Great news: Hagel may seek revenge against Israellikely to hold a grudge against those in whose name his nomination was opposed... including Israel.
The aim of those questioning Hagel along these lines was to use relentless attacks to batter him down from his most feared policies -- conciliation to a nuclear Iran, for instance, or reducing military aid to Israel.
"The Republican Party is rock solid in its support of Israel and determination to prevent Iran from getting a bomb," wrote Jennifer Rubin, the tireless anti-Hagel crusader, in a Tuesday Washington Post blog post. "In order to be confirmed Hagel had to pretend he was, too. That is called winning the policy war, if not the confirmation battle."
Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration national security aide, agreed that the fight had been good for the pro-Israel viewpoint, and the GOP as a whole. "The fight against Hagel presents the Republican party as a very pro-Israeli party, which is a good thing," Abrams told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
An alternative view is that the fight only diluted the hardline pro-Israel position on military aid and Iran by making it partisan, and that Hagel, having won, now feels empowered by the hardliners' failure to stop him.
"Celebrating this as a wedge issue is about the worst possible outcome from the point of view of the vast majority of the pro-Israel community," said Dylan Williams, the director of government affairs for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that supported Hagel's nomination. "When you have SNL, the Daily Show, Colbert mocking the extent to which conservative members of Congress were falling over themselves to demonstrate the most hawkish positions on Israel, that's something that the true pro-Israel community does not appreciate, and which we have every reason to believe the government of Israel itself does not appreciate."More from Seth Mandel here.
The good news is that the first foreign counterpart with whom Hagel will meet is outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Maybe Barak, who is a man of the Left but also a strong proponent of an Israeli attack on Iran can talk some sense into Hagel - at least on that score. Or maybe he can't.
What could go wrong?