On Chuck Hagel’s Courage — With a Small ‘But’ and a Lot of ‘Digressing’

In a rapid-fire, double-down, follow-up to his first hit piece on Chuck Hagel’s alleged “Jewish Problem,” Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens praises Hagel’s honorable and courageous military service in somewhat of a qualified manner.

In “Chuck Hagel’s Courage,” Stephens immediately follows his comments on Hagel’s personal courage with “This fact…will now be trotted out repeatedly as proof of his fitness to serve in high office.”

He further pooh-poohs military service serving as the “standard by which our prospective secretaries of defense should be judged” by saying: “[N]either Edwin Stanton (Lincoln’s secretary of war) nor Henry Stimson (FDR’s) would have passed the test. Robert McNamara and Don Rumsfeld would have. But I digress.”

And digressing Stephens certainly does by recalling Hagel’s criticism of the Iraq War, mocking White House spokesman’s comment that “[Hagel] had the courage to buck his own party on the Iraq War.”

About that war, no mention of how the nation was deceived into invading and occupying another country based on bad intelligence at best; false arguments, at worse.

No mention of the more than 4,000 troops we lost — for what?

No mention of the trillions in treasure we squandered — for what?

But, heck, “The surge turned out to be George W. Bush’s finest hour—a genuine instance of political courage as opposed to Mr. Hagel’s phony ones. It rescued the U.S. from humiliating defeat. It gave Iraq a decent opportunity to stand on its feet. It allowed the U.S. to conduct an orderly withdrawal of its forces.”

And, of course, “it might have led to a long-term security relationship with Baghdad had the Obama administration not fumbled the endgame.”

In more “diressing,” Stephens regurgitates the now-all-too-familiar, desperate cherry-picking of Hagel’s comments — going back “Oh, by the way,” to 1995 — on gay issues, abortion, women’s rights and Hagel’s “evolvement” on these issues. But, above all, let us not forget Hagel’s “mental twitch” about “Israel, its enemies, and the influence of the so-called Jewish lobby…”

I could be wrong, but I do not remember Stephens writing similar columns on the “evolvement” — let’s be more direct and call it flip-flopping — on the very same social issues by his party’s candidates recently running for an even higher office: President of the United States.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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