Since when is the left embracing Chuck Hagel, a nationalist, establishment figure?

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 76 Comments
Sen. Hagel
Chuck Hagel (Photo: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES)

The neoconservative smear campaign against former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel has caused a crop of liberals and progressives to jump to his defense. But others further on the left have questioned whether those interested in a new U.S. policy towards the Middle East should be looking to Hagel to deliver one. 

This site (myself included) has joined with a host of establishment figures and other progressives to defend Hagel from the smear peddlers, who have taken to labeling Hagel as an “anti-Semite” because of his frank talk about the Israel lobby. But we should take a look at what two other sharp analysts–Max Ajl and Charles Davis–have written on Hagel. They make important contributions to the debate, with their articles serving as a reminder that the Hagel nomination is more symbolic than anything and that U.S. policy is not going to change radically just because a more heterodox Defense Secretary is in. It’ll take a lot more than that. 

First, here’s Davis writing on his blog:

It would be one thing to simply point this out; that yes, some of the charges against Hagel can politely be called “silly.” One can disagree about the wisdom of Israeli wars, for instance, without being a raging anti-Semite, and indeed much of the Israeli establishment would privately concede their 2006 war was a bust. And with politicians talking of slashing Social Security, you damned well better believe it’s not a gaffe to say maybe we ought to take a quick look at where half the average American’s income tax goes: the military. Such a defense might have some value.

Unfortunately, that’s not what the pro-Hagel campaign is doing. Instead, they’re billing the fight over Hagel’s nomination as a defining battle of Obama’s second term. If Hagel wins, the argument goes, AIPAC loses, opening up the foreign policy debate in Washington and increasing the possibility of peace in our time. If his nomination goes down, however, that reinforces the idea that the hawkish foreign policy consensus in Washington shall not be challenged and that even the mildest criticisms of Israel cannot be tolerated. Some even suggest that who administers the Defense Department could decide if there’s a war with Iran or not, perhaps forgetting the chain of command.

Indeed, most of Hagel’s defenders aren’t defending his occasionally heterodox views on Israel and unilateral sanctions (he’s cool with the multilateral, 500,000-dead-children-in-Iraq kind), but rather trumpeting his commitment to orthodoxy. The Center for American Progress, for instance, has released a dossier detailing “Chuck Hagel’s Pro-Israel Record,” noting his oft-stated verbal and legislative commitment to the “special relationship.” Some of his former staffers have also issued a fact sheet showing that all of Hagel’s alleged heretical views are well within the hawkish mainstream.

Ajl, a contributing editor at the excellent leftist magazine Jacobin, has a longer piece up at Jadaliyya titled “Why Chuck Hagel Is Irrelevant.” He writes:

The latest non-scandal scandalizing the American commentariat is whether Barack Obama will be able to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his new Secretary of Defense. The narrative is that the Zionist lobby is eager to scuttle Hagel’s nomination because he has uttered one too many words “critical” of Israel, and displayed too many sentiments suspected of being contrary to the agenda of the lobby: namely, destroying Iran.

The narrative is true enough.

That the lobby does not want Hagel is clear, and his nomination would be a defeat for the lobby’s right wing.

Still, it is barely a scandal, except in the sense that it is scandalous how narrow the parameters of debate are in this country such that leftists think that an aggressive nationalist like Hagel merits their defense.

There are a few reasons for that.

First, Hagel’s policy prescriptions for dealing with Iran are, in fact, American policy. US policymakers have been huffing and puffing about a US attack on Iran for over a decade – without producing that attack. They are not the only ones. While the Israeli political class itinerantly threatens Iran, its defense intelligentsia warns against it. So does the Pentagon and the US State Department. At the military level, there is no direct war on Iran, and the absence of a military attack against Iran is not a policy secured by the dominance of responsible and beleaguered technocrats fending off the neocons’ pressure.

It is simply the consensual policy amongst most of the Washington elite.

The second element of American policy against Iran is clear, and it is one that Hagel himself has made clear: the slow-motion erosion of the Iranian economy and society. And that policy is going ahead fine. As Hagel has observed, “We do have some rather significant evidence that sanctions are working.”

And after going through the true sources of the U.S.-Iran conflict, Ajl pours cold water on the notion that Hagel’s willingness to talk to Hamas is a radical departure that the left should celebrate:

Still others defend the Hagel nomination through a fixation on his openness to discussions with Hamas. What this perspective misses is that a push for dialogue with Hamas has been the position of “liberal” Beltway think-tanks for some time. It is premised on the assumption that through dialogue, the US will be able to tame, contain, and turn Hamas, either making it serve a similar function as the Egyptian or Syrian Muslim Brotherhoods, enfolded into a Gulf-supported Sunni crescent, or pushing it into “national reconciliation” with Fateh.

