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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘secretary of defense’

President’s Nomination of Hagel May Encourage Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense risks increasing the likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. It poses that risk because Hagel is well known for his opposition both to sanctions against Iran and to employing the military option if necessary.

These views are inconsistent with the very different views expressed by President Obama. The President has emphasized on numerous occasions that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and will use military force if necessary to prevent that “game changer.”

The nomination of Hagel thus sends a mixed message to the mullahs in Tehran, who will likely interpret it as a change from a red light to a yellow or green one when it comes to their desire to develop nuclear weapons. Sending a mixed message at this point can increase the chances that Iran will miscalculate and act in a foolhardy manner thus requiring the actual use of the military option—an eventuality that nobody wants.

The goal of America’s policy toward Iran has always been to frighten the mullahs into believing President Obama’s threat to use military force if sanctions fail. “I don’t bluff,” President Obama has famously and publicly stated. It is imperative that the Iranian leadership believe this. If they do, they may well decide that the sanctions they are currently undergoing are too painful to endure, if the end result is that they will never be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. If they don’t believe President Obama’s threat, then the sanctions alone will not dissuade them from pursuing their nuclear goal. The nomination of Senator Hagel will strengthen the hand of those within the Iranian leadership who think that President Obama is bluffing.

It is also important that the Israeli leadership believes that President Obama really has Israel’s back when it comes to preventing Iran from endangering the Jewish state by obtaining nuclear weapons. Any loss of trust in this regard may result in an Israeli decision to take unilateral military action to protect its citizens against nuclear attacks.

This is the wrong time to send mixed messages by nominating a man who has, at best, a mixed record with regard to sanctions and the military option against Iran and with regard to having Israel’s back.

Senator Hagel will have an opportunity to clarify, and hopefully to change, his previous statements with regard to these issues. He should be asked probing questions about sanctions, about the military option and about Israel’s security. In his answers he must persuade the Iranian leadership that there is no distance between his current views and those of the President who has nominated him. The President must also persuade the Iranian leadership that his nomination of Hagel does not constitute any backing down from his commitment to use military force, if sanctions don’t work.

Independence may be a virtue for a senator, but it is a vice when it presents conflicting messages at a time when it is imperative that the Iranian leadership understand that the Obama Administration, indeed the United States as a whole, speaks with one voice when it says that Iran will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, even if that requires the use of military force if all other options fail.

Normally a president, especially a president reelected to a second term with a substantial majority, should be entitled to pick his own Secretary of Defense. But when the President’s decision risks sending a mixed message that could increase the chances of having to employ the military option against Iran, the Senate has an especially important role to play. The burden is now on Senator Hagel to persuade the Senate, the American people, and the leaders of Iran that he is fully supportive of the President’s commitment not to contain a nuclear armed Iran, but to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring, even if that requires the use of military force to achieve that commendable goal.

Nor is this a liberal-conservative or Democratic-Republican issue. Reportedly, the Hagel nomination has been very controversial within the White House itself, with some of President Obama’s closest advisers being critical of it. Many Democrats, both elected officials and rank and file voters, are deeply concerned about the wisdom of the President’s nomination of Senator Hagel.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Noxious Nominations: The Four Horsemen of the American Foreign Policy Apocalypse

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

I did a lot of soul-searching before writing yesterday’s article, “After the Fall: What Do You Do When You Conclude America is (Temporarily or Permanently) Kaput?” Of course, I believed every word of it and have done so for a while. But would it depress readers too much? Would it just be too grim?

Maybe U.S. policy will just muddle through the next four years and beyond without any disasters. Perhaps the world will be spared big crises. Possibly the fact that there isn’t some single big superpower enemy seeking world domination will keep things contained.

Perhaps that is true. Yet within hours after its publication I concluded that I hadn’t been too pessimistic. The cause of that reaction is the breaking story that not only will Senator John Kerry be the new secretary of state; that not only will the equally reprehensible former Senator Chuck Hagel be secretary of defense, but that John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism advisor, will become CIA chief.

