Sunday, January 13, 2013

Old Foes Lead Charge Against Chuck Hagel

I noted earlier that "The Hagel nomination is the epic battle ground for the competing visions of U.S. foreign and national security policy for the next four years and beyond. And, well, perhaps some folks at NYT are reading my blog.

See, "Hawks on Iraq Prepare for War Again, Against Hagel":

Chuck Hagel
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, who have “sat in jungles or foxholes and watched their friends get their heads blown off.”

Those Republicans 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.”

Mr. Kristol said he and other like-minded hawks 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 against Iran 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 into blindly supporting Israeli positions.

“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.
Hagel voted for the 2002 Iraq resolution authorizing U.S. military force. He later became an outspoken opponent of the war and opposed the surge in 2007 that essentially won the war. That's the Democrat-style stab in the back I've long highlighted as the most despicable sort of villainy in foreign policy. Hagel served has country admirable Vietnam, but he besmirched his record with his Iraq waffling, and that's put him in league with other current foreign policy creeps who will be a disaster for U.S. foreign policy. He's said to be pro-appeasement on Iran as well, although I don't have the links right now on that. I get so fired up about the left's Iraq treason that that really does it for me in and of itself.

More at the New York Times.

PHOTO: "Former Senator Hagel meeting with, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, and former Virginia Senator John Warner," via Wikimedia Commons.