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Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in International, Politics, War | 0 comments

Will The Borking of Hagel Backfire?

I have written about the vicious attacks on Chuck Hagel by the Israeli Lobby and the neo-cons here, here and here.  James Fallows thinks the attacks may have been so baseless and vicious that they may have actually backfired.

People who have seen this sort of cycle before know how it typically ends. The nominee becomes “damaged” or “toxic” or “too hot to handle” or merely “embattled” or “controversial.” An administration that has to choose its battles, chooses not to get messed up in one like this. That’s what appeared to happen with Susan Rice last month, and with a number of proposed Obama selections four years ago.

This time, the preemptive strike may possibly have gone too far and been too crude. The most promising recent development is a letter today from nine former ambassadors, who individually and collectively embody “respectable” U.S. government views (including five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel). They all speak on Hagel’s behalf, and against the smear campaign to force Obama to drop him. The letter is at the Foreign Policy site, and you can see it there (if you want to deal with a new mandatory sign-in process that FP has instituted). Or you can read about it inPolitico. It begins this way: “We support, most strongly and without qualification, President Obama’s reported intention to nominate Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.”

Individuals who would normally remained silent are coming to Hagel’s defense. From the Foreign Policy site:

“Each of us has had the opportunity to work with Senator Hagel at one time or another on the issues of the Middle East. He has invariably demonstrated strong support for Israel and for a two-state solution and has been opposed to those who would undermine or threaten Israel’s security.”

Who signed the letter: Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to NATO and Greece;

Ryan Crocker, former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan;

Edward Djerejian, former Ambassador to Israel and Syria;

William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel;

Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt;

Sam Lewis, former Ambassador to Israel;

William H. Luers, former Ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia; Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Israel and Russia;

Frank G. Wisner, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Ambassador to Egypt and India.

Now who are you going to listen too?  These diplomats or William Kristol.

James Joyner had intended not to speak out since Hagel is his boss but:

It’s perfectly reasonable to debate Hagel’s views on the size of the defense budget, how best to respond to Iran’s nuclear program, or, indeed, US security policy vis-a-vis Israel. Even sideline discussions, such as whether it’s time for a woman to head the Pentagon or the wisdom of Democratic presidents routinely nominating moderate Republicans to this particular post, are well worth having.

What’s beyond the pale, however, is the campaign of libel and innuendo underway by the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and others declaring Hagel to be “anti-Israel” or even “anti-Semitic” in an attempt to poison the well. It’s an outrageous charge that’s sadly wielded all too often against Americans who deviate from the hard line Likudist position on the Israel-Palestine debate. We’ve somehow arrived at the bizarre point where espousing the platform of the Israeli Labor Party is enough to get an American politician labeled “anti-Israel.”

Hagel’s enemies are the perfect reason to appoint him.


Now the Cubans are after Chuck Hagel.

Rubio Threatens to Hold Hagel
Rubio comms director: ‘I’m sure we would have questions about Cuba positions’