Paul’s vote for Hagel, are you serious? You expected him to stand against Hagel? Rand and his father are notoriously anti-Israel (anti-Semitic).

GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, and Richard C. Shelby of Alabama voted for Hagel’s Jew-hatred. Shelby’s constituents are not happy with him.

(Recommended blog article: Chuck Hagel — a litmus test for Republican weakness and stupidity).

The Right Scoop had the roll call vote:

FOX NEWS – The Senate approved Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Defense secretaryTuesday, ending a contentious battle that exposed deep divisions over the president’s Pentagon pick.

After Republicans blocked the nomination earlier this month, they ultimately allowed for an up-or-down vote on Tuesday. The margin was historically close, with 58 senators supporting him and 41 opposing in the end.

Though Hagel is himself a former Republican senator, the resistance to his nomination showed an unusual level of distrust among many senators toward the man chosen to lead the Defense Department — at a time when the country is trying to wind down the Afghanistan war, while assessing emerging threats from Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the turbulent Middle East and North Africa.

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Here’s the Roll Call Vote:

YEAs —
58
Baldwin (D-WI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coons (D-DE)
Cowan (D-MA)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Paul (R-KY)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —41
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kirk (R-IL)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

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Schumer Cites Hagel’s Tears, but Smears Jewish Conservatives

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

As evidence continues to mount about why former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is so high on the dance card of Iranian regime supporters and so low on the dance card of most pro-Israel supporters, the politicians supporting Hagel have begun to sound desperate.

New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, may have just relocated this debate from the staid halls of congress and plopped it directly onto the high school dramatics level of bathos.

Schumer, who initially attracted attention when he publicly stated he was not sure about the Hagel nomination, then had an intimate tête á tête (multiply the last digit by many orders of magnitude) with Hagel in the White House.

It was during that bull session that the former Nebraska senator – perhaps with some assistance from others present – apparently convinced Schumer that Hagel was the right man to head the department of defense.

In the weeks since Hagel received Schumer’s hecksher, instead of soaring, Hagel’s star faltered as it grew ever more tarnished, with multiple revelations of anti-Israel and anti-American slurs.

But Hagel’s poor performance at his confirmation hearing was sufficient to convince enough congressional members to block the nomination’s movement to the full senate for a vote there.

There was concern in particular about documents that had not been turned over addressing compensation from potential worrisome sources.  In addition, some were uncomfortable with Hagel’s inability to field questions put to him during the vetting process. And then there were the questions of where the former senator stood with respect to various players in the Middle East, based on earlier comments and votes.

Now, while the senate is on a brief hiatus, revelations continue.

And just to show how low Hagel’s star has fallen, we learned that Wednesday morning, while Schumer was giving a talk to some business groups in Manhattan, he shared with them some of the details about the famous conversation he had with Hagel, the one that moved him onto the pro-Hagel for secretary of defense team.  Those details were not discussed previously, as they had been described as confidential.

What did Schumer learn? He learned that deep down, Hagel is an uber sensitive guy.  All Schumer had to do was explain why it was so hateful to Jews for Hagel to refer to them as the “Jewish lobby,” to share the pain of the double standard Jews have had to endure, and Hagel was cured!

According to Schumer, the scales fell from Hagel’s eyes.  And Hagel repented.  He felt their pain.  How do we know that?

We know that because Schumer brought his Wednesday morning audience into that intimate space with him, and told those listening what he felt.  “And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”

Schumer provided inaccurate information about other matters Wednesday morning.  He said that “there is not a major Jewish organization against Hagel.”

That’s not true.

The Zionist Organization of America and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) have been on record opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel since President Obama first named him as his choice for secretary of Defense.

The centrist American Jewish Committee has been at least softly opposed to Hagel’s nomination even before the nod was officially given by the president.  Back in December, the AJC’s president, David Harris said, “what message would it send to have a Pentagon chief who has very different views on strategies for dealing with Iran, the central foreign policy challenge of our time, than the White House has had to date? Or questions the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group at the same time the Administration is urging the European Union to add the group to its terrorism list?”

And the politically centrist, Democratic Party-leaning Anti-Defamation League joined the AJC in strongly questioning the nomination after information about some of Hagel’s comments, in particular that he was recorded as saying that the “U.S. State Department is an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry,” at a speech at Rutgers University in 2007.

AIPAC NOT TAKE POSITIONS ON NOMINATIONS
Much has been made of the lack of opposition by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but AIPAC never takes a position on a political nomination.  The absence of one in this situation should give no comfort to Hagel supporters, or signal anything else to those who have questions and are looking to organizational leadership for direction.

Hagel Vote Postponed, Senators Say Financial Info Withheld

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

The vote to decide whether Former Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska will be the next Secretary of Defense was abruptly postponed late Wednesday, February 6.  That vote had been scheduled to take place on Thursday, during a different hearing concerning Libya.

The vote was put off, according to most sources, because Hagel has not provided adequate documentation concerning compensation for speeches and other activities over the past five years.

More than a dozen Republicans sent a letter to Hagel, a copy of which the Associated Press obtained, pressing him to provide the requested information.

“The committee, and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for secretary of defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly, from foreign sources,” Senate Republicans wrote. “Until the committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as secretary of defense.”

Hagel stated in a letter to Senate Republicans that he is not in possession of the information requested.

“My role with respect to the entities you identify is as a current and former board or advisory board member. I was not involved in the day-to-day management of any of these firms, and have not been involved with some for the firms for years now,” Hagel wrote. “Thus, as a matter of fact, I do not believe I have any of the information requested. More importantly, the information you seek is legally controlled by the individual entities and not mine to disclose.”

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,  is already on record as supporting Hagel and had hoped to have the vote take place as scheduled.  Instead, Levin’s office issued a terse statement late Wednesday that there would be no vote on Thursday.

“The committee’s review of the nomination is not yet complete. I intend to schedule a vote on the nomination as soon as possible,” Levin said.

The Free Beacon reported that sources close to SASC members believe that Hagel’s refusal to provide the requested information may encourage GOP lawmakers to hold up the nomination.

“Senators are really taken aback that Hagel would refuse to provide financial information about foreign governments and foreign agents that may have been indirectly paying his salary for the last few years,” said one Republican Senate aide who is close to the process. “We are talking about the most sensitive cabinet post—control over our nuclear secrets, our intelligence agencies, our covert activities—and we don’t have a right to know if he’s got IOUs for certain countries or groups?”

In a late-breaking story from Foreign Policy, another irregularity has arisen with the nomination, one about which some senators are requesting additional information.  This matter has to do with a claim of sexual harassment by one staff member about the actions of a more senior staffer.  There is no question of the senator’s own impropriety, rather it goes to staff management and behavior, according to the report.

More Dumb and Dumbest from Chuck Hagel (Video)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zxjnPouh-c]Today the Emergency Committee for Israel released “Confusion,” a web ad highlighting Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s confused response at last week’s hearing to questions about the Obama administration’s Iran policy.

During his confirmation hearing on Thursday, Hagel could not explain — despite repeated attempts — the administration’s policy of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Instead, Hagel first said he supported the president’s policy of “containment,” i.e. containing Iran after it acquires nuclear weapons. Then, attempting to correct himself, he said the administration “takes no position” on containment. Finally, Senator Levin was forced to explain to Hagel that “we do not favor containment.”

ECI’s executive director, Noah Pollak, said: “Is it too much to ask that the nominee for Secretary of Defense understands the policy of the Obama administration on the single most important national security challenge facing the United States?”

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