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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘secretary of defense’

Extra Thoughts: Hagelian Dialectic

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Update: Extra thoughts that could not make the main text of “When AIPAC Went AWOL“:

(1) It is conceivable, though not likely, that Obama and AIPAC each played a Machiavellian game here: Obama expected that Hagel’s attacks on AIPAC render AIPAC less likely to impede his nomination, so as not to seem petty. Conversely, AIPAC figured that Hagel’s attacks on Israel require him to reach out to it, so as not to seem insincere in his confirmation hearings.

If these were their calculations, they have so far been borne out. AIPAC stayed mute; Hagel announced that his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign counterpart will be with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

(2) “Hagelian Dialectic” is my fantasy title for this column, referring to the German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and his highly elaborated dialectic theory of history (which Karl Marx subsequently drew on for his dialectical materialism). In the Hegelian schema, Israel is the thesis, Obama the antithesis and the Pentagon the synthesis.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org as an update to “When AIPAC Went AWOL,” available at the JewishPress.com.

Don’t Look to AIPAC for Help

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Chuck Hagel was just confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense in Obama’s administration. The media having shed plenty of light on his controversial views on Israel, Iran and the Middle-East at large, didn’t stop 58 Senators—which included four Republicans—from confirming him. One of those Republicans was the supposedly pro-Israel Rand Paul of Kentucky.

A close friend of mine—who is a staunchly pro-Israel non-Jew—expressed shock and disappointment upon hearing the news of his vote. But as we’ve learned from the story of Purim (and frankly most Jewish holidays), just when the situation looks bleak, everything is for the best in the long run.

As we’ve come to find out, Chuck Hagel’s views on Israel are not in the norm in the Republican Party. Quotes such as “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” isn’t something you’d hear from an aspiring Secretary of Defense. At least not since Secretary of State James Baker’s “f— the Jews” comment some 25 years ago.

But again, just when the situation looks dire, everything is for the best. The entirety of his quote on the “Jewish lobby”—which maybe was in fact a misnomer on his part and he meant the Israel lobby—was “The political reality is that… the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here…. I’ve always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel.”

You know what? In a way, he’s right. AIPAC, which is by and large a secular organization and the biggest Israel lobbying organization in America, has in fact done less for ‘hasbara’ or Israel advocacy movement and more to foment anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in America. The only venture they’ve succeeded in is raising capital in the name of Israel. This falsely leads people to believe that the “Jewish lobby” does in fact control American foreign policy, and it plays into the greater idea of Jews secretly controlling every aspect of American lives from cradle to the grave. AIPAC is helping the Protocols of the Elders of Zion come to life, to the tune of $3 billion annually.

And this fund-raising comes at a heavy price. The result being that when America says jump, Israel has to say how high. Therefore, Israel can never take care of business in a real way when it comes to the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Moreover, when it comes to Iron Dome, America cashes in on the very conflict which it is at best complicit with and at worst actively foments. In the long run, it’s economically not worth it for America if there’s peace in this part of the world. See: America’s arming of “rebels” in Libya and Syria.

In the case of Israel, any American administration official or bureaucrat with half a brain would by now come to understand that the true path to peace between cousin Isaac and cousin Ishmael is having Israel not give away land, because the Arab nation, when given an inch, they usually tend to demand a yard or more. And America insists on asking Israel to give that inch every single time and Israel gets nothing in return. So either the U.S. administration is daft and still hasn’t fully grasped how things work in the Middle East or they understand it and are deliberately trying to shrink Israel. (Disclaimer #1: One has a choice. One can say I’m making a sweeping generalization based on race or one can open up the history books and see the results for themselves).

For more proof see: The Oslo Accords under Clinton, Gush Katif under George W. Bush (of all people), Jimmy Carter’s book on “Israeli apartheid,” which was the intellectual inspiration for the BDS movement. Reagan suspending a shipment of military aircraft to Israel, and harshly criticizing Israel after the bombing of the Osirak reactor near Baghdad, as well as contemplating sanctions to stop the Israeli siege of Beirut. The list goes on of “bright ideas” America has given Israel and/or has propagated about it, only to result intifadas and rocket attacks.

