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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘chuck hagel’

J Street Speech Reveals Hagel Will Push Saudi Peace Initiative

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

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.”

Big applause.

“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?

Hagel’s “Global Zero” Plan

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Former Senator Chuck Hagel, nominated to be Secretary of Defense, is also a signatory of what is known as the “Global Zero” plan. It calls for the United States and Russia to begin comprehensive nuclear arms negotiations in early 2013 to achieve zero nuclear weapons worldwide by 2030 in four phases.

The first phase would be a reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal to 1,000 weapons from its current level — some number slightly less than 5,000 warheads. While the U.S. has now deployed 1,550 strategic nuclear weapons, the new total would include stored and reserve weapons, as well as warheads considered tactical and deployed in Europe, and therefore not regulated by current arms control agreements. By way of comparison, the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command laid out in a summer 2012 essay the comparable Russian arsenal, which he estimated was probably in excess of 10,000 nuclear warheads — a number considerably higher than many current and previous estimates of the Russian nuclear arsenal, and nearly twice that of the United States.

The Global Zero plan first would remove all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. combat bases in Europe to storage facilities in the United States. However, while these tactical U.S. weapons would no longer be able to defend Europe and NATO, Russians weapons would be able to attack all of Europe in a relatively short time — launching weapons from bases in Russia, where they would be stored, reconstituted and redeployed. Given the nature of such weapons systems, the verification of such efforts would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The real eye-opener is that the 1,000 ceiling for the U.S. would include our tactical nuclear weapons and stored weapons for reserve emergencies, and the currently deployed 1,550 weapons. The implication is that Hagel is pushing an 80% cut in overall U.S. deployed weapons. If done proportionately, that would involve a reduction to fewer than roughly 300 total deployed strategic nuclear warheads, a level less than China, and less than India and Pakistan combined.

This further signals the elimination of the U.S. strategic nuclear Triad (air, sea and land) — 300 accountable warheads would enable the deployment of a limited bomber or submarine or IBM leg of our nuclear deterrent, but certainly not all three legs. This would have the effect, by virtually eliminating all serious deterrent capability to our adversaries, of massively increasing the instability of the international security environment — a dramatic reversal of the promises made within the New START Treaty ratification process, in which enhancing and maintaining strategic stability was one of the cornerstones of the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review.

By quickly withdrawing our tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, we would be emasculating the extended deterrent umbrella which now covers Europe, and as a result seriously weaken the defense ties to our allies and friends across the Atlantic. There would also be a corresponding weakening of our deterrent umbrella over the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, just at a time when these three nations, and others, are threatened by an expanding North Korean missile and nuclear weapons capability and a major modernization program by China of its nuclear weapons. The result, based on reasonable mid-point estimates of the current PRC arsenal, would be a Chinese deployed nuclear arsenal in excess of that deployed by the United States, to say nothing of what Peking could deploy in the near and intermediate future.

The Global Zero plan also calls for “de-alerting” our nuclear weapons. That would mean any number of things, but generally it means even the severely reduced number of warheads in our deployed arsenal would not, in a crisis, be available for use if they were needed. The warheads might be removed from their missiles or bombers; they might be disabled and stored remotely — requiring many hours, days, or longer to be redeployed.

Previous administrations, as well as the current government, have in various ways discussed and considered such a move. In every instance, de-alerting has been firmly rejected. First, the proposal is totally unverifiable. Second, it is highly destabilizing: in a crisis, there would be a race to re-alert and rearm, making the first and sudden use of nuclear weapons a greater or more likely possibility. Third, de-alerting solves no “nuclear” problem, whether in concerns abut proliferation, threats of an electro-magnetic pulse [EMP] attack, or any other deterrent or arms control requirement.

‘J Street’ Loves Chuck Hagel and the Treif in his Bagel

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Often, when a group wants to hound someone with an opposing viewpoint, they will offer to donate one financial unit for every time the opponent does something the donor dislikes.  The kicker, though, is that the donation is made to a group or cause the opponent abhors, thereby creating a disincentive for the bad actor to continue his actions, which have become the source of support for the opposing viewpoint.

This is how it works: say a group of anti-Israel protesters show up regularly to protest the Israel Defense Force in front of an Israeli Consulate. The pro-Israel group then publicly announces it will donate $18 to the American Friends of the IDF for every anti-Israel nudnik who shows up at the Consulate to protest.

J Street, an American pro-’Palestinian’ group, has part of the concept, but has failed to understand the disincentive part.  J Street has come out as one of the strongest backers of President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel (R-NB), has now unveiled a clever new campaign. It’s mostly clever because it has a rhyme that invokes the aroma of “Jewishness.”

