יום ראשון   19-01-2020
תמלול הכתבה: תיקון עולם – מי אמר שהייגל רע ליהודים?

Chuck Hagel’s Secretary of Defense Nomination Makes U.S. Attack on Iran Less Likely 

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a high drama playing out in Washington DC.  As Pres. Obama prepares to enter his second term later this month, several key cabinet members including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and defense secretary Leon Panetta are leaving.  They will be replaced respectively by John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, if they are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Though Kerry’s nomination is a done deal, Hagel’s has been anything but.  Chuck Hagel is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.  Though a former Republican senator, he is known as a moderate and a maverick.  He voted to support the Iraq war, but almost immediately turned against it.  Hagel is known to be skeptical of military intervention in general as a policy, and specifically is against not just a military strike against Iran, but even the sanctions regime currently in place.

This, as you can imagine, has driven Republican neoconservatives and the Israel lobby around the bend.  They’ve dredged up a quotation from an interview in which Hagel referred to the Israel lobby as the “Jewish lobby.”  This is supposed to prove that Hagel is an anti-Semite.

What this theory neglects is that Israel’s leaders themselves contribute to the confusion between the terms “Jewish” and “Israeli” when they conflate the two saying that, for example, Iran wants to destroy not just Israel, but the entire Jewish people.  It’s hard to fault Hagel for making the same mistake Zionists have been making for decades when they turn Israel and Zionism into a form of Jewish religion.

Bibi has publicly renounced any interest in Hagel’s nomination claiming that such matters should be left to Americans.  That’s quite ironic considering that Bibi recorded a TV commercial for Mitt Romney that was aired in the key swing state, Florida.  Perhaps Romney’s decisive defeat persuaded Bibi of his mistake, though I doubt it.

For weeks before Hagel’s nomination was formalized, there was constant sniping of this sort against him.  But then a strange thing happened.  Reasonable journalists and analysts started to speak up.  Tom Friedman was perhaps the first when he wrote a NY Times op-ed in Hagel’s favor.  Then others followed suit and it became a groundswell of reasonableness to counter the raucous shouts of the neocons seeking to torpedo Hagel.

Barack Obama, never known for sticking his neck out or making the bold political move, responded in a way that was uncharacteristically bold: he actually nominated Hagel.  I have to admit that I was stunned.  I’ve become used to an Obama who compromises or vacillates; who is too cool or calculating to stand up for principles he believed in.  I feared the Israel lobby would once again destroy the chances to nominate a courageous, independent thinker for high office.

The satirical newspaper, The Onion, even ran a spoof saying that if Hagel won confirmation that Bibi would exercise his veto, as if ultimate control of U.S. policy rested not with Barack Obama but with Israel’s prime minister.  The joke made even more pointed reference to the toxic influence Israel and the Lobby has on Mideast-related policy debate.

Now it appears that Hagel has the votes to be approved by the Senate.  What will he be like as defense secretary?  First, he will not be Bibi’s cup of tea.  He will further reinforce the distance that’s developed between U.S. and Israeli approaches on issues like Iran.

If a U.S. attack under Pres. Obama was unlikely before, it appears almost unthinkable now.  Hagel, after all, regularly says that the only people who are eager to send boys off to war are men who’ve never fought in one themselves.

Hagel’s nomination does not mean the U.S. will abandon Israel.  In fact, Hagel has pledged his support for Israel and said it would be even stronger on his watch.  The intelligence cooperation will continue.  The arms shipments will continue.  The Security Council support will continue.

But Hagel will provide Obama fresh, unvarnished advice about military matters; and this has to alarm the Israeli government.  Hagel does not easily accept consensus-thinking.  He thinks outside the box.  He questions established wisdom.  While he won’t take any radical action to harm Israeli interests, he will encourage the president to consider contrarian ideas.  Again, this will not sit well with the Lobby and the Israeli government, which feels much more comfortable with politicians who toe a conventional pro-Israel line.

All this means that if Bibi Netanyahu wants someone to use force against Iran, it’s very likely going to have to be himself to do it.  Whether this means war with Iran is more or less likely, only Bibi himself knows.

סוף תמלול הכתבה: תיקון עולם – מי אמר שהייגל רע ליהודים?
 
 

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  1. איתי 19 בינואר, 2013  בשעה 21:47

    כל הכבוד על הרעיון המעולה להעלות את הפינה הזו של סילברסטין. מערנן ומחכים.

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