Little good will come of this nomination.

And without question, sanctions and occupation will continue apace.

This makes it unfortunate that the campaign to defend Hagel has gathered support not merely from realist analysts like [Steve] Walt, but by many of a more progressive bent, some of whom are happy that the J Street lobby group – nearly indistinguishable from AIPAC – is defending Hagel’s candidacy.

Indeed, the support of J Street ought to be a red flare clarifying Hagel’s projected role.

Instead, it has somehow convinced some that he will tamp down the imperial role in the region, or that his appointment will move US foreign policy to the left. That seems unlikely, if not delusory. The question is minute divergences of strategy within a broader vision of domination of the region – a reflection of inter-elite bickering over the best way to cripple Iran and impose surrender terms on the Palestinian people.

The potential nomination of Hagel is meaningful only if one naturalizes the social and political landscape and assumes that the best which can be hoped for is an ever-so-slightly gentler empire.

And so the hubbub over Hagel is a squabble which tells us only a little about internal disagreements within foreign policy circles, but much about the widespread tendency not merely to confuse the spectacle of politics for politics itself, but also to foreclose entirely the possibility of meaningful change.

76 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    December 28, 2012, 10:19 am

    Nicely done.

  2. American
    December 28, 2012, 10:51 am

    “Indeed, most of Hagel’s defenders aren’t defending his occasionally heterodox views on Israel and unilateral sanctions (he’s cool with the multilateral, 500,000-dead-children-in-Iraq kind),”

    Not accurate.

    link to thecable.foreignpolicy.com

    That may set up the New Jersey lawmaker (Menendz) for a clash with Hagel, who as a senator was a rare GOP voice arguing against increased sanctions on Iran. In 2008, Hagel was blamed for blocking an Iran sanctions bill that Senate Democrats supported. As early as 2001, Hagel said that sanctions on Iran and Libya were ineffective. He was one of only two senators that year to vote against renewal of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, along with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN).”

    What Hagel did do was suggest that any sanctions be put before the UN to target nuclear material specifically.

  3. Annie Robbins
    December 28, 2012, 11:06 am

    Since the end of the Cold War, Israel has radicalized US Middle East policy. Its US lobby was instrumental in the first Gulf War, the “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq, provoking the 9/11 attacks, the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, the relentless hostility toward Iran, the periodic devastation of Lebanon, and the ongoing genocide of Palestine. The 2003 Iraq invasion was especially critical, as it put the Gulf states on the warpath against the “Shia axis” of Hizbollah-Alawite Syria-Iran, with results visible in Syria today. Israel has turned the Middle East into the “eastern front” of the US empires…..

    Policymakers opposed to this catastrophe have been driven from power by Israel’s lobby

    i have to agree with your point about max citizenc, but one thing that interests me, and this very well could be generational (youth, it’s what they’ve grown up with). note the use of ‘heterodox’ (davis uses it too):

    But we should take a look at what two other sharp analysts–Max Ajl and Charles Davis–have written on Hagel. They make important contributions to the debate, with their articles serving as a reminder that the Hagel nomination is more symbolic than anything and that U.S. policy is not going to change radically just because a more heterodox Defense Secretary is in. It’ll take a lot more than that.

    there’s a push pull going on between the realists and the neocons. (what you call The split between these “realists” and the “radicals”) hagel is no neocon. this is not a minor matter, it is a crucial matter. the idea that the primary job of US foreign policy is the protection of israel has permeated the mainstream, so thoroughly accomplishing the eradication of the realists they are now considered ‘heterodox’.

    plus, note how davis’s idea, “The logic behind the leftists for Chuck Hagel campaign — sometimes unstated — is not so much that he’s a great guy, but that the people attacking him are even worse.”, completely segues w/the weekly standard:

    link to weeklystandard.com

    “The surprising thing about the slew of supposedly “pro-Hagel” pieces—articles that at first blush would seem to say that Chuck Hagel should be the next secretary of defense—is that none actually make the case for Hagel….No one, I believe, is actually making the argument that Hagel is well qualified to be secretary of defense.

    well this is simply not true.

    we’ve gotten to the pt where defending israel is the ‘orthodoxy’. the entire debate around hagel is israel oriented. a realist view is completely different. so i beg to differ hagel’s nomination is symbolic. bluntly, it’s the difference between realists and neocons. that’s huge.

