Skip to main content

The Obama-hating Neocon Right is trying to Swift Boat the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, by making up a fantasy scare story that Hagel, former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, long-respected moderate and thoughtful voice on foreign policy, and decorated Vietnam combat veteran, is "anti-Israel." One would like to be able to dismiss this stuff as the ranting of people for whom no amount of warmongering can ever be too much. But such Swift Boat campaigns have worked in the past, regardless of the facts.  

In times like these, don't you wish there were some Washington, DC-based Jewish-branded organization, which represented the pro-peace values and interests of the majority of Americans and the majority of American Jews, and which would push back against this kind of nonsense?

Blessed are Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe. J Street is in the house.

The New York Times reports:

"There is a very systematic effort going on, and these things can have an impact," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, which defends Mr. Hagel.

"It is simply beyond disturbing to think that somebody of Chuck Hagel's stature and significant record of national service is being slandered in this way," Mr. Ben-Ami said.

J Street has a strong statement in support of Hagel on their website: "J Streets Supports Sen. Hagel, Rebuts Charges Against Him":
J Street believes former US Senator Chuck Hagel would be a fine choice as Secretary of Defense and is appalled by efforts surfacing in recent days to question his commitment to the state of Israel and to Middle East peace.

Sen. Hagel has been one of the most thoughtful voices in Washington for two decades on questions relating to American policy in the Middle East. He has also been a staunch friend of the State of Israel and a trusted ally in the Senate, speaking out on behalf of America's commitment to Israel's security. He recognized, before many would talk about it publicly, that the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in two states is in the national security interest of the United States.

The outrageous attacks on Sen. Hagel, many from unnamed sources, are being leveled at a decorated Vietnam War hero who is widely admired as a rational and independent voice on foreign and defense policy.

Sen. Hagel was among the first in his party to realize that the US occupation of Iraq had turned into a quagmire that was taking thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives without a clear strategic rationale. He took a brave stand against the majority in his own party and led a crucial debate that helped pave the way for President Obama to withdraw American troops from Iraq.
Sen. Hagel believes in bipartisanship and compromise. He values diplomacy over the deployment of US military force. He backs international cooperation rather than unilateralism.

And he believes in peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In 2006, he wrote in an op-ed: "Until we are able to lead a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, mindless destruction and slaughter will continue in Lebanon, Israel and across the Middle East."

J Street urges all Americans to take an honest look at Sen. Hagel's honorable record rather than listening to unfounded and unsubstantiated attacks.

It's a mitzvah that J Street is very engaged on this. But if you think this is just a Jewish thing, then you just don't understand. The stakes in this battle are high for everyone who wants to end the war in Afghanistan sooner rather than later, everyone who wants to avoid war with Iran, and everyone who wants to see reasonable cuts in the bloated Pentagon budget.

On Afghanistan, AP notes: ("Pentagon front-runner Hagel has strong Obama ties, likely favors rapid Afghanistan withdrawal "):

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is a contrarian Republican moderate and decorated Vietnam combat veteran who is likely to support a more rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Often seeing the Afghan war through the lens of his service in Vietnam, Hagel has declared that militaries are "built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations." In a radio interview this year, he spoke broadly of the need for greater diplomacy as the appropriate path in Afghanistan, noting that "the American people want out" of the war.
AP noted that "Hagel's possible selection has been met with initial praise from key members of the Senate, including the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who said Hagel would be 'terrific.' "

On Iran, AP noted that "Hagel has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran. He also has backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. "

On the Pentagon budget, a Washington Post editorial noted that in September 2011 Hagel called for cuts to the Pentagon budget. On this issue, Hagel was an "early adopter," advocating a position which is now becoming mainstream in Washington. "The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated," Hagel said. "So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down." To the Washington Post editorial board, Hagel's statement is still heresy; but for the majority of Americans, this is exactly what they want to hear.  

The outcome of this battle is likely to be determined soon. If Obama nominates Hagel, easy Senate confirmation is expected. But it's possible that in the absence of a sufficiently broad and vigorous response, the neocon Swift Boaters could kick up enough dust to convince some of the Obama political people that, even though they could win the fight easily, it's not worth the fight, and life would be much easier politically if they would just appease the Right and appoint someone the Right won't object to, and move on to other things.

That outcome would be a shame, because far more than any other likely Obama nominee, Hagel represents the foreign policy that the majority of Americans voted for in 2008 and 2012: less war, more diplomacy.

The open question is whether Americans outside the Beltway could get engaged and change the dynamics. The neocon Right is very good at dominating the "inside game" in Washington. They have privileged access to DC media, like the Washington Post editorial pages. But outside the Beltway the neocon Right has little pull - most Americans, including most Republicans, don't support the endless war and empire-building agenda of the neocon Right.  

So here's a little experiment. Suppose we set up a petition on MoveOn's community petition site, SignOn. Suppose we could get a bunch of Americans to sign, if for no other reason, then on the grounds that Obama won the election, and he should get to choose the person he wants at Defense. Maybe that could change the dynamics. It's worth a try, isn't it? As Rabbi Hillel said, "If not now, when?"

The petition is here.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.


I support President Obama's reported desire to nominate Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

81%39 votes
18%9 votes

| 48 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Israel Already Has a Defense Minister (0+ / 0-)

    Avigdor Lieberman.

