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Is Obama REALLY Going to Nominate Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary?

2:22 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Chuck Hagel

According to reports beginning on Thursday, Obama is considering nominating former GOP Nebraska Senator, Chuck Hagel, for Secretary of Defense:

After a high-stakes game of musical chairs on Thursday, the stage could be set for Chuck Hagel to take over the Pentagon.

A Hagel move into the Obama administration was first signaled by a White House leak that he’d been fully vetted and reached the top of President Barack Obama’s short-list to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Hagel is serving as co-chairman of The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, and is chairman of the neo-liberal Atlantic Council, among other duties and activities. I perceive him as too realistic about policy toward Iran and Israel to make it through the nomination process, should the so-called “Israel Lobby” stand against him.

The first sign that this non-existent lobby might be concerned about a Hagel nomination surfaced Thursday evening, at the White House Hanukkah Party:

On Thursday night, hundreds of American Jewish leaders visited the White House to celebrate Hanukkah, but many also came with a less celebratory agenda: They were there to deliver a warning to President Barack Obama about the potential nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel.

The buzz around the former Republican senator from Nebraska — seen as a top contender to lead the Department of Defense — has Israel supporters worried. Hagel has been a frequent target for Jewish Democratic and Republican groups for more than a decade, even as he is close to Obama, having been a supporter in 2008 and an appointee to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

“He was one of these worst senators in his party in memory when it comes to Israel,” said one Jewish Democratic operative. “It’s a terrible idea.”

By Friday, friends of the imaginary “Israel Lobby” were openly characterizing Hagel in the most unflattering terms.  Some had the courage to attach their names to their statements.  This one did not, probably because it was so over-the-top (emphases added):

Some Jews and supporters of Israel voiced major concerns about the possible nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Defense Department, taking to Twitter and the blogosphere this week to slam the Nebraska Republican.

“Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite,” a senior Republican Senate aide told The Weekly Standard. The aide continued, “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”

Whether or not the totally-fucking-made-up “Israel Lobby” is the “us” the anonymous threatener means is up to you.

Helping fan the flames Friday was Stephen Walt, co-author of a book the above staffer no doubt places in the fiction category, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.  Walt praised Hagel as a possible choice:

So the Beltway world is a-twitter (literally) with the rumor that President Obama will nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) to be the next secretary of defense. This is a smart move that will gladden the hearts of sensible centrists, because Hagel is a principled, intelligent and patriotic American who believes that U.S. foreign and defense policy should serve the national interest.

The reaction to the endorsement of “the worst kind of anti-Semite” by the author of the 21st century version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was met by heavy, but totally unorganized resistance by spontaneous objection from supporters of the Greatest Democracy in the Middle East.  Here’s Front Page‘s Daniel Greenfield (emphasis added):

[T]here are behind the scenes issues and screwing a constituency does not make for good feelings.

The last time this happened was over Chas Freeman Jr, currently doing interviews with Russian propaganda channels about the evils of Israel. Hagel isn’t as terrible a candidate as Freeman, who took money from China and Saudi Arabia, and suggested that China didn’t go far enough in Tienanmen Square, but he’s bad enough.

And when your loudest endorsement for Defense Secretary comes from Stephen Walt, it’s not exactly a good sign for your prospects.

And here’s from the Republican Jewish Coalition’s twitter feed:

Chuck Hagel gets a vote of confidence from the author of the infamous “Israel Lobby” book … cc: @SenatorCardin

Although some anti-Semitic Israel haters have claimed in the past that the RJC is part of the hysterically imagined “Israel Lobby,” a check of their series of tweets on Hagel clearly show this is not the case:

Obama’s Top Jewish Democrat Opposes selection of anti-Israel Chuck Hagel. Calls Hagel “concerning” to Jews 

 Retweeted by RJC National


RJC #News release: Hagel Nomination Would Be “Slap in the Face” for Pro- #Israel Americans … #jcot #tcot

ICYMI: Likely Sec of Defense Chuck Hagel is paid to advice a bank under investigation for violating Iran sanctions 

 Retweeted by RJC National


A handy checklist for the rumored Chuck Hagel appointment.: 

 Retweeted by RJC National


How would Secretary Hagel deal with Iran? He shares some thoughts here: … (Hint: “the Brazilian-Turkish point”)

That’s just a sampling from their feed, which is spontaneously continuing to run one tweet after another about this possible nomination.  The blog Mondoweiss, is keeping up with pro- and anti-Hagel developments, which will probably deepen over the weekend.  From The War Over Hagel is On:

The war over Chuck Hagel’s possible appointment to be Secretary of Defense has begun in earnest, but right now at the fringe: leading the attack are neoconservatives at the Weekly Standard and the Republican Jewish Coalition who surely hope to nip this idea in the bud lest a Republican who has been openly critical of Israel gets a top policy job.