    But at this stage, this is about much more than just Hagel. The extremist pro-Likud circles opposing Hagel — and whose ideological cohorts in Israel have accused Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey of serving Iran’s interests and even accused President Barack Obama of being an anti-Semite — are seeking to establish a veto on US national security policy. Only policies and personnel that they approve of shall pass. Those who differ from them will be preemptively eliminated through McCarthyite witch-hunts. (And Obama, of course, cannot begin his second term by twice being bullied and humiliated by this crowd.)

    It goes against the fundamental principles of the U.S. constitution — with its emphasis on checking powers — that any single group would have a veto on any policy. But for a group that hasn’t even won a major U.S. election since 2004 to act as if they have a right to veto candidates and polices, begs the need to have the group checked and balanced for the sake of U.S. national security.

    link to huffingtonpost.com

    front page/top story at huffpo this morning. you better believe this is more than symbolic. it’s a game changer.

    • David Green
      December 28, 2012, 11:30 am

      From a critical leftist perspective that is genuinely anti-imperialist, the difference is minimal. Kudos to Davis and Ajl.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 28, 2012, 2:31 pm

        david, Max makes this point:

        Instead, it has somehow convinced some that he will tamp down the imperial role in the region, or that his appointment will move US foreign policy to the left. That seems unlikely, if not delusory.

        if you’ve noticed this and agree with it, could you be so kind as to point us to examples of this ‘convincing’. because i haven’t read it anywhere that i can recall.

        also, thought this might interest you. from muzzlewatch:

        link to archive.feedblitz.com

        Hagel is a Realist who would have been quite comfortable on the foreign policy teams of Dwight Eisenhower or George H.W. Bush. Ironically for liberals and leftists, that conservative-Republican school is often much closer in practice to our foreign policy ideals than so-called liberal Democrats tend to be. But in 2012’s version of conservatism, that stance makes him a dangerous character. This is especially true with regard to the issue of US policy toward Israel, where Hagel, while certainly being far from a peace activist, advocates an interest-based, non-ideological approach.

        And that is really the nub of the issue. Even for many defenders of Hagel’s nomination, the question of what is best for Israel is a central one. It seems obvious that when considering a Cabinet position in the US government, the questions should be confined to what is best for US interests, whatever each individual thinks those interests might be. But in the bizarre world of Washington around this issue, somehow that is not the case.

      • elisehendrick
        December 28, 2012, 5:51 pm

        “It seems obvious that when considering a Cabinet position in the US government, the questions should be confined to what is best for US interests, whatever each individual thinks those interests might be. But in the bizarre world of Washington around this issue, somehow that is not the case.”

        This becomes much less bizarre once we demystify the notion of “US interests”. “Realists” like to claim that there is some “national interest” that is determined by a sort of foreign relations alchemy that only they can safely perform.

        The reality is a bit different. In any state, the “national interest” is the interest of those segments of the society that have the greatest concentrated power. The “US interest” is merely the interest of the US ruling class, both the commercial interests of the petroleum and arms industries and the more general interest in maintaining control over a strategically important region, in which there is only one truly stable base for projecting US power.

        There’s nothing special about “this area”, either. We can see the same principles at work in US policy throughout the world. In Latin America, where US hegemony is the most longstanding, the US has long preferred blood-soaked dictatorships that – coincidentally, we are to believe – provide a favourable “investment climate” for US corporations by maximising profit repatriation and terrorising the workforce into submission to near-slave labour conditions.

        In the Australasian region, the US supported a decades-long genocidal military occupation in East Timor, managed by the Suharto regime the US themselves had installed. Shockingly, there turned out to be substantial petroleum resources in Timorese territory, which the Suharto dictatorship just happened to make available for exploitation by foreign corporations.

        “US interests” are not our interests. They are the interests of the people who own our workplaces and hold our mortgages. It takes an act of wilful ignorance to convince oneself that those interests are anything but directly our own interests and those of working people around the world.

      • Eva Smagacz
        December 29, 2012, 6:13 am

        ““US interests” are not our interests. They are the interests of the people who own our workplaces and hold our mortgages. It takes an act of wilful ignorance to convince oneself that those interests are anything but directly our own interests and those of working people around the world.

        I think the fight for Hagel is the fight for a right of ordinary American citizen to influence (or at least have a damn hard try) the USA policy using English rather than have it decided in Hebrew.

