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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chuck Hagel: Our first battle of Obama's second term

Former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block has a blunt assessment of Chuck Hagel, President Obama's apparent nominee for Secretary of Defense (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
“The record speaks for itself, on issues like consistently voting against sanctions on Iran to stop their pursuit of nuclear weapons capability, against naming [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] a terrorist organization, refusing to call on the European Union to name Hezbollah — which has killed more Americans than any terrorist group in the world except Al Qaeda — as a terrorist organization,” said Josh Block, a former AIPAC spokesman.
But former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer claims that Hagel is no different than anyone else in the Senate... or the House.
“Anybody who has ever talked to senators or congressmen behind closed doors knows you hear a lot of that,” Kurtzer said. “A lot of people won’t talk about that publicly, but Hagel talks about it in public. One can question whether it’s good politics from his standpoint, but it’s not a view that’s foreign on the Hill. … A lot of lawmakers resent being called anti-Israel if they don’t sign these letters. Then, they go out and sign these letters.”
Kurtzer called the criticism of Hagel’s policy views “terribly misguided.”
“I found him in all the years I served, including as ambassador to Israel, to be a supporter of Israel and a man also ready to discuss very frankly with the Israelis the concerns we had about certain Israeli policies,” he said.
It goes without saying that J Street is in favor.
“Sen. Hagel, should he be nominated, would be an outstanding choice for secretary of defense, and we’d be surprised by any concerted effort by anyone claiming to represent [the] mainstream of the Jewish American community raising any opposition,” said Dylan Williams of J Street. “The center of the community is exactly where Sen. Hagel is on issues relating to Israel.”
But the comparisons with Chas Freeman have already started.... And a lot of Israel haters admit that appointing Hagel would be 'payback' for Prime Minister Netanyahu's 'lack of support' for Obama's reelection bid (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Stephen Walt, junior partner of the better-known Israel-hater John Mearsheimer, writes that if President Obama nominates Hagel, it will be “a smart move.” Why? Because, “unlike almost all of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, he hasn’t been a complete doormat for the Israel lobby.” Indeed, a Hagel pick would “pay back Benjamin Netanyahu for all the ‘cooperation’ Obama received from him during the first term.” Furthermore, Walt writes approvingly, Hagel is “generally thought to be skeptical about the use of military force against Iran.”
For those of us who are pro-Israel, a Hagel nomination would be a test of how much we can help protect Israel in Obama's second term, just like defeating Chas Freeman showed that Obama wasn't going to get very far against Israel in his first term.  Oops. We didn't defeat Chas. Someone else found all those great quotes from him about China....
Why is President Obama tempted by the prospect of nominating Hagel? Because Hagel was a Republican senator. The Obama political types think they’d get credit for bipartisanship by appointing Hagel. And they think they would avoid a confirmation fight because Hagel’s former GOP colleagues wouldn’t dare oppose him: senatorial courtesy, party solidarity, and all that.
Whether Hagel is nominated is above all a test for President Obama. Is he serious about having Israel’s back? Is he serious about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons?
It’s a test as well for pro-Israel, anti-nuclear-Iran Democrats. Will they go along with a major policy role for a man they know shouldn’t be in one?
But a Hagel nomination is also a test for Republicans. Does senatorial clubbiness trump the good of the country? Do former party ties trump the importance of having a sensible and mainstream secretary of defense over the next four years?
The Weekly Standard salutes the Republican senators who stood up against the prospect of U.N. ambassador Susan Rice as our next secretary of state. But let’s be clear: Chuck Hagel would do far more damage at Defense than Rice would have done at State. To have blocked Rice and then roll over for Hagel would be a disgrace. It would even give some credence to the thesis that Rice fell victim to a kind of sexism and certainly to old-boy-network-ism. So, if President Obama goes ahead and advances what we might call a Hagelian thesis, Republicans have an obligation to embrace their role as Obama’s antithesis, and to block him. The synthesis we’ll end up with—a mainstream liberal at the Pentagon—will still be problematic, but will better serve the nation that the older Hegel once called “the land of the future, where, in the ages that lie before us, the burden of the World’s History shall reveal itself.”
Indeed. Every Senator should be contacted on this one. Every last one of them.

What could go wrong?

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At 9:47 PM, Blogger HaDaR said...

Daniel Kurtzer is one of the founders and a MILITANT of Peace Now.

NOTHING he says can be believed. He is an enemy of Israel.


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