Following an earlier anonymous threat he published from an alleged congressional staffer to paint Hagel as an “anti-Semite,” neoconservative godfather Bill Kristol has published “a fact sheet circulating widely on Capitol Hill” (who knows what that means?) that seeks to portray Chuck Hagel as an Israel-hater who would appease Iran. Some of the fact sheet’s assertions will please those who seek a balanced American policy in the Middle East.

The article’s comments cite more links to many articles and blog posts and tweets that are coming in against Hagel from people who have nothing to do with the purported “Israel Lobby.”

So, the question begs asking, “Will Obama actually nominate this guy?”

I seriously doubt it.  My wife, mom and I (we’re visiting my 94-year-old mom in Seattle for the Holidays) discussed this over coffee this morning.  They feel that Obama may be about to break from his habit of throwing somebody out there – Elizabeth Warren or Susan Rice, for instance – as bait, only to walk away from them, and nominate somebody else for the open position.

I’m not so sure.  I think Hagel is merely more chum, thrown off the stern of the FV Obama.

Totally spontaneously.

(semi-snark tag duly attached)

Photo by Nestlé under Creative Commons license.

Sen. Leahy Preparing Legislation to Strip Funding from IDF Units Suspected of Human Rights Violations

10:23 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

"Sen. Patrick Leahy"

"Sen. Patrick Leahy" by wunderlich on flickr

The Senate has restricted U.S. military aid in the past to countries implicated in serious human rights violations. Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan have had military funding withheld when evidence surfaced of war crimes or endemic rights violations.

Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy has been working on possible legislation to target three Israeli units for a similar cutoff: Shayetet 13, the naval commando unit that killed eight Turks and an American on the Mavi Marmara, the undercover Duvdevan unit, and the Shaldag unit of the air force.

Sen. Leahy has been considering this move since early summer, but the news broke today, with a story in Haaretz:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a long-time friend of Leahy’s, met with him in Washington two weeks ago to try to persuade him to withdraw the initiative.

According to a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem, Leahy began promoting the legislation in recent months after he was approached by voters in his home state of Vermont.

A few months ago, a group of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a rally across from Leahy’s office, demanding that he denounce the killing by Shayetet 13 commandos of nine Turkish activists who were part of the flotilla to Gaza last May.

Leahy, who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee’s sub-committee on foreign operations, was the principle sponsor of a 1997 bill prohibiting the United States from providing military assistance or funding to foreign military units suspected of human rights abuses or war crimes. The law also stipulates that the U.S. Defense Department screen foreign officers and soldiers who come to the United States for training for this purpose.

Leahy wants the new clause to become a part of the U.S. foreign assistance legislation for 2012, placing restrictions on military assistance to Israel, particularly to those three units.

Leahy says these units are responsible for harming innocent Palestinian civilians and that no system of investigation is in place to ensure that their members are not committing human rights violations. According to Leahy’s proposal, U.S. military assistance to Israel would be subject to the same restrictions that apply to countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan.

Apparently, Leahy let the Israeli government know early on that he was contemplating applying the same standards to the IDF that we assign to the other three countries to which we give such aid. Read the rest of this entry →

Rachel Corrie – Six Years Later

12:11 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Six years ago today – four days before the U.S. began the present Iraq War, an American college student named Rachel Corrie was killed defending Palestinian rights in Gaza. The U.S. press vaguely noticed. Last Friday, a young American named Tristan Anderson was severely injured defending Palestinian rights in the West Bank. The U.S. press vaguely noticed.

Yet, much has changed in those six years.

The September 2003 issue of Mother Jones Magazine carried an article about Rachel Corrie. It was written by Joshua Hammer, at that time, Newsweek Magazine’s Jerusalem correspondent. The article, titled The Death of Rachel Corrie, contained a header which read:

Martyr, idiot, dedicated, deluded. Why did this American college student crushed by an Israeli bulldozer put her life on the line? And did it matter?

The article tediously explained why it did not matter, concluding:

Corrie herself has faded into obscurity, a subject of debate in internet chat rooms and practically nowhere else.

Hammer’s article and its not-so-subtly veiled Zionist premises, were refuted at Counterpunch by Phan Nguyen. His article, Specious Journalism in Defense of Killers, totally debunked Hammer’s hit-job, showing how Hammer had plagiarized the work of bloggers with whom he had corresponded. Read the rest of this entry →