Chuck Hagel – Not Crazy Enough

It would appear that President Obama is going to nominate Chuck Hagel to be the Secretary of Defense.

President Barack Obama’s administration has backed down from one major Senate confirmation fight — and may be running headlong into another one.
Some in the Jewish community and other Israel backers are reacting with alarm to reports that Obama is preparing to nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as secretary of defense. A senior administration official told POLITICO Friday that Hagel is the leading contender to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who’s expected to step down early next year.

While Hagel is certainly no dove he is not one that approves of the Israeli tail wagging the US dog.  This has the Israeli lobby and the neo-cons up in arms.  Daniel Larison has a couple of posts here and here on the attacks on Hagel.

Not too surprisingly Bill Kristol jumps in:

As we go to press on Friday, December 14, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel appears to be the leading candidate to become the next secretary of defense. Anti-Israel propagandists are thrilled. 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.”
Hagel certainly does have anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona fides. While still a senator, Hagel said that “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” Hagel, one of only two senators who voted in 2001 against renewing the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, also voted in 2007 against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization and opposed the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act.
Hagel also has a record of consistent hostility to Israel over the last decade. He boasted in 2008 that, unlike his peers, he wasn’t intimidated by “the Jewish lobby.” The next year, he signed a letter urging President Obama to open direct negotiations with Hamas. Later in 2009, he revisited another of his longstanding foreign policy fixations—his belief in the good intentions of the Assad regime—and told a J Street conference, “I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies.

So Chuck Hagel is sane – he realizes that a military attack on Iran would be insanely foolish and he refuses to kiss the boots of the AIPIC lobby.  A real plus in my book.

After all but endorsing  Mitt Romney during the recent Presidential campaign it would seem to be very unwise for  Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies to fight the Hagel nomination.  Like it or not Bibi has 4 more years of Obama.  The United States is about the only friend that Israel has left in the World.

Some are saying this nomination is an attempt to undermine the pro Israeli community.

Can anyone doubt that Obama falls within the substantial circle of politicans that bitterly resents the Israel lobby? This is the man who spiritually followed the rabidly anti-Israel Rev. Wright; who gave a tribute to former PLO operative Rashid Khalidi so explosive that it hasnever seen the light of day; who has never visited Israel during his time in office, despite having been as close as thirty minutes away in Egypt, and managing to go to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq; who told Jewish leaders in July 2009 that he was deliberately adopting a policy of putting daylight between America and Israel; and who snubbed Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington DC and complained to Nicolas Sarkozy about having to deal with the Israeli prime minister.

I don’t agree with much of Obama’s foreign policy but if he can successfully stop the tail from wagging the dog good for him.

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  • zephyr

    To hell with Bill Kristol and to hell with the neocons. Their legacy is on the record and it is a bloody and shameful one. I don’t agree with Chuck Hagel’s positions on a lot of things but he isn’t a kneejerk reactionary and hasn’t been afraid to disagree with either Karl Rove or George Bush. Kudos to him for not being intimidated by the Jewish lobby. I wonder if he is intimidated by the gun lobby?

  • rogerally

    Zephyr,

    Good post. I believe in Hagel’s intellectual integrity. More importantly, he is the only public official who gives a voice to enlisted men and women. Bush and most politicians, left and right, are content to continue this 21st century crusade against Islam. Hagel sees it for what it is- human cannon fodder. Our soldiers are sent off on behalf of armchair politicians who want to reinvent the Arab world view. Hagel says enough blood already. I respect him for wanting to bring our folks home and for falling on his sword with neo-cons over our Quixotic foreign policy.

  • The_Ohioan

    I’m impressed with Mr. Hagel’s willingness to express his convictions and let the chips fall where they may. I remember reading that he and his brother were on opposite sides of whether we should stay in Vietnam or not (he was for, his brother against) even as they were both serving there. He eventually changed his mind and fully embraced his brother’s position. Hopefully his reaction time has shortened.

  • ordinarysparrow

    What i remember about Hagel is his strength to stand with the soldiers concerning Agent Orange…that i respect.

  • ShannonLeee

    Hmmm…
    So Reps and liberals got rid of Rice, which then allowed Obama to go with this controversial pick…

    I’ll take it.