Ah, the wages of extremism! First, Bill Kristol writes yet another editorial trying to scuttle the Chuck Hagel nomination–and even criticizes AIPAC for eschewing public denunciations of Hagel. And then the neocons’ last best hope, Chuck Schumer weighs in.
And Schumer, after an extensive interview with Hagel, decides he’s going to support the nomination:
In a meeting Monday, Senator Hagel spent approximately 90 minutes addressing my concerns one by one. It was a very constructive session. Senator Hagel could not have been more forthcoming and sincere.
Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel, I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.
Schumer proceeds to reveal the details of the interview–and it seems that Hagel has trimmed his sails to meet official Obama Administration policy on Iran: he now says that all options, including the military option, should be on the table when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. I think this is counterproductive. Hagel was right when he said, previously, that the military option was potentially disastrous. Obama was wrong when, to please AIPAC in the midst of a political campaign, he took the containment option off the table. (We managed to contain and deter the Soviet Union’s far more threatening arsenal. The Iranian regime knows that any use of a nuclear weapon by the Iranian military or allies like Hizballah would result in total annihilation of their country.)
But that’s not important. We’re in the middle of a negotiation; it’s important for the Iranians to understand that our very patient diplomacy is reinforced by a threat of force.
What is important is that Schumer’s endorsement makes it near-impossible for the neoconservatives to block Hagel’s nomination. And Hagel’s nomination still sends important signals to Israel about our impatience with their West Bank settlement imperialism–and to Iran, that we are serious about finding a solution to this nuclear situation.