About two years ago I joked that if Kerry would become secretary of state it was time to think about heading for that fallout shelter in New Zealand. This trio in power—which along with Obama himself could be called the four horseman of the Apocalypse for U.S. foreign policy—might require an inter-stellar journey.

Let me stress that this is not really about Israel. At the end of Obama’s second term, U.S.-Israel relations will probably be roughly where they are now. Palestinian strategy–both by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas–has left the United States no diplomatic or “peace process” option on that front. The problem is one of U.S. interests, especially the American position in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world.

You can read elsewhere details about these three guys. Here I will merely summarize the two basic problems:

–Their ideas and views are horrible. This is especially so on Middle Eastern issues but how good are they on anything else? True, they are all hostile to Israel but this isn’t the first time people who think that way held high office. Far worse is that they are pro-Islamist as well as being dim-witted about U.S. interests in a way no foreign policy team has been in the century since America walked onto the world stage.

Brennan is no less than the father of the pro-Islamist policy. What Obama is saying is this: My policy of backing Islamists has worked so well, including in Egypt, that we need to do even more! All those analogies to 1930s’ appeasement are an understatement. Nobody in the British leadership said, “I have a great idea. Let’s help fascist regimes take power and then they’ll be our friends and become more moderate! That’s the equivalent of what Brennan does.

–They are all stupid people. Some friends said I shouldn’t write this because it is a subjective judgment and sounds mean-spirited. But honest, it’s true. Nobody would ever say that their predecessors—Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus—were not intelligent and accomplished. But these guys are simply not in that category. Smart people can make bad judgments; regular people with common sense often make bad judgments less often. But stupid, arrogant people with terrible ideas are a disaster.

Brennan’s only life accomplishment has been to propose backing radical Islamists. As a reward he isn’t just being made head of intelligence for the Middle East but for the whole world! Has Brennan any proven administrative skill? Any knowledge of other parts of the world? No. All he has is a proximity to Obama and a very bad policy concept. What’s especially ironic here is that by now the Islamist policy has clearly failed and a lot of people are having second thoughts.

With Brennan running the CIA, though, do you think there will be critical intelligence evaluations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, or even Hamas? Is the CIA going to warn U.S. leaders about the repression against women, Christians, and moderates? Will there be warnings that Islamists are taking over Syria or reports on Islamist involvement in killing Americans in Benghazi? Can we have confidence about U.S. policy toward Iran?

To get some insight into his thinking, consider the incident in which a left-wing reporter, forgetting there were people listening, reminded Brennan that in an earlier private conversation he admitted favoring engagement not only with the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah but also the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Ask yourself this question: when an American intelligence chief told Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood was a moderate, secular group who approved that line of argument?

Barry Rubin

A Bad Pick for Secretary of Defense

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

He’s going to be confirmed. Sadly. Chuck Hagel who was nominated by the President to serve as his Secretary of Defense will eventually be confirmed by Congress for the job. This could in theory spell disaster for the State of Israel.
If you are Jewish or a supporter of Israel – unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere you have probably heard by now that Hagel cannot under any reasonable interpretation of his past statements be considered a friend of the Jewish people. The most troubling of those statements is the following (from The Telegraph):

“[T]he Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” and “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.”

I am absolutely convinced that during Congressional hearings he will explain these comments away. He will say that “some of his best friends are Jewish” or some such “reassuring” comment to show that he is not an anti Semite. He will explain that he has no animosity at all toward the Jewish people and was merely expressing the truth about a very powerful lobby… and that he might have used the same language about the gun lobby.