    At least it did until he had to resign this week on corruption and fraud charges.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:26:40 PM PST

  •  Obama will end up caving (0+ / 0-)

    Just as he always does to the lobby.  

    Let all the Bush tax cuts expire

    by Paleo on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:30:53 PM PST

    •  re: Obama will end up caving (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, docmidwest

      Maybe so. But regardless of what happens, it's a bad thing for the world for there to be no fight. Every time one of these confrontations happens, it's mainly the Lobby versus Obama and everyone else is just watching. J Street is fighting. Why doesn't anyone else want to fight? Why do people complain that Obama is weak, if when he is under attack for doing something good, no-one joins the battle on his side? We should blame ourselves for being weak. What politician fights on an issue where there is no support?

  •  it has nothing to do with i/p (7+ / 0-)

    hagel shouldn't be nominated because a democratic president should be nominating a democratic defense secretary.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:33:57 PM PST

  •  Hagel? Swiftboat the living shit out of him. (0+ / 0-)

    Why would I want a right-on-one-thing shithead like Hagel as Defense Secretary?  I hope the neocons find someone to say he was Hagel's boy toy.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:34:29 PM PST

    •  he's right on many things (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites, poco

      he's right on Iran, Afghanistan, Pentagon budget. On the Pentagon budget, he's more "left" than Panetta.

      It's your right to support the neocons. But this is not the agenda of the majority of Democrats nor the majority of Americans.


      •  Many people who are right on those things... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...are Democrats and aren't scared by social change like Hagel is.  What's wrong with picking one of them?  If Hagel were any kind of consequential figure to today's GOP I could at least remotely see picking him to widen a schism, but since he's unmentionable even among so-called Republican moderates, what do we gain?

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 03:28:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  in 2008 you were against Obama on Iraq (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rich in PA
          •  You bet I was! (0+ / 0-)

            I supported the war, and in 2007-8 I supported a candidate who had supported it, too.  I didn't think that opposing it as an Illinois state senator was some kind of calling card for the presidency.  

            You're the one saying Hagel is nifty because he opposed the war, and I'm saying that plenty of actual Democrats have that kind of record (accompanied by a much better record on other things of importance, foreign and domestic), so why not put one of them at the Pentagon?  It's not like I'm putting myself out there as a candidate.

            You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

            by Rich in PA on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 05:16:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  If that list is all that matters to you, might as (0+ / 0-)

        well appoint Ron Paul.

        "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

        by JesseCW on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 03:57:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What does AIPAC think about Hagel? (0+ / 0-)

    Aren't they the most influential?

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:46:59 PM PST

    •  Ah: I guess AIPAC started the smears. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, ancblu
      Leading the campaign is Bill Kristol, who has written this thing in the Weekly Standard. Why does Kristol think Hagel is so awful? Because Hagel has spoken out against going to war with Iran, and opposed sanctions 12 years ago when Mohammed Khatami was Iran’s president and the possibility of a thaw was in the air, and favored talks with Syria’s Assad regime, a delusion shared by many Israeli leaders over the years. Hagel has also opposed the illegal expansion of Israel’s West Bank settlements. In short, he’s been a voice for sanity in the Middle East. Which, of course, puts him “out on the fringes”  as far as Kristol’s concerned.

      In fact, Kristol is acting–as always–as a hand puppet for AIPAC, which is quietly beginning to lobby against Hagel, I’m told. The funny thing is,  a significant Kristol/AIPAC lobbying campaign would probably guarantee a Hagel nomination, given the way that the neocons, AIPAC and, most outrageously, Bibi Netanyahu worked against Obama in the 2012 campaign. The President probably would like nothing better than to send these folks a message, and a Hagel nomination would sail through the Senate, where he was popular among his colleagues.

      Read more:

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:50:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If Obama wants Hagel, then don't cave. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, Robert Naiman

    Maybe he should just clear all his appointments with Boehner and McConnell first.  Nominate Hagel and make the GOP reject him.  This is bullshit.

    Letting the GOP get Rice's scalp is just a signal to them that they can now dictate his cabinet.  What is the GOP going to do?  Refuse to extend the debt limit unless Obama nominates John Bolton?

    A new birth of freedom..

    by docterry on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:53:00 PM PST

  •  Good piece on the campaign against Hagel (0+ / 0-)

    Let all the Bush tax cuts expire

    by Paleo on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:56:32 PM PST

  •  You don't have to support The Man From Chevron (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to oppose batshit crazy Likud propaganda.

    Hagel supported the attack on the people of Iraq.  The best possible understanding is that he really is so fucking stupid he believed the aluminium tube lies.

    He does not have the Judgement to be defense Secretary.

    He has, since leaving office, cashed in on a Big Oil gravy train, collecting several hundred thousand dollars a year just to show up at a few board meetings.

    Chevron has enough influence on our policies.

    The "Anti-Israel" charge is bullshit. He's hated by a small cross section of militant fanatics who hate him because he called on both Hezbollah and the IDF to stop killing civilians in 2006.

    Everyone knows that in Washington, dead Arabs don't count.

    "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

    by JesseCW on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 03:53:58 PM PST

  •  Let them Swift Boat Hagel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrybuck, devis1, No Exit

    Any number of qualified Democrats should be getting the slot instead. We need Democratic Presidents to STOP nominating Republicants into national security positions. All it does is reinforce the meme that Repubs are strong and Dems are weak on the issue.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site