So when it comes to Rand Paul’s vote, he feels the same way as I do. That the financial (but not moral and social) relationship between Israel and America needs to end. Not immediately but in stages. The result would be Israel handling their business as they see fit. The result would be no Hillary Clinton making 11th hour “cease-fire”—or what in Islam is called a ‘hudna,’ which is a temporary cessation of hostilities for the purpose of re-armament—deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is nothing more than a temporarily self-restraining and more sophisticated Egyptian version of Hamas. We witnessed the result just this week with rockets being hurled at Ashkelon so as to provoke Israel into conflict shortly before President Obama’s visit.

Open Letter to Sen. Charles Schumer on the Hagel Appointment

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Dear Chuck,

I write to encourage you to review and reconsider your endorsement of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. The new information that has appeared since your meeting with him on Jan. 14 suggests that his weak policies vis-à-vis Iran and his reprehensible views toward Israel run even deeper than we realized at that time.

We now know that he referred to Israel’s self-defense in 2006 as a “sickening slaughter.” That he preposterously stated in 2007 that “The State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.” That he obnoxiously said in 2010 (according to a paraphrase) that Israel was “risking becoming an apartheid state.”

Rep. Eliot Engel has characterized Hagel’s outlook as having “some kind of endemic hostility toward Israel.” I have written that Hagel “is known for only two foreign policy/defense views: being soft on Iran and hostile to Israel.”

Chuck, you and I go back to our many long dinners and debates in the college dining room in the late 1960s, when your sensible moderation first became evident. A hallmark of your career since then has been consistently to show good sense and courage on Middle Eastern issues.

As you noted with pride in an April 2010 interview, your family name “comes from the word shomer, which means guardian” in Hebrew. You mentioned that your ancestors were guardians of the Jewish ghetto in the Ukraine, adding: “I believe HaShem [God], actually, gave me my name, as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate is to be a shomer for Israel. I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.”

You expressed having had “genuine concerns” about Hagel prior to your White House meeting with him; now is the moment for you to follow the dictates of your conscience. I hope you will now come out against the Hagel nomination, a shift that will have profound repercussions for the country and secure your reputation as a shomer for U.S.-Israel relations.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, under the title, “The Hagel Nomination: An Open Letter to Sen. Charles E. Schumer,” February, 19, 2013.

More Dumb and Dumbest from Chuck Hagel (Video)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

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?”

Visit My Right Word.

AIPAC’s Silence on Chuck Hagel

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Anyone who watched Chuck Hagel’s lamentable performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week had to conclude that the man is inadequate at best, woeful at worst, as the choice for the next Secretary of Defense.

Here was a nominee who did not even know the Obama Administration’s position on Iranian nukes (he said it was containment but was quickly corrected and told it was prevention). At a time when the United States faces formidable national security threats from so many parts of the globe, it’s pretty obvious that a muddled, befuddled, and at times incoherent candidate for Secretary of Defense is a calamity in the making.

Then there is Hagel’s disastrous history of predictions, like the comment in his 2008 book, America: Our Next Chapter, where he wrote, “America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power does not decrease Iran’s influence, but rather increases it.” This was just one year before the government of Iran began to mow down its own citizens in the streets of Tehran in order to protect that “legitimacy.”

Or Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq surge, predicting, in January 2007, that it would be “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder . . . since Vietnam,” an utterly erroneous prognostication that he was correctly hammered on by John McCain at the hearings.

Or Hagel’s 1998 meeting with the elder Assad in Syria, where he said, “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.” Tell that to the sixty thousand dead who have been slaughtered by the dictator’s son.

Add to the fact that Hagel has an irrational dislike of homosexuals, voted against Iran sanctions, and believes America should be talking to terrorist organizations and Obama’s nomination becomes downright mystifying.