Why did he use the phrase “Jewish Lobby” instead of “Israeli Lobby”? Well… that was just a slip of the tongue. The Israeli Lobby is comprised of Jews. It’s an easy mistake to make. He perhaps might point to “ distinguished” American Jews like Noam Chomsky or Tony Kushner who have been very critical of Israel. He may point to Jewish groups like J-Street who defend him – touting his pro Israel voting record. A record that is selectively cited. A fuller record shows that this support is questionable.

He will defend his beliefs with respect to Israel dealing directly with Hamas and the US negotiating directly with Iran as reasonable. And the truth is that these positions are not necessarily anti-Semitic. They are just radical. And in my view very naïve if not down right stupid. Especially since both of those positions are in diametric opposition to US foreign policy. A policy signed onto by the President himself. And for good reason. But I digress.

Because of answers like these and the apology he gave with respect to his insulting comments about homosexuals, he will be confirmed. Which to me – is very disappointing.

It bothers me that a high ranking official in the government – perhaps the 2nd most important position in the cabinet after Secretary of State is being given to a latent anti Semite.

That’s right. I think he is an anti Semite. Even if he doesn’t think he is. There is no way anyone who uses the term Jewish Lobby in the pejorative way he did is not in some way anti Semitic. He may not want to ship all Jews in America into death camps. In fact I would be willing to bet he would be willing to fight a war over such a notion. But that does not mean he doesn’t have a softer but still bigoted view of us.

From that kind of statement it can be seen that he thinks “the Jews” have too much power in the US. That’s what a phrase like “Jewish Lobby” has come to mean. It is a favorite phrase of every fringe group in the world who hates Jews. Like the Neo-Nazis or the KKK. It suggests images of a “Zionist conspiracy” and a “Zionist occupied government.” It hints at the suggestion that the Jews are running the country… and that he – Hagel – stands alone as a bulwark against the Jewish Lobby as an “American” senator. Not an “Israeli” senator. This kind of talk makes him hero to those fringe groups.

It is also a fact that the Israeli Lobby is not comprised of just Jews. Evangelical Christians are as much supporters of Israel as Jews are. More in fact. These Christian Zionists are more pro Israel Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is.

Jewish Lobby indeed! This was not a mere slip of the tongue. This was his true thinking being exposed in an unguarded moment of candor.

It isn’t only me who feels that Hagel’s comments are troubling. It isn’t even only Jewish interest groups like the ADL that thinks so. It is also the view of many of America’s most distinguished senators that think so. On both sides of the political aisle. Like Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chuck Shummer. And they are not even Christian Zionists. Are they part of the Jewish Lobby too? As Senator Graham said:

Mr Hagel “would be the most antagonistic secretary of defence towards the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”

I am disappointed in the President. No… I still believe that he is in not in any way an anti-Semite. I think he has chosen Hagel for his Defense Secretary simply because he likes the guy. He worked with him when they were together in the Senate and they became friends. They both opposed the Iraq war, the key issue of the day then. He sees Hagel as a principled patriot. A man who served his country heroically as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam earning two purple hearts. He likes the idea of having a Republican on his team… making it more bi-partisan. At least in name.

President Obama is no anti-Semite. He has proven that to me in many different ways. In fact he will probably choose an observant Jew, Jack Lew, for the position of Secretary of the Treasury, perhaps the 3rd most important position in the cabinet. One might even argue that in the current economic climate – it is the most important cabinet position. And then there is the unprecedented US financial and military aid to Israel… and the unprecedented intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

Anyone who suggests that Obama is an anti Semite is just blinded by pure hatred for the man in my opinion. It is demonstrably untrue. I should add that anyone who suggests that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright had anything to do with Obama’s policies on Israel or his choices for who will serve in his cabinet is truly living in a fantasy world.

This makes it all the more perplexing as to why he would choose Hagel for the job. Even if he likes him personally. Why would he want to antagonize American Jews with such a pick? Why would he choose to antagonize Congress – many members have already said that they are troubled by this man and will not have an easy time voting to confirm him? Why spend political capital on such a controversial pick when he needs allies in the coming battle over the budget? It’s not like it was smooth sailing in that department recently.

