Hawks on Iraq Prepare for War Again, Against Hagel, New York Times
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: January 12, 2013
I am including only part of Jim Rutenberg’s article below
Please read the article in its entirety at New York Times on-line
Chuck Hagel is a decorated Viet Nam veteran. He put his life on the line for his country. He has also served his country with distinction and integrity in Congress. His credentials are impeccable. His ONLY agenda is to help make the United States strong and secure in the world and a true champion of freedom, justice and democracy. So why are people attacking him? And who are these guys?
Those who attack him have never served in a war, or for the most part, never even in a military uniform. They have never served “their” country other than what was in it for them. Most of these people are so-called neo-conservatives who got draft deferments during the Viet Nam war. This is the “chicken hawk” cabal that was in the forefront of the George W. Bush administration taking us to war in Iraq. They want the U.S. to go to war again, this time in Iran in a cause that would cost the U.S. dearly in lives, more money, and credibility – why – because it would benefit Israel. These are Israelcentric people who have no conscience when it comes to sacrificing American lives, and if we don’t go to war in Iran, these people will label us, any American who doesn’t want to go to war, as anti-Semitic. In their eyesn anyone in America who says something critical of Israel is an anti-Semite. It appears that their focused agenda is for America to go through a progession of Middle Eastern wars until we Americans have eliminated any and all potential threats to Israel. Never mind what the cost is to us Americans. Their sub agenda with the support of their extensive net work of Israel loyalist organizations is to squelch any American who speaks against their scheme. The only weapon that they have to silence critics is the use of the anti-Semitic label. In fact, associates of these Israelcentrics are proposing a law in California that will make it a crime to say anything critical about Israel – Cal Res 35. Be careful of what you say when you are in California. Don’t complain about the $3 Billion we give to Israel each year, or you too could become one of those despised anti-Semitics. Look it up – it’s scary.
These neo-conservative chicken hawks cloak themselves in disingenuous, patriotic sounding rhetoric to camouflage their true agenda – to use America – that America should become entrenched in another Middle Eastern war because of our “special” relationship to Israel. They hide behind the slogan, “we (neo-conservatives) do it all in the name of a strong national defense,” when in fact this over-used cliche’ is not about America’s national defense at all – it is all about Israel’s national defense.
In my opinion what would be worse than being an anti-Semite? How about someone who pretends to be American but actually is an UNAMERICAN – someone whose loyalty is to another country?
But to read a more eloquent account about neo-conservatives please read on to follow Mr Rutenberg’s article below or go on-line to his story in the New York Times.
“In the bitter debate that led up to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said that some of his fellow Republicans, in their zest for war, lacked the perspective of veterans like him, (men) who have “sat in jungles or foxholes and watched their friends get their heads blown off.”
Those Republicans (who never served in the military) in turn called him an “appeaser” whose cautious geopolitical approach dangerously telegraphed weakness in the post-Sept. 11 world.
The campaign now being waged against Mr. Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense is in some ways a relitigation of that decade-old dispute. It is also a dramatic return to the public stage by the neoconservatives whose worldview remains a powerful undercurrent in the Republican Party and in the national debate about the United States’ relationship with Israel and the Middle East.
To Mr. Hagel’s allies, his presence at the Pentagon would be a very personal repudiation of the interventionist approach to foreign policy championed by the so-called Vulcans in the administration of President George W. Bush, who believed in pre-emptive strikes against potential threats and the promotion of democracy, by military means if necessary.
“This is the neocons’ worst nightmare because you’ve got a combat soldier, successful businessman and senator who actually thinks there may be other ways to resolve some questions other than force,” said Richard L. Armitage, who broke with the more hawkish members of the Bush team during the Iraq war when he was a deputy to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, who championed the Iraq invasion and is leading the opposition to Mr. Hagel’s nomination, says the former senator and his supporters are suffering from “neoconservative derangement syndrome.” (and what syndrome might be Mr. Kristol suffering from?)
Mr. Kristol said he and other like-minded hawks (would that be like a chickenhawk?) were more concerned about Mr. Hagel’s occasional arguments against sanctions (he voted against some in the Senate), what they deem as his overcautious attitudes about military action (Now let’s see, what military action did Mr. Kristol take during the Viet Nam War – Oh, now I remember – it was a deferment from military service) against Iran (Oh, I forgot – now what do we Americans get for going to war with Iran? Oh yes – now I remember – we get to be special friends with Israel) and his tougher approach to Israel than they were about his views on Iraq — aside from his outspoken opposition to the American troop surge there that was ultimately deemed successful.
Mr. Kristol’s latest editorial argues that Mr. Hagel’s statement that he is an unequivocal supporter of Israel is “nonsense,” given his reference in a 2006 interview to a “Jewish lobby” that intimidates lawmakers (Now I do recall something about an AIPAC spokeman bragging that “All the Jews in America, from coast to coast gathered to oust (Senator) Percy. And American politicians – those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire – got the message”) into blindly supporting Israeli positions. As a matter of fact, AIPAC has a storied history of spokespeople boasting of the ability to shape election campaigns and legislation involving issues it supports or is in opposition to.
