As I expected, President Obama nominated ex-Senator Chuck Hagel today as Secretary of Defense and John Brennan to head the CIA. Both nominations tell us something interesting about this president and about the future.
I pretty much figured out that Hagel would get the nod once the White House put the word out to the usual suspects to start pushing him after his abysmal record on Israel and on Iran came to light.It was especially a giveaway when they enlisted Obama surrogates with Jewish names like Tom Friedman and Jeffrey Goldberg.
I would be very surprised if Hagel didn't get confirmed by the Senate, barring something unusual happening. The body has 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and 2 left leaning independents who mostly caucus with the Democrats, as well as a potential tie breaking vote in Vice President Biden. I doubt that President Obama didn't discreetly have his own caucus polled before he put Hagel up for nomination.
Hagel would have to lose at least 6 Democrat votes to be denied confirmation, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Administration gave behind-the-scenes permission to Senate Democrats in states with large Jewish populations like like Chuck Schumer (D-NY) or Ben Cardin (D-MD) to choose to vote no if there's enough of a margin to get Hagel across the finish line without them.
There's no question about Hagel's consistently pro-Iran and anti-Israel stance. He was a reliable anti-Israel vote during his entire senate tenure, becoming one of the handful of senators refusing even to sign on to resolutions that were essentially just measures of support for an ally.
At the same time, his positions on Iran make one almost think he should have registered as a foreign lobbyist at some point.He's been a consistent opponent of even President Obama's relatively mild sanctions, no matter what he says now. He favors direct US negotiations with Hamas and Hezbollah, and was one of only 12 Senators who refused to lobby the EU asking them to declare Iranian proxy Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
In fact, Hagel has long been an advocate of taking Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah off the State Department's list of terrorist groups, and while he was a sitting senator Hagel voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.And remember, as Senator Hagel starts burnishing his veteran's credentials, that until 9/11 Hezbollah killed more U.S. servicemen than any other terrorist group. And that the Revolutionary Guard has the blood of American soldiers on its hands as well.
Just as a coincidence, Hagel also sits on the board of Deutsche Bank, which is now being investigated by U.S. authorities for violations of the same Iran sanctions Hagel voted against when he was in Congress.
Even worse is the message this nomination sends to Iran.They now realize that President Obama was not telling the truth about not allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and has no interest whatsoever in stopping them. They have a green light.
Is Hagel an anti-Semite? A number of his former Jewish constituents in Nebraska seem to think so. Many of them recall him as hostile and unfriendly not just on Israel but towards the community in general:
The flavor of the accounts is given in a headline in one Jewish website: “Nebraska Jews Recall Senator Chuck Hagel as ‘Unfriendly’ and ‘Unmovable’ on Israel, ‘Didn’t Give a Damn About the Jewish Community.’” The former editor of the Omaha Jewish Press recalled that “Hagel was the only one we have had in Nebraska, who basically showed the Jewish community that he didn’t give a damn about the Jewish community or any of our concerns.” Another community leader commented that “During his last year in office, we knew he was not going to run again, he never returned any of our calls.”
It's also a matter of record that in 1999, when the American Jewish Committee asked members of the U.S. Senate to sign an advertisement condemning anti-Semitism in Russia the AJC subsequently ran in the New York Times during Russian President Boris Yeltsin's U.S. visit, the only Senator who refused to sign was yes, Chuck Hagel.
More troubling is Hagel's tendency to conflate 'Jews' and Israel. Aside from his quaint belief that the 'Jewish Lobby' runs DC, ( as quoted by author Aaron David Miller's 2008 book "The Too Much Promised Land"), there's also a disturbing incident I wrote about previously, Hagel's campaign to shut down the Haifa USO facility when he was president and CEO of the World USO from 1987 to 1990:
“He said to me, ‘Let the Jews pay for it’,” said Marsha Halteman, director for military and law enforcement programs at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which led the battle to keep USO Haifa operational.
Hagel’s campaign to close the storied USO port struck many observers, including the U.S. Navy and congressional leaders, as misguided. Those same critics argue today that Hagel’s animosity toward the Jewish state leaves him unsuited to be the nation’s next defense secretary.
“He essentially told us that if we wanted to keep the USO [in Haifa] open—and when I say ‘we’, he meant ‘the Jews’—he said the Jews could pay for it,” said Halteman, who recalled being taken aback by the comment.
Again, note that Hagel never said something like 'maybe we can seek outside funds to keep it open' or talked about shutting down other USOs by telling, say, Italian Americans to pay for the USO in Palermo or Naples if they wanted to keep it open. He made a point of demanding it be shut down unless the Jews paid for it.