Pundits are saying that he is sticking with Hagel because he had to back down with Susan Rice as his choice for Secretary of State. He doesn’t want to back down again and show weakness.

What a mess. I don’t like Hagel. I think he has animosity towards Israel and I firmly believe that he is no friend of the Jewish people.

I can just hear it now. I fear that if Israel ever faces existential danger such as that threatened by Iran, Hagel might just say that he is the Secretary of Defense of the US… and not the Defense Minster of Israel. He would argue that he has seen the horrors of war and does not want to spill one drop of American blood in yet another foreign war… and while he is sympathetic to Israel’s plight, bottom line is that Israel is not our concern.

It’s too bad the President has chosen this man for this job. As I said, he will probably be confirmed. All he needs is a simple majority of congress. He’ll probably get it. (Although I still hope he doesn’t)

I wish he had chosen Susan Rice or even Colin Powell. Compared to Hagel they are a Zionists.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Benter’s Back

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

It shouldn’t come to any of us as a surprise that, like any political campaign, getting yourself confirmed as Secretary of Defense takes big bucks for advertising, lobbying, PR, etc.

So who is funding the ‘campaign’ of Chuck Hagel, whom Jennifer Rubin called “the most anti-Israel nominee in recent memory (in either party)?”

Josh Rogin tells us:

…without White House assistance before Monday’s official nomination and without a staff of his own, Hagel was ill-equipped to fight the onslaught of negative publicity coming from his many critics, and his critics were able to set the initial frame and tone of the coming confirmation debate.

But over the last two weeks, Hagel’s friends in the Democratic political world have come to his aid, principally by rounding up senior former officials to write supportive op-eds and funding an advertising effort to spread the word that Hagel does in fact have bipartisan support.

The Cable has learned that a large chunk of that pro-Hagel money is coming from one Democratic donor, gambling legend Bill Benter, who is working with the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm, to support pro-Hagel advertising.

Benter is the shadowy mathematician with CIA and Arab connections who figured out how to beat the odds at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley race track, and funneled more than $800,000 through an ‘associate,’ the even shadowier Connie Esdicul, into the up-and coming J Street organization in 2010.

J Street, if you have forgotten, is the fake “pro-Israel” lobbying group which has consistently worked against Israel’s interests in Washington — also with Arab connections — all the while claiming that they are doing it for Israel’s own good.

Just like, er, Chuck Hagel. In fact J Street supports Hagel, and its positions on Iranian sanctions, Hamas, etc., almost precisely agree with his. Which, surprisingly enough, are the same as those of George Soros, another big J Street funder, and of President Barack Obama.

This is one of those times that I wish the anti-Semites were right, and that there was actually a semi-covert, powerful and well-funded Jewish lobby forcing the captive US (“Zionist-occupied”) government to do its bidding.

Instead, there is a Jewish community sharply divided on many political issues — and a large part of that community has decided that if it comes down to a choice between Israel and what it calls ‘progressive values,’ they’ll choose the latter.

And this is alongside a semi-covert, powerful and well-funded anti-Israel lobby, which is not at all divided about what it wants.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Vic Rosenthal

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.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Mr. President, What Are You Thinking?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

This isn’t just about finding someone who has a more balanced view of Middle Eastern politics. This is about the most insidious type of anti-Semitism. The kind that is so subtle that there are actually Jewish organizations that defend him. Like J-Street recently did.

Chuck Hagel was a senator from Nebraska from 1996 to 2008. He is also a Vietnam War veteran who earned several medals during his service there. I used to admire him before I found out how he thinks. How can you not admire someone who puts his life on the line and serves his country with valor? His more or less conservative political views also had some appeal to me as a right leaning political moderate.

But then he started making comments like “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” That makes Professors John Mearshiemer and Stephan Walt look like members of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). For those who don’t recall, those two academicians wrote a book about how much the Zionist lobby has too much influence on US foreign policy.