“I’d much prefer a secretary of defense who was a more mainstream internationalist — not a guy obsessed by how the United States uses its power and would always err on the side of not intervening,” he added. Of Mr. Hagel and his allies, Mr. Kristol said, “They sort of think we should have just gone away.”
In fact, the neoconservatives have done anything but disappear. In the years since the war’s messy end, the most hawkish promoters have maintained enormous sway within the Republican Party, holding leading advisory posts in both the McCain and Romney presidential campaigns as their counterparts in the “realist” wing of the party, epitomized by Mr. Powell, gravitated toward Barack Obama.
And while members of both parties think the chances are good that Mr. Hagel will win confirmation, the neoconservatives are behind some of the most aggressive efforts to derail it, through television advertisements, op-ed articles in prominent publications and pressure on Capitol Hill, where some Democrats, including Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, have also indicated reservations.
Their prominence in the fight over Mr. Hagel’s nomination is testament to their continued outsize(d) voice in the public debate, helped by outlets like The Weekly Standard, research groups like the American Enterprise Institute and wealthy Republican financiers like the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose nearly $100 million in political donations last year were driven largely by his interest in Israel. The Republican Jewish Coalition, on whose board of directors Mr. Adelson sits, was among the first to criticize the Hagel nomination.
The most outspoken among them had leading roles in developing the rationale and, in some cases, the plan for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.
One critic is Elliott Abrams, a national security adviser to Mr. Bush during the Iraq war who pleaded guilty in the Iran-contra scandal to withholding information from Congress (actually he faced multiple felony counts but entered into a plea agreemant and pled guilty to two misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress; also D.C. Court of Appeals publicly censured Abrams for giving false testimony on three occasions before congressional committees. Seems to me like this is the kind of guy who doesn’t seem to be able to tell the tuth). He called Mr. Hagel an anti-Semite who has “some kind of problem with Jews” (maybe Mr Hagel has trouble with people who don’t know how to tell the truth?) in an interview on NPR last week. (The Council on Foreign Relations, where Mr. Abrams is a senior fellow, distanced itself from his comments.)….. ”
So these are the unsavory kind of UNAMERICANS who want to keep Chuck Hagel from being the kind of Secretary of Defense, a man who would put America’s security and its citizens welfare above special friendships that seem to get us into wars in the Middle East.
So to see the rest of Jim Rutenberg’s story go on-line to NYT.com, or for those of you who have a very serious interest about corruptive influences upon the democratic process of our government, see James Wall. His most recent article on Chuck Hagel regarding the counter offensive by Israel loyalist neo-conservatives is reprinted from Sabeel, January 3, 2013 news letter:
The Hagel Narrative the Neocons Want by James M.Wall
“The Daily Beast and the Los Angeles Times are reporting that President Obama will name Chuck Hagel as his next Defense Secretary. Sources in Washington say that the nomination will be announced Monday or possibly Tuesday, of next week…..
…..look no further than the mainstream media battering Chuck Hagel (above) has received since word floated from the White House that President Obama was considering him as defense secretary.
The cabinet appointment of a highly qualified Republican senator would normally have been a no-brainer, until, in Elizabeth Drew’s perceptive phrase, “the press fed the narrative that the neocons wanted.”
Writing in a December 28, 2012 blog posting for the New York Review of Books, Drew explains how the narrative is fed:
Controversy is so much more fun than balance. Meaningless statements by some politicians are accorded great significance and foreboding: thus a big deal was made in the press of the supposedly devastating comments made by two of [Republican Senator John] McCain’s closest buddies—Joe Lieberman, who will be gone from the Senate shortly (“very tough confirmation process”), and Lindsey Graham (“it would be a challenging nomination”) on the Sunday talk shows just before Christmas.
Of course, the narrative works best when it is carried forward from both sides of the political divide. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York had “no persuasive reason to commit on a nomination that hadn’t been made”. Nevertheless, knowing he was speaking against the putative preference of a Democratic president, said that Hagel’s “record will be studied carefully”.
This was “interpreted as a serious blow to Hagel’s confirmation”. Schumer has played this part before in an earlier dissembling drama when he led the charge that forced the withdrawal of Chas Freeman from his appointment in the early weeks of Obama’s first term in office.
NBC’s Meet the Press host David Gregory has remained faithful to the narrative. On December 23, he led a discussion which reflected the narrative’s concern over criticism from Israeli supporters.
A week later, Gregory scored an exclusive Sunday morning interview with President Obama, primarily to discuss the nation’s fiscal crisis.
After the President gave Gregory his reassuring thoughts on the nation’s economic future, there was just time left for Gregory to ask a political question about the President’s second term cabinet.
As a good newsman who works for one of the major news networks, David Gregory had to pose the question: What about Chuck Hagel as a possible defense secretary? He did not mention the objections and support Hagel has received for his stands on Iran and Israel. Instead, Gregory asked the President about a 14-year-old objection Hagel had offered to a gay appointee.