        While I agree with your sentiments entirely, I see no chance of you making headway politically, if politics of your country are decided abroad in a foreign language.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 6:30 am

        “I think the fight for Hagel is the fight for a right of ordinary American citizen to influence (or at least have a damn hard try) the USA policy using English rather than have it decided in Hebrew.

        While I agree with your sentiments entirely, I see no chance of you making headway politically, if politics of your country are decided abroad in a foreign language.”

        If that is the fight, then it was long since won, since it was never a fight to begin with. The problem is that it is an irrelevant one. While it is certainly convenient for white supremacists in the US to claim that all of US criminality is reducible to some “foreign lobby”, the reality is that these criminal policies are made right here, by red-blooded, whitebread American capitalists, who happen to make a great deal of money off of them.

      • Ellen
        December 29, 2012, 7:29 am

        Eva, you’ve touched on something important and disturbing. That is, once US interests are mixed or confused with foreign nationalists interests, it is over for the the U.S.A. We may have reached that point. (Just think how dysfunctional and corrupted the political process has become in the US.) One thing for sure, the US has rapidly lost credibility and influence due to it’s marriage with the Zionist enterprise. What is worth the price of that?

        elisehendrick, makes correct arguments — that the interests of earnings, powerful class steer public and economic policy. Sometimes more than others, but it is not that simplistic, and not only…..

        The Zionist project is just one example of economic interests of an elite driving policy in the US and in Europe. But unlike US housing policy that feeds the pockets of a few, we haven’t see self correction for a century. The corrupted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac enterprises will not survive as we know them much longer.

        The machine against Hagel is the most recent of many examples of non-US interests contaminating public discourse and policy and politicians.

        For a long and well sourced discussion of this destructive dynamic:

        link to councilforthenationalinterest.org

        And for a wise and honest interview of how it works and destruction it is wreaking onto the US and Israel (but please ignore the inflammatory headline, which has little to do with the essence of the interview):

        link to rt.com

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 7:54 am

        “The Zionist project is just one example of economic interests of an elite driving policy in the US and in Europe. But unlike US housing policy that feeds the pockets of a few, we haven’t see self correction for a century.”

        Actually, it’s been much less than a century since US and European elites took an interest in Zionism as a way of furthering their own imperialist projects. In the case of the US, it goes back more or less to the period between 1967 and 1971.

        Corrections happen because those making the policy realise that those who are meant to benefit from the policy are not in fact benefiting, or are being harmed by it. In the case of US sponsorship of the Zionist regime, there is no need for correction – the policy is doing precisely what it was meant to do.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 11:36 am

        While it is certainly convenient for white supremacists in the US to claim that all of US criminality is reducible to some “foreign lobby”, the reality is that these criminal policies are made right here, by red-blooded, whitebread American capitalists, who happen to make a great deal of money off of them.”….elise

        Hum…so what are you? A militant against white breads? That’s your main complaint about US foreign policy?..that white breads and white supremist are getting rich?

        You sound like a hasbara troll for the Lobby to me.

      • Ellen
        December 29, 2012, 12:29 pm

        elisa, Zionist interests first kicked in big time under President Wilson. Almost exacty 100 years ago, and accelerated under Truman in the late 40s and early 50s as the US Dept. of State was also completely purged of any possible “Arabists,” — as Golda Mier would refer to US foreign service professionals.

        What precisely is the US policy to finance and sponsor the nationalist Zionist project intended to do for the US?

      • W.Jones
        December 29, 2012, 1:22 pm

        Elise,

        I am doubtful about your words:

        “There’s nothing special about “this area”,[the Middle East] either. We can see the same principles at work in US policy throughout the world.

        Some differences I see are that the US in the Mid-East seems to send in troops directly, like in Iraq and Afghanistan, breaks up countries like Syria and Libya into chaotic turmoil, and even backs forces that it claims are those strongest opposed to the US (eg. it backed the taliban in Afghanistan, backs fundamentalists in Libya and Syria, etc).

        But in the rest of the world where the US tries to perform traditional capitalist colonialism, the US indirectly controls the countries through puppet governments, tries to create stable situations where companies can more easily reap profits and exploit, and sets up clearly pro-US forces (think Pinochet and Colombia.) Of course, that’s pretty bad too, but it’s notable to me that the model is different.

        While the model for the Mid-east seems to be to blow their society back to the stone-age and demonize their entire peoples as Muslims – matching the Israelis’ own methods and goals – the exploitive, colonialist model for the rest of the world seems significantly different.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 6:20 pm

        “Some differences I see are that the US in the Mid-East seems to send in troops directly, like in Iraq and Afghanistan, breaks up countries like Syria and Libya into chaotic turmoil, and even backs forces that it claims are those strongest opposed to the US (eg. it backed the taliban in Afghanistan, backs fundamentalists in Libya and Syria, etc).”