As Brett Stevens points out in his excellent Wall Street Journal analysis, Mearsheimer and Walt understand that the Israeli lobby is not a solely a Jewish lobby. A lot of support for the policies of say AIPAC comes from Christian Zionists. If AIPAC only represented Jews it would have no influence at all. We are less than 2% of the population and an insignificant factor politically. And many do not even subscribe to the policies of AIPAC. Ask J-Street.

When I started hearing statements like this from Mr. Hagel, I knew that his antipathy was not reserved for those who support the state of Israel. It was reserved for us. The Jews. This is how anti-Semitism in Europe flourished. Nazism didn’t start in one day. It built up over time as we gained more wealth and influence there. By the time Germany was in enough dire straits to elect a Hitler, the Jewish people were ripe for becoming the scapegoat of choice. All that subtle prejudice turned into an eventual Holocaust aided and abetted by a willing populations in countries like Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine.

How many times do we have to hear statements like “The Jews have too much Power” before we realize that the people saying it are anti- Semites?!

Of course Chuck Hagel will, I’m sure, deny that he is a anti-Semite. I’ll bet that he can even point to things that will “prove” it. I’m sure that he will say something like “Some of my best friends are Jewish”! Don’t believe it. I don’t buy that kind of “friendship” for a minute.

I for one was glad that he retired from the Senate. One less anti-Semite to worry about. A dangerous one who was a war hero. His political views with respect to Israel are not at all unlike those of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Recall that Wright too served the military with distinction. He was chosen as part of a medical team charged with the care of then President Lyndon Johnson. And was thanked for that in a personal letter by an Admiral on behalf of the President.

The only difference between Hegel and Wright is the level of subtlety. Wright does not mince words. Hegel tires to come off as a courageous public servant who refuses to be influenced by powerful lobbies. Like the Jewish one.

I bring all of this up because Hagel’s name has surfaced as President Obama’s possible choice to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense – probably the second most powerful cabinet position. One one that has a direct impact on Israel. The most powerful cabinet position is Secretary of State. The leading contender for that is John Kerry. Not too thrilled about that choice either. I would have preferred Susan Rice. But Kerry is gold compared to Hagel. I cannot imagine too many people who would be a worse choice for such a powerful position. Maybe Jeremiah Wright.

I somehow can’t believe that the President doesn’t know about Mr. Hagel’s antipathy towards Israel. It is surprising that he is being considered at all, let alone that he is apparently the front runner.

I know the President is not an anti- Semite. I also know that he supports the State of Israel (despite the insistence by many who say he doesn’t). He has proven to me that he does. That he has differences with them over some polices does not make him anti Israel. Nor do I feel that way even though I disagree with him on some of those policies.

In describing the “ripe” odor of Hagel’s prejudice based on the word “intimdates” in the quote above – here is a particularly trenchant excerpt from Steven’s WSJ article:

Ripe, finally, because Mr. Hagel’s Jewish lobby remark was well in keeping with the broader pattern of his thinking. “I’m a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator,” Mr. Hagel told retired US diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2006. “I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a president. Not a party. Not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Read these staccato utterances again to better appreciate their insipid and insinuating qualities, all combining to cast the usual slur on Jewish-Americans: Dual loyalty. Nobody questions Mr. Hagel’s loyalty. He is only making those assertions to question the loyalty of others.

Still, Mr. Hagel managed to say “I support Israel.” This is the sort of thing one often hears from people who treat Israel as the Mideast equivalent of a neighborhood drunk who, for his own good, needs to be put in the clink to sober him up.

All this points to why the possible choice of Chuck Hegel for Secretary of Defense is so troubling. Can you imagine what this guy would do if Israel’s security depended on some additional US help – whether military or financial?