The President noted that Hagel has since apologized for that mistake. This ended Gregory’s chance to make news by asking Obama what he thought of the objections raised against Hagel by extremist pro-Israel voices.
The narrative dictated by the neocons prefers to “persuade” President Obama to look away from Hagel and turn to a neocon approved candidate. The next two possible appointees, Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy, are currently in the defense department hierarchy.
Philip Weiss, cofounder of Mondoweiss, has followed the Hagel story on a daily basis. On January 1, he reported:
Rightweb, which maintains dossiers on militarists in foreign policy, has just posted new profiles of Hagel’s purported rivals Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy. They are both neocon-friendly; the dossiers remind us that neoconservatism is deeply engrained in the D.C. establishment . . .
The profile of Carter makes him out to be an Iran hawk with deep ties to the defense industry. “Carter has been adamant in his insistence that the United States consider the use of force in its efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs.”
He was part of a 2008 report on Iran, coauthored by a bunch of neoconservatives, that Jim Lobe characterized as a “roadmap to war.”
Elizabeth Drew concluded her blog posting on Hagel and his senatorial critics, by calling them out for duplicity.
[T]hese senators, employing one of the talking points that had been circulated on the Hill and published in [Bill] Kristol’s Weekly Standard, had simply indicated that the Senate Armed Services Committee’s consideration of a Hagel nomination would be rough. These innocuous statements, devoid of any real meaning, were strictly tactical. Not a single one of them said that they would vote against Hagel. (As of this writing exactly one senator, John Cornyn of Texas, has said that he would vote against the nomination.)
The neocons driving this “controversy” prefer to have Hagel’s name dropped before senate hearings are held. A few hard-core senators (starting with John Coryn) would oppose a respected former colleague. But what the neocons want to avoid is to have Hagel’s name go forward.
Elizabeth Drew explains:
Hearings could also expose the emptiness of their charges and put on display Hagel’s considerable array of supporters. That such substantial Senate figures as Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Jack Reed, also a major figure on defense issues, have announced that they strongly support Hagel has gone almost without notice.
In addition to a senate committee and full senate vote which Hagel would very likely win, the neocon driving this narrative would not want to have to admit to the American public just how much support Hagel has in what Drew describes as “a much larger and more peace-oriented segment of pro-Israel opinion [which] strongly supports Hagel’s nomination.”‘
These organizations do not assume that particular policies of the Israeli government of the day are necessarily in Israel’s interests.
Hagel has had quite friendly relations with J Street, founded a few years ago to try to offset AIPAC’S influence, and with the Israel Policy Forum, and has given keynote speeches to both organizations.
A wide swath of former national security officials also support Hagel’s nomination as Defense Secretary, including Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, as well as most of the former US ambassadors to Israel. Hagel also holds the highly prestigious position of co-chair of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Committee.
President Obama made Hagel co-chair of that Intelligence Advisory Committee. To fail to nominate him now as defense secretary would be a sign that the President listens more to the neocon narrative feeders than he does to knowledgeable peace-oriented Jewish groups and the established foreign policy leadership community.
The President must make his decision soon. Before he does, he would benefit from considering how the current narrative looks to veteran Jewish journalist James Besser, Washington correspondent for The Jewish Week from 1987 to 2011.
In a New York Times column, December 27, Besser looked back over his years in Washington:
Fifteen years ago, Mr. Hagel — whose sins include advocating dialogue to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions and suggesting that many on Capitol Hill are afraid of the “Jewish lobby” — would have been deemed someone Israel’s supporters in Washington could work with.
Today mainstream Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, are either silent about the mounting controversy or offering cautious support for those who want to kill Mr. Hagel’s nomination. They have been driven into silence and submission by a radical fringe that in no way represents the American Jewish mainstream.
Groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were created to foster strong American-Israeli ties and to promote the idea that a vibrant, democratic Israel is a critical American ally in an undemocratic region — a job they have done remarkably well in recent years.
But as the debate over the best route to peace for the Jewish state has become more bitterly polarized, groups like Aipac, the A.D.L. and the A.J.C. have undercut and obscured that message by refusing to distance themselves from extremists.
Intimidated by pro-settler zealots, right-wing donors and those who liken the slightest criticism of Israeli policy to Israel-bashing (or even anti-Semitism), pro-Israel leaders are increasingly allowing the fringes of their movement to set the pro-Israel agenda in Washington.
President Obama’s choice would appear to be simple, go with his initial preference and nominate Hagel, or allow the neocon narrative to prevail.
It is not an exaggeration to see this one appointment as one that will define who will run the Obama White House for the next four years.”
My apologies. This piece by James Wall was lengthy, but so well stated that I thought that it should be included to augment the already compelling narrative by Jim Rutenberg as to the power of the neoconservatives and their Congreesional allies who have had the power to dictate the course of American history – and still do.
When will our foreign policy be liberated to truly serve our nation, its people, and our ideal – only when the UNAMERICANS are dislodged from their province of influence in OUR government.
For further enlightenment on the neo-conservative question see “What I Told the Chinese” by Stephen Walt in January 18 foreign policy journal.