Yesterday after much Republican grandstanding, chest thumping and generally wasting everyone's time, Former Senator Chuck Hagel was voted through the Senate as Secretary of Defense. Immediately the fringe blogosphere went nuts.
We saw commentary from the fringe right like this:
And now, due to American Jewish progressive-left ideological blindness, we have the first openly anti-Semitic Secretary of Defense in modern times; a man who favors Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah over the Jews in the Middle East.
or like this:
Hagel is a whore for sale to the highest Arab and Persian bidder. Always has been. He's a narcissist who'd rather be hated than ignored. And of course he's that perfect mix of stupid leftist progressive and right wing Pat Buchanan racist.
and from the Fringe Left we get this:
Hagel now stands in the place of George Marshall, except that where Truman's Secretary of State warned of fanaticism, now fanaticism has become internal to the US government as well as spreading over the Middle Eastern zones of the empire. Obama, freed from Truman's burden of facing election, is also free to settle scores, including with his nemesis, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who was dumb enough to have blatantly favored Mitt Romney for President-or was he rewarding the Republican for reaching new depths of servility when Romney pledged that on any matter involving Israel, he would phone Netanyahu and do whatever the PM told him to?
Now, personally I am not a big fan of Chuck Hagel, in this article, I explained that in my opinion Chuck Hagel won't really affect anything with regards to Israel or the Jewish People. My objection to Hagel comes from the fact that the President felt he needed to push a Conservative Republican into a fairly high level post when there were plenty of liberal Democrats (Joe Sestak, Jim Webb, Bob Kerrey, Wesley Clark, Michele Flournoy, to name a few) that were well qualified. As a Democrat, I didn't vote to see a person who had complained about the "Jewish Lobby" or who had made very problematic statements regarding the LGBT community, or who had an overall extremely conservative voting record, placed into high office in a Democratic Presidency.
The fact of the matter (to be blunt) is that the fringes on both sides will be very disappointed. Hagel is not going to commence the bombing of Israel today, tomorrow, or any other day. U.S. policy towards Israel is what it is, and this President has committed us in both words and action to higher levels of security coordination with Israel than ever before. Whether he wants to or not, (and frankly I don't think he cares), Hagel is not going to, and doesn't have the power to change that. That is a policy decision made by the President. The Secretary of Defense doesn't get to make that policy. All he (or she) would get to do is carry out the orders of the President.
If one looks at Hagels record with regards to voting on issues concerning Israel, Hagel's record is certainly not indicative that he will be either the masked avenger on the Jews that the Hard Left wants, or that he will be ready to start shipping arms to Hamas next week like the Lunatic Right Fringe wants. In fact Hagel's voting record on Israel is pretty much standard fare for most American politicians.
Here are the actual facts regarding Sen. Hagels voting record Some of which include:
* As a United States Senator, Chuck Hagel voted time and time again to provide $37.8 billion dollars of military and security assistance for Israel.
* Hagel cosponsored resolutions with Sen. Dianne Feinstein including "commitment[s] to a true and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of two states, living side by side in peace and security and with recognized borders" and calls on "Hamas... to recognize the State of Israel's right to exist."
* Chuck Hagel voted in favor of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 19984, the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 20005, and the Iran Freedom Support Act of 20066. He is skeptical of unilateral sanctions, but supports multilateral sanctions which we have seen, in concert with allies, put tremendeous pressure on Iran
But... that doesn't really matter. The overriding fact is that the Secretary of Defense simply does not make policy regarding our alliances or support for foreign nations or groups. That is the White House in conjunction with State. Hagel as Sec. Def. has to do what Pres. Obama tells him to do, and any policy decisions have to clear the White House. Simple fact.
Frankly, (and again I don't particularly support the choice of Hagel not that it matters now but....) is that Hagel was brought in to do two things and two things only. The first is to stand up for U.S. veterans and their rights. Hagel has done a good job of that throughout his career. The second is that the Pentagon is going to be and frankly needs to be cut to help with budget concerns. Hagel is a reasonable choice for that job. Hagel is not the Secretary of Defense for Israel, nor is he the Sec. Def. for only the Jewish People. Some people really need to understand that.Hagel IS the Sec. Def. of all American People and as such he is responsible to the entire nation, not just one part of it.
OH and is Hagel the "worstest, most ebilz, Sec. of State ever for Israel", I think not.
How about Harry S. Truman's Sec. Def. James Forrestal who urged President to Truman to reject Partition in 1947 because it might "infuriate" the Arabs and then saying that Jews were too influential in pressing the American Gov't. Remind me again how that stopped the U.S. from voting for Partition.
Or what about Casper Weinberger of President Reagan's admin. You know, the REPUBLICAN administration where the President actually went to present honors on German SS unit graves, that administration. Here is a little something about Weinberger:
In contrast to other members of the Reagan cabinet known for their sympathy toward the Jewish state, including Secretary of State George Shultz and the president himself, Weinberger developed a reputation not only for opposing Israel's interests directly but for seeking to prevent any action, including counter-terrorist operations, that might upset Arab allies of the United States (vb1 emphasis). Until the Iran-Contra scandal broke in 1986, Weinberger was perhaps best known for orchestrating the sale of AWACS jets - the highly advanced airborne surveillance, command, and control system built by Boeing - to Saudi Arabia. Opposed by Israel and much of the American Jewish community, the Saudi AWACS deal generated enormous controversy.
So, I am not sure how we can really take the fringe seriously on either side as to their objections regarding Hagel.
Either way, he was not my pick but now that he is in office, I say we judge him by what he actually does, NOT by what we think he may or may not do. Either way, the fanatics are going to be bummed out because their shrill cries (in support of or against) that he will be bombing Israel or sending gift baskets to open up our friendship with Hamas and Hizbollah simply won't come true and really have no basis in fact. As I said previously, Hagel's job is to watch over the U.S. Military in time when we will be paring it down and have a great deal of soldiers coming home from war.
How he does that will tell us what kind of American Secretary of Defense he will be.