The campaign slogan is: “Smear a Bagel, Not Chuck Hagel.”

And J Street offers that “for every 18 actions in support of Chuck Hagel, we’ll send a bagel to the DC Area Food Bank — in Bill Kristol’s honor.” Bill Kristol is the founder and board member of the Emergency Committee for Israel, which purchased the domain name ChuckHagel.com, and filled the site with all the reasons why Sen. Hagel is unqualified to be the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

So the Smear Bagel, Not Hagel rhyme is good, evoking something Jewish — but not religious — which works well for J Street (how long did it take most people to find out that the “J” in J Street has nothing to do with Jewish, but instead is a play on the absence of a street that bears the letter “J” in Washington, D.C. grid system?).

But there are a few problems with this campaign.

First, as anyone who has grown up in a Jewish household surely knows, the authentic Yiddish word for applying butter, cream cheese or other spread on a bagel is “schmear,” not “smear.”  Second,  there is no food bank in Washington, D.C. with the name, “the DC Area Food Bank,” and given that J Street does not state what exactly the donation will be, and the language describing what triggers the donation to the mystery food bank is vague, some might begin to wonder about the motivation behind this campaign.

By clicking through on the links, you learn that the “action” which, when 18 are accumulated, triggers the donation, is a signature on J Street’s petition of support for Chuck Hagel.  The petition explains that the signer supports President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel, and urges the Senate to confirm the nomination.  It also acknowledges that “legitimate questions should be asked during the confirmation hearings about his policy positions and prior statements, but I object to the personal smears and attacks on the Senator, which should have no place in the process.”

Ah, now we know what the bagel schmear was about: J Street doesn’t like that some people (dare we say the “Jewish lobby”?) have criticized Hagel for being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. For J Street, any such claims are “smears” that have no business being part of the vetting process for Secretary of Defense. For most people, those are questions that should, and must, be addressed.  No baloney.

Finally, rather than trying to discourage the enemies of Hagel from raising questions about his suitability for the office to which he has been nominated, J Street’s goal seems to be the harvesting of new email addresses.  That’s a reasonable thing for an organization to do, but not nearly as generous as simply making donations to the needy.

 

Jewish Response to Hagel Nomination Tepid to Furious

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

As expected, yesterday, January 6, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB) for the position of Secretary of Defense.

The confirmation process ahead may be a bruising one, although many in the mainstream and “progressive” media are trying to paint the tepid announcements and refusals by centrist Jewish groups to officially oppose Hagel for the position as akin to a hecksher.  But not so fast.

In a Twitter world occupied by liberal media-types, the same people repeatedly retweeted each other’s statements with tepid comments about Hagel’s acceptability to Jewish Democrats, in an effort to create the appearance of a groundswell.

In what amounted to news for some,  Jewish organizations widely viewed as almost entirely peopled by Democrats issued statements harshly criticizing Hagel’s positions and statements on Israel and on Jews, but refraining from directly confronting their party leader by officially opposing the Hagel nomination.

For example, the press release issued by the Anti-Defamation League was a study in pretzel-twisting.  While recounting the many reasons why the ADL is unhappy about the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, the organization pulls back at the brink and does not  officially oppose the nomination.  Here’s part of their release:

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:

Senator Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect the President’s prerogative.

I trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for Senator Hagel to address concerns about his positions, which seem so out of sync with President Obama’s clear commitment on issues like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and Hezbollah and the president’s strong support for a deepening of U.S. Israel strategic cooperation.

I particularly hope Senator Hagel will clarify and explain his comments about the “Jewish Lobby” that were hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.

The League previously expressed concerns with the Senator’s record on Israel and Iran, and said of his record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship that it was “at best disturbing and at worst, very troubling,” citing his remarks about the Jewish lobby and his voting record on Israel and Iran.

It seems as though the best most pro-Israel leaders who are reluctant to cross President Obama on his “prerogative,” were willing to do was to downplay the policy-making role of secretary of defense.  The National Jewish Democratic Council, which had also publicly criticized Hagel’s positions on Israel in the past, was willing to rely on their great faith in President Obama’s support and concern for Israel to let the Hagel nomination pass without an objection.  The NJDC statement:

“President Barack Obama’s unprecedented pro-Israel credentials are unquestionable, and setting policy starts and stops with the president. While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, former Sen. Chuck Hagel will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel — on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”

Israeli media sang from the same hymnal as Israel Channel 2′s foreign news editor, Arad Nir, pointed out, “Obama is still the commander-in-chief.”  That was unlikely to be much comfort for those for whom President Obama’s policies are a source of concern.