But what’s even more confusing is how quickly so many Jewish groups – especially AIPAC – have caved on Hagel. The same man who said that Israel didn’t need to “keep Palestinians caged up like animals,” and famously spoke of “the Jewish lobby’s” intimidation of lawmakers on Capitol Hill has been handed a get-out-of-political-purgatory-free card by many who claim to be Israel’s foremost defenders.

Senator Chuck Schumer was skeptical about Hagel but then changed his mind after a 90 minute West Wing meeting. “Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel,” Schumer said, “I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.”

Impressive. An hour-and-a-half conversation undid a twelve-year voting record, which included, as recently as 2008, a vote against an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization. Schumer is often referred to as the most influential Jewish member of the Senate. But then how could verbal assurances alone have turned him around when he is surely aware of the Jewish teaching that it is not what a man says but what he does that matters?

The Daily Beast reported that AIPAC – whose annual Policy Conference in DC I have attended for 20 years as a huge fan and supporter – has chosen to sit the Hagel nomination out, desiring as they do a positive relationship with the Pentagon and believing that President Obama has enough votes to get him confirmed.

On the surface that seems a wise choice. Why make enemies, especially if they’re going to be in powerful positions?

But what comes to mind is the famous teaching of Hillel, “If not now, when?” If you don’t use your political influence to oppose the nomination of someone who said, “I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator,” with its regrettable allusion to charges of Jewish dual loyalties, and who opposed sanctions against Iran, and who called for direct negotiations with Hezbollah and Hamas, then when will you speak up?

Indeed, demonstrating a complete absence of political will to oppose a man like Hagel has its own risks.

What are brave United States lawmakers like freshman Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to make of AIPAC’s surrender? Are they to feel that they are the ones charged with protecting Israel while organizations who stated purpose it is to do just that sit on the sidelines?

Why Hagel is Really Scary: He’s Typical of the Ruling Elite

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“Joab came to the king [David] in his quarters and said, “Today you have humiliated all your followers, who this day saved your life, and the lives of your sons and daughters…by showing love for those who hate you and hate for those who love you. For you have made clear today that the officers and men mean nothing to you.” –II Samuel, 19: 6-7

If Chuck Hagel is so much dumber than you why is he the one being nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of defense? Answer: Hagel knows how to be dumb in the right way.

In other words, He’s simultaneously even dumber than you think but also, to use an old expression, dumb like a fox. Let me explain.

In his public self-management and especially during his confirmation hearings as secretary of defense, Hagel handled himself in a manner that showed he is incapable of fulfilling a cabinet-level position.

Here’s the main example.

Hagel said, “I support the president’s strong position on containment.” Now the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with that. He did not say the president’s position advocating containment of Iran. Contrary to the way that many writers are portraying it, what he said wasn’t incorrect, just ambiguous. He could easily have recovered.

So then some of his handlers asked him to clarify and what did he do?

“I was just handed a note that I misspoke,” he announced, “that I said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don’t have a position on containment.”

Now this management alone is enough to bar him from handling one of the most important and complex jobs in the world. Let’s count the ways:

–Never admit that you’ve just been told you were wrong! He should have pocketed the note without mentioning it and simply added to his statement. What he did instead is on the level of stupidity of a television host being shown a cue card reading, “Wrap up the show, moron!” and then reading that aloud to the live audience.

–Instead, He should have said something like this: “I do not want any ambiguity in my clear statements of support for the president and for a tough policy on Iran. I support the president’s position of asserting that containment is insufficient and that our goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, leaving all options open for doing so.”

In other words, he doesn’t just not know the facts; he doesn’t know how to be a high-level official at all. He doesn’t just not know the details of international affairs; his thought is simply not coherent at all. And unlike Obama and Kerry, he doesn’t know how to hide his radicalism behind smooth phrases.

–And then he makes it worse by saying that the administration doesn’t have a policy on containment! Of course, the U.S. government does have a position on containment of Iran! It is supposedly against doing that. [Accepting that Iran has nuclear weapons and then trying to limit the damage by isolating Iran, surround it with forces, installing anti-missile and early-warning stations, etc.] President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and two now ex-defense sectaries along with tens of others expressed it daily. [Of course, it is 99 percent likely that they will end up trying containment anyway.]

