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Hagel’s Anti-Israel, Pro-Iran Stance Questioned

This piece appeared in the Politico last month, when Chuck Hagel’s name was first floated as a nominee to be Secretary of Defense:

Chuck Hagel’s record on Israel draws scrutiny

Josh Gerstein | December 15, 2012

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.

Few believe Hagel’s troubles would lead the Senate to vote him down, but Obama will have to assess how big a furor pro-Israel forces will raise and whether the White House wants to deal with it. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice this week withdrew her name from consideration for secretary of state, saying she had concluded that her “confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly” for Obama and his agenda.

Actually, compared to Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice is looking pretty good now.

Advocates for Israel have a variety of policy disagreements with Hagel, but one of their biggest concerns may be his frank and unflattering public assessments of their work and role in Washington.

“The political reality is … that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” Hagel told former Mideast peace negotiator Aaron David Miller in a 2006 interview. “I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel.” …

Even non-advocates for Israel should have problems with that statement.

Hagel has also been blunt in dismissing those who think he’s not sufficiently supportive of Israel.

“I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator,” the Nebraska Republican told Miller for his book “The Much Too Promised Land,” released in 2008.

“I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that,” the senator said…

Unfortunately, several of his other comments make it sound like he is an Iranian senator. Or maybe a representative for Hamas or Hezbollah.

“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.

And we want to put him in charge of the war on terror?

While in office, Hagel sometimes challenged Republican Party orthodoxy on foreign policy issues. He was the first Republican senator to publicly criticize the war in Iraq —

Lest we forget, Mr. Hagel was originally for the Iraq War. But then he turned against it. He opposed the surge and even went so far as to vote against funding the military while we had troops in the field. Hagel also has long since opposed the war in Afghanistan.

All of which puts Hagel to the left of most Democrats, including Obama. At least, according to Obama’s public statements.

Hagel is far more aligned to Obama’s world view than to the GOP’s or most Americans. And he is probably one of the last people who should be running the Defense Department.

[Hagel] has declined to say that the U.S. should use force if negotiations don’t persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program.

In 2009, Hagel signed a policy statement urging Obama to encourage a unity government between the two major Palestinian factions: Fatah and Hamas, which the U.S. formally considers a terrorist group. The statement stopped short of calling for direct U.S. contact with Hamas at that time, but said the U.S. should encourage other parties in the region to engage with Hamas in an effort to promote moderation in the Islamic movement…

As we saw last month, Hamas is all about moderation.

A Hagel nomination could be troublesome for the White House because it could revive talk about tension between the White House and Israel. That storyline persisted through much of Obama’s first term, although Obama aides pointed to unprecedented U.S. assistance for Israel. Exit poll results from last month’s election didn’t seem to show much of a dent in Obama’s strong support in the Jewish community.

But the elections are over. And Obama has gotten all of the Jewish and military votes that he is ever going to need. So it’s time for him to let his hair down and show what he really thinks about Israel and our military.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, January 7th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Hagel’s Anti-Israel, Pro-Iran Stance Questioned”

  1. Hagel = crazy as an outhouse rat


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