In the Arena

The Anti-Hagel Campaign Begins

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The 2012 election was not a wonderful experience for neoconservatives–and it was a disaster for their beloved hero, Bibi Netanyahu, a foreign leader who tried to influence the American presidential campaign. Indeed, they’ve been proven conclusively ridiculous over the past dozen years, but still they persist. Now they’re after former Senator Chuck Hagel, a possible Secretary of Defense.

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.

Hagel is a Vietnam veteran who was severely wounded in action, and a Republican. He supported the war in Iraq at first, but wised up very quickly. He’s a good candidate for SecDef but, like John Kerry, he’s more a policy expert than an administrator, and the Pentagon severely needs administering now that overseas war operations are winding down and budget cuts take hold. There are others who’d also be good, and perhaps better administrators–Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter and former Under Secretary Michelle Flournoy are both fine candidates–but Hagel is a fine choice as well and given Kristol’s opposition, is probably now a shoo-in.