On the other side of the journalistic political spectrum, the Emergency Committee for Israel pulled off a coup worthy of the Merry Pranksters of the 1960′s, but 21st Century style.  ECI had obtained the domain name ChuckHagel.Com.  If you click the link you are taken to a website which provides information about the former Senator on various issues of importance including Iran, Israel, Syria, public statements made by politicians, both Republican and Democratic.  As the headline of the website clearly shows, ECI believes the information on the site shows that  Hagel is “not a responsible option” for the position of Secretary of Defense.

When Obama, a Democrat, announced Hagel’s nomination this morning, he said that his selection of a Republican “represents the bipartisan tradition that we need more of in Washington.”

Republicans roared back.

“He has long severed his ties with the Republican Party,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday. Graham called the selection “an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel.”  Sen. John Conryn (R-TX) has already said he will vote against Hagel’s nomination, and predicted that many Republicans would join him in voting against Hagel.  “Some of Sen. Hagel’s positions would either render America weaker or create ambiguity in regard to our role in maintaining security and peace,” said Conryn.

Jewifying the Opposition

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The president is going to nominate Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

Over the last few weeks, just like when the plan was to appoint Arabist Chas Freeman to a sensitive intelligence post, the strategy for the appointment has been to leak the planned appointment, then respond to opposition by ‘Israelifying’ the objections, and ‘Jewifying’ the opponents.

In other words, administration surrogates are doing their best to make the public think that objections to Hagel are all related to his anti-Israel politics (don’t just ask me — ask Iranian Press TV), and that opponents to his nomination are doing the bidding of the ‘Jewish Lobby’ (as Hagel himself called it).

Freeman’s Saudi and Chinese connections did him in. He wasn’t a member of the Senate who could expect to receive many votes out of collegial courtesy. The administration saw the handwriting on the wall and didn’t push it.

But this time the calculations are that Hagel can make it. This is despite the fact that many Senators will vote against him because his positions on issues of national security and foreign policy are far to the left of the mainstream for that body. What can you say about someone who opposed economic sanctions on Iran and a resolution calling Hizballah a “terrorist organization,” and suggested that the US president negotiate with Hamas?

It’s not as though there aren’t other good candidates, including some who are much more experienced in the details of running the complicated defense establishment, such as the highly competent Michelle Flournoy.

Unfortunately, the administration has succeeded in making the issue of Hagel all about Israel and Jews, rather than about a potential Secretary of Defense with little practical experience who seems to think that a nuclear Iran is acceptable. One wonders if the president himself views it this way, and sees the nomination as a way to punish and humiliate Israel (and perhaps the “Jewish Lobby”).

That would be really, really stupid, a classic case of allowing the anti-Israeli tail to wag the dog of real American interests.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Chuck Hagel told Israel Supporters: “Let the Jews Pay for It!”

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Whether or not former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel will be nominated by President Obama to be the U.S. Secretary of Defense remains a guessing game.  Last week the rumor mill was working full steam, with confident announcements that the nomination would be announced “on Monday.”  We’re now closer to the next Monday and that announcement still hasn’t been made, but other ones have, and the picture of Chuck Hagel looks less and less attractive all the time.

According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, during the late 1980′s, when Chuck Hagel was the president and chief executive officer of the World United Service Organizations (USO), he threatened to close down the Haifa USO Port because of financial concerns.  The USO is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides services and recreation to members of the U.S. military.

The Haifa USO Port was opened in late 1984, as the Sixth Fleet had begun making regular stops at the port since the late 1970s, and especially in the wake of the bombing of the U.S. Marine’s barracks in Beirut.  The Haifa USO was open 24 hours a day when U.S. ships were in port.

Hagel’s conduct regarding the effort to keep the port open shocked Jewish leaders who were part of a discussion with him about the matter in 1989, according to the Beacon‘s report.

“He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it’,” said Marsha Halteman, director for military and law enforcement programs at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which led the battle to keep USO Haifa operational.

According to Halteman, Hagel’s behavior was clearly anti-Semitic.

“He essentially told us that if we wanted to keep the USO [in Haifa] open—and when I say ‘we,’ he meant ‘the Jews’—he said the Jews could pay for it,” said Halteman, who recalled being taken aback by the comment.

“I told him at the time that I found his comments to be anti-Semitic,” she said. “He was playing into that dual loyalty thing.”

Despite Hagel’s behavior,  a combination of congressional support, appeals from the Sixth Fleet, and the efforts of JINSA to raise substantial funds, enabled the Haifa port to stay open.  It was not until the fall of 2002 that the Haifa USO port finally closed for good because  of security concerns — this was the height of the Second Arab Uprising.