For Hagel, that’s a triple goof, sort of equivalent to an Olympics gold medal winning move by a figure-skater, only in reverse!

But I have a theory. As everyone knows, Hagel is a “Republican.” Perhaps Obama was conspiring to make Hagel secretary of defense, have him show how dumb and incompetent he was, and then lead the public to conclude that all Republicans are dumb and incompetent. Brilliant as always!

Want proof? How about Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, arguably the dumbest—I didn’t say most terrible but just dumbest—member of Obama’s cabinet who is a—wait for it—Republican!

Seriously though. Can you imagine the kind of mentality that would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and the national security of the country in the hands of a man like Hagel?

A Tale of Two Chucks

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

With the support of Democratic N.Y. Senator Charles Schumer, Chuck Hagel is now almost certain to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

Israeli and pro-Israel sources in the U.S. have been very critical of the nomination (here are some of their objections). As a Senator, Hagel consistently voted against resolutions supporting Israel and condemning antisemitism. He opposed sanctions on Iran, called for negotiations with Hamas and did not support branding Hizballah as a terrorist organization. He has severely criticized Israel whenever (as in 2002, 2006 and 2008-9) it was forced to take military action against terrorists.

Hagel has consistently held to the (absurd) ‘linkage theory’, the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core problem of the Middle East, and needs to be ‘solved’ — that is, Israel must withdraw from all territories conquered in 1967 and a Palestinian state created — before other issues (like Iranian nuclearization and the spread of radical Islam?) can be dealt with (see also here as well as here).

As opposed to Hagel, Chuck Schumer has been one of the most pro-Israel members of the Senate. In 2010 he sharply criticized President Obama’s policy towards Israel:

“This has to stop,” he said of the administration’s policy of publicly pressuring Israel to end construction in Jerusalem.

“I told the President, I told Rahm Emanuel and others in the administration that I thought the policy they took to try to bring about negotiations is counter-productive, because when you give the Palestinians hope that the United States will do its negotiating for them, they are not going to sit down and talk,” Schumer told Segal. “Palestinians don’t really believe in a state of Israel. They, unlike a majority of Israelis, who have come to the conclusion that they can live with a two-state solution to be determined by the parties, the majority of Palestinians are still very reluctant, and they need to be pushed to get there.

“If the U.S. says certain things and takes certain stands the Palestinians say, ‘Why should we negotiate?’” Schumer said.

Schumer is critical to Hagel’s confirmation. Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake explain:

What seems abundantly clear is that if Schumer could make his decision on Hagel in a political vacuum, he would probably vote no. But he can’t. Schumer is widely regarded as the next leader of Senate Democrats and, as such, his opinion matters a great deal. If Schumer signaled that he would vote no, it would give cover for other Democrats to follow suit — a domino effect that almost certainly would destroy Hagel’s chances.

Schumer, of course, knows that. And he doesn’t want to own the defeat of (and blame for) a Cabinet nominee put forward at the cusp of Obama’s second term. So, if personally Schumer has reason to oppose Hagel, politically he has every reason to support him.

Schumer, being one of the smartest strategists in the Senate, understands that he likely holds Hagel’s fate in his hands. Given those stakes, our (educated) guess is that if Hagel is apologetic about some of his past statements during his meeting with Schumer, the New York Democrat will find a way to say yes.

Well, Cillizza and Blake nailed it. Schumer talked to the President and met with Hagel. And in a truly remarkable statement in which he credits Hagel with changing his mind on every Israel-related issue, endorsed him:

When Senator Hagel’s name first surfaced as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran. Once the President made his choice, however, I agreed to keep these reservations private until I had the opportunity to discuss them fully with Senator Hagel in person.

In a meeting Monday, Senator Hagel spent approximately 90 minutes addressing my concerns one by one. It was a very constructive session. Senator Hagel could not have been more forthcoming and sincere.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/a-tale-of-two-chucks/2013/01/16/

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