He would very likely lobby hard against it to the President – arguing that Israel should not be America’s concern; that we have already helped them too much; and have already spent too much of the American tax-payer’s money on them in. Especially in the financially strapped economy we are in!

I hope and pray that this does not come to fruition. It could mean disaster for Israel – and ultimately for world peace.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Oppose Hagel for Defense

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

The rightosphere has come out swinging against retired Senator Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination for secretary of defense.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think Hagel was a Democrat.  (He represented Nebraska as a Republican from 1997 to 2009.)  But the leftosphere is in the game too – and if you didn’t know better, you’d think opposing Hagel for the post was a “Jewish” thing.

Hagel’s record on US policy towards Israel is indeed a poor one.  Hagel publicly urged President Bush in 2006 to get Israel to simply cease her counterattack on Hezbollah – unilaterally, and with no assurances or even security goals obtained – when the terrorist group had attacked Israeli civilians and abducted two of her soldiers.  Hagel also declined that year to endorse designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.  He later opposed designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, in spite of its Qods Force’s involvement in terrorist attacks in the Middle East, and its support of and close relationship with Hezbollah and Hamas.

It’s one thing to recognize the truth about the terrorists and yet disagree with a particular administration’s policy.  It’s another thing, however, to pretend that the terrorists aren’t terrorists.  This latter thing is a disqualifier for the post of secretary of defense.

Chuck Hagel writes his own narrative, in which threats aren’t really threats and policies that actually work are just horrible, and that is the basic reason why he would make a very bad secretary of defense.  He doesn’t just disagree with sensible people on what our policy should be; he disagrees on what’s going on.  He characterizes the situation unrealistically.

His unrealism is captured well in an interview he did for the Financial Times in August 2011.  Hagel is comically vague in the first part of the interview, never answering the interviewer’s question (about Assad and Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring).  His comments are a masterpiece of bromide-filled evasion.

As the exchange unfolds, Hagel praises the assassination of Osama bin Ladin:

…a masterful job, a spectacular job, and a job that all Americans can be proud of, on how it was carried out, and the process and every aspect, step along the way.  Professionalism.

He has very different words for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, characterizing it as follows:

It was a terrible mistake that’s cost us in terrible ways.  The consequences are going to flow out of that mistake for many years.

Considered together, these are really idiotic comments from a potential secretary of defense.  Regrettably, there is no other way to put it.  Hagel’s evaluations are emotional, and bear no relation to the actual value of the national-security operations in the two cases.

The US military did a fantastic job, and bin Ladin is finally dead. But Al Qaeda isn’t – nor, more importantly, is Salafism, or radical Islamism in any form.  Except for the sense of justice for Americans, the death of bin Ladin was meaningless.  It had no national-security import at all.  Al Qaeda is operating robustly today in Syria and Libya.  When we drive it out of the Horn of Africa and Yemen, it goes elsewhere, as it did when we drove it out of central Iraq in the surge in 2007.

Far from a defeated entity, Al Qaeda is gaining purpose and momentum with the Arab Spring, especially in Syria and Libya.  Its purpose has shifted somewhat, away from attacking the US and toward guerrilla operations in the Middle East.  This is part of a larger, more fundamental trend unleashed by the Arab Spring: a pitched battle for the character of the Arab world.  And, in fact, state-Islamism is a far more important emerging trend than Salafi terrorism, because leaders of nations have all the resources of a nation at their disposal, including armed forces.

Iran has been the chief example of state-Islamism for thirty years, and the pattern is alarming.  Arab nations will do things somewhat differently because of their different culture, but Mohammed Morsi has already made his radicalism clear in Egypt, and we can be sure that state-Islamism in Arab nations will be no more pacific than it is in Iran.  The outcomes in Syria and Libya are still uncertain, but in Syria, at least, the prospects for the future are increasingly grim.

J. E. Dyer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/you-dont-have-to-be-jewish-to-oppose-hagel-for-defense/2012/12/23/

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