The Beacon report quotes a USO spokesperson as saying they have “no records of any discussion to close the USO Center in Haifa while Charles Hagel was CEO and President of the USO from 1987 to 1990,″ adding that the USO staff “are still working to determine when after 2000 the USO Center in Haifa closed.

But an Internet search uncovered an AP report from 1990 which clearly states that the port almost closed because of financial concerns.  An article from the Times of London reveals that the U.S. military banned its members from stopping at the Haifa port following the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen on October 12, 2000.

What is perhaps even more shocking – if true – than Hagel’s comments that Jews should pay for the Haifa USO Port is that, according to a conservative Nebraska blogger, Hagel once told an employee of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Ally Milder, that she was a “[expletive] tool from AIPAC.”

Add to these latest examples of—shall one say—surprisingly indelicate behavior, the news that even such liberal politicians as outgoing Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) are “strongly opposed” to Hagel becoming Secretary of Defense, and it becomes increasingly hard to imagine that Hagel will get the nod. But if Hagel does get the nod, it is even harder to imagine that his nomination will survive the confirmation process.

Obama’s Priorities: Immigration, the Economy, Energy, Taxes; Hagel Still Front Runner for Defense (Video)

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Because we’re the Jewish Press, we’ll start with the Chuck Hagel nomination for Secretary of Defense, and move down from there. Speaking with David Gregory on Sunday’s Meet the Press, President Barack Obama voiced strong support for the former Republican Senator from Nebraska. The president insisted, however, that he was yet to make the final decision on the nomination.

In preparation for the nomination dance, Hagel released a statement Friday apologizing for comments he made in 1998 about a gay ambassadorial nominee. Hagel had come under fire in recent days for calling James Hormel, President Clinton’s nominee for ambassador to Luxembourg, “openly, aggressively gay.”

Sounds dangerous…

Hagel’s statement was published by the Washington Post: “My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”

Emphasis on “military.”

Last week, Miami Beach’s Jewish elderly population’s favorite presidential candidate Pat Buchanan endorsed Hagel’s nomination.

Among Hagel’s many qualifications, Buchanan wrote, are his views on Iran, and if the president himself decides against going to war, he’ll have to make the case regardless of whether he nominates Hagel: “If Obama does not want that war, he is going to have to defeat the war party. Throwing an old warrior like Chuck Hagel over the side to appease these wolves is not the way to begin this fight. Nominate him, Mr. President. Let’s get it on.”

Buchanan admitted that Hagel had a few Jewish skeletons in his closet. Like when he told author Aaron David Miller that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up” on the Hill. Or when he urged the U.S. to talk to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Or when Hagel said, a few years back, that “a military strike against Iran … is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”

Both Buchanan and Hagel have been accused of anti-Semitism, Hagel for saying the Jewish lobby wields too much influence on Capitol Hill and Buchanan for—oh, take your pick…

He’s how the president approached the subject of Hagel nomination on Meet the Press, courtesy of policymic.com:

GREGORY: “Former Senator Chuck Hagel has come under criticism for some comments he’s made including about a former ambassador nominee during the Clinton years that being gay was an inhibiting factor to being gay to do an effective job. Is there anything about Chuck Hagel’s record or statements that’s disqualifying to you, should you nominate him to run the Defense Department?” …

OBAMA: “Not that I see. I’ve served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate. Somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam. And is somebody who’s currently serving on my intelligence advisory board and doing an outstanding job.

“So I haven’t made a decision on this. With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it. And I think it’s a testimony to what has been a positive change over the last decade in terms of people’s attitudes about gays and lesbians serving our country. And that’s something that I’m very proud to have led.”

* * * And now, because there are other things of concern happening in the world other than the question of whether a non-ally of Israel replaces Leon Panetta, here are some quotes from today’s interview:

GREGORY: “If you go over the cliff, what’s the impact in the markets?”

OBAMA: “Obviously, I think business and investors are going to feel more negative about the economy next year. If you look at projections of 2013, people generally felt that the economy would continue to grow, unemployment would continue to tick down, housing would continue to improve. But what’s been holding us back is the dysfunction here in Washington. And if people start seeing that on January 1st this problem still hasn’t been solved, that we haven’t seen the kind of deficit reduction that we could have had had the Republicans been willing to take the deal that I gave them, if they say that people’s taxes have gone up, which means consumer spending is going to be depressed, then obviously that’s going to have an adverse reaction in the markets.”

* * * GREGORY: “How accountable are you for the fact that Washington can’t get anything done and that we are at this deadline again? … You’ve had a tough go with Congress.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/obamas-priorities-immigration-the-economy-energy-taxes-hagel-still-front-runner-for-defense-video/2012/12/30/

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