Yet, with all that, I'm not particularly interested in labeling him an anti-Semite,although it's worth looking at how virtually every anti-Semite and Israel hater in in public life has lined up solidly behind him. Andrew Sullivan and Pat Buchanan, for instance, are absolutely ga ga over the president's pick and so are the kameraden over at Stormfront. If Hagel isn't actually a Jew hater, he apparently likes how he looks in the uniform, if you take my meaning. I fully expect him to make the same sort of pro forma vague remarks about 'commitment to Israel's security' you'd expect in this situation, but let's just say the man's entire history belies anything he says during his Senate hearings.
Odd, isn't it how many of President Obama's present and former close associates have a similar Israel or Jewish problem? If you look at the president's other close associates over the years like Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres, Bernadine Dohrn, Louis Farrakhan, Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said and a host of others, Hagel fits right in, and he and the president are said to be quite close personally.
One can only imagine what might be said about a prominent white politician with long time close associations with David Duke, Tom Metzger, Barry Mills, or Don Black, but the media isn't going to go there. Jew hatred - ooops sorry, 'anti-Zionism' - is fashionable in a lot of circles nowadays. And it is a mainstream opinion in a significant part of the Democrat party.
Another point I don't expect to be raised during Hagel's hearing but should be is his craven behavior on Iraq. After voting for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when it was easy, he later had a change of heart and began doing his best to sabotage our war effort. Anyone can have a change of heart, and considering the way AfPak and Iraq were run it might even be considered commendable to some degree. But Hagel joined up with Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton and yes, Senator Barack Obama in doing their very best to sabotage the Surge strategy by starving it of funds, doing their best to destroying morale on the home front and publicly maligning and insulting its originator and Iraq'a commander, General Petraeus while it was underway and our troops were under fire.
The Surge successfully accomplished what it was meant to accomplish, to allow America to make a more or less graceful withdrawal from Iraq. But the games played in DC by people like Senator Hagel made it just that more difficult, and it was frankly despicable behavior. I'd expect that sort of thing from Harry Reid, but not from someone who makes a point of letting us know he's seen combat. Politics did not stop at the water's edge with these people, and our troops suffered because of it.
So what does President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel tell us about the president, and about what we can expect in the future?
Along with President Obama's new pick for the CIA, John Brennan, Hagel is quite outspoken about America normalizing its relationship with Hamas and Hezbollah.The prsiddnt and both men all agree, to put it bluntly, that the way to end any conflicts between America and Islam is to forge closer ties with the emerging Muslim Brotherhood governments, withdraw from the region, be careful not to 'offend' Islam here at home and to distance ourselves from Israel.Or in other words, let's give them the Jews and they'll go away.Brennan once famously referred to Jerusalem as 'al-Kuds' its Arab name and is a vociferous and out spoken advocate of treating Islamist terrorism as a crime problem. He even supported mirandizing the Underwear Bomber, after which we stopped getting information out of him, of course. That should give you a pretty good idea where Brennan's coming from.
History has proven what a fallacy this sort of policy is many times before, but that pretty much is their position - and this president's- in a nutshell.
Hagel is also an outspoken foe of military spending, so you can expect him to continue Leon Panetta's work in hollowing out our military to provide more revenue for the president's pet domestic projects.
I've said for some time that President Obama is not at all serious about preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, or at least not having America do it.It may very well be that the president fully intends for the Israelis to do it themselves and take the onus..after which he can use Israel's 'aggression' to push for a dictated settlement to the Arab Israeli conflict and for sanctions against the Jewish State. In any event,expect a much more adversarial relationship with Israel, even to the point of our terminating joint weapons projects that actually benefit the United States or refusing to sell arms to them any more.
The way to squeeze and pressure Israel is directly through the Department of Defense simply holding up any shipments of arms and spare parts at a crucial moment. President Obama did it for the first six months of his administration in 2009 by executive order, and with Hagel's emnity towards the Jewish State, he can be counted by the president to be an enthusiastic backer of such policies.
The Israelis will no doubt cope, having been through this before, but our disengaging from the Middle East will come back to haunt us.
President Obama's ideal is to turn America into a European style socialist state. But he apparently hasn't noticed the financial turmoil going on in Europe these days as the system there collapses or the fact that the only reason the Euro Socialist states have lasted this long is because the U.S. allowed them to farm out their national defense to America.
There's no one waiting in the wings to take over the job of defending America.