        I’m not sure what differences you’re referring to here. Yes, it is true that at this moment, the main area in which the US has occupation forces is the Mid-East and South Asia; however, it is hardly the only one. The US is part of a brutal military occupation of Haiti, and has “boots on the ground” in the Philippines, Uganda, and Colombia. Not too long ago, the US spent 13 years occupying and decimating Indochina, invading Panama to impose a new dictatorship, and, lest we forget, the Reagan administration initially wanted to invade Nicaragua outright before a wave of popular opposition prevented it.

  4. American
    December 28, 2012, 11:17 am

    BTW….defenders and detractors both—don’t try to switch this fight over Hagel from the Zio Mafia to one about over all US policy and imperialism…particularly by using the “left”. The ‘left’, the Dims, have been just as aggressive with their war supporting and sanctions as the rethugs have.

    The central point is— a Hyphen-american Foreign Lobby has told us that the test of a US officials suitability for any office is his loyalty to a foreign country.

    This is a separate fight over the influence of Hyphen Foreign Lobbies that are the ‘incubators ‘ of policy before it even gets put into effect by US conservative or US liberal US foreign policy.
    AND…we really haven’t even seen much difference between them have we?

    • elisehendrick
      December 28, 2012, 5:55 pm

      “BTW….defenders and detractors both—don’t try to switch this fight over Hagel from the Zio Mafia to one about over all US policy and imperialism…particularly by using the “left”. The ‘left’, the Dims, have been just as aggressive with their war supporting and sanctions as the rethugs have.”

      Leaving aside that the Democrats are not, and never have been, the left, the framing here is interesting. We are apparently to believe that an appointment for a position that is crucial in the implementation of US foreign policy should not give rise to a discussion of what that policy actually is.

      I am at a bit of a loss to understand why we are forbidden from bringing up US imperialism in a discussion about who will next be in charge of implementing it.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 10:42 am

        elisehendrick says:
        December 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm

        “I am at a bit of a loss to understand why we are forbidden from bringing up US imperialism in a discussion about who will next be in charge of implementing it>>>>>>>

        Because you’re in the wrong forum for discussing US imperialism and white bread oppressors. You should be at the WW Socialist site or marxist.org for discussing that subject.

      • seanmcbride
        December 29, 2012, 11:15 am

        elisehendrick,

        Your view of the world is too reductionist and simplistic — this is true of all people on the hard left, who are are as psychologically susceptible to ideological fundamentalism as any religious zealot.

        You need to build a model of the world that takes into account all the complex and often irrational or non-rational interactions of:

        1. corporations
        2. ethnic groups
        3. family dynasties
        4. government bureaucracies
        5. industries
        6. nations
        7. organized crime syndicates
        8. regions
        9. religious groups
        10. secret societies

        and entrenched special interests of all kinds.

        All of these groups are often working at cross purposes and are usually bogged down in covert internecine warfare. Noam Chomsky and his disciples don’t have a clue. Babes in the woods.

        If Chuck Hagel didn’t have the potential to tip American foreign policy in significant and fateful directions, the neoconservatives who engineered the Iraq War wouldn’t be in such a state of high hysteria about him.

        There are many varieties of American imperialism, some much more tolerable than others. Imperialism as defined by the neocon (Israel) lobby is radically un-American in terms of basic values and radically in conflict with American material interests.

        The battle between American foreign policy realists and Israel-centric neoconservatives is a matter of grave historical consequence.

      • Ellen
        December 29, 2012, 12:34 pm

        sean, well said!

      • W.Jones
        December 29, 2012, 1:40 pm

        Sean and American,

        Chomsky is actually a Zionist, who says he has a special personal connection to it. He told Israeli TV repeatedly that he supports Israel and that he speaks out about it because he thinks its policies are harmful for it. He admits that all this may affect his views on the IP conflict. It seems it isn’t that Chomsky has an overall “hard left” ideology that ignores lobbies (eg. the Tobacco Lobby or the Oil Lobby), it’s that he is biased on the question.

        Mr. Blankfort, on the other hand, is a very strong leftist. His parents were anti-Zionist Communists subject to the Mcarthyist purges IIRC and he was involved in the anti-Apartheid struggle. Yet he focuses primarily on the Lobby’s role in setting US policy.

        So whether one takes a strong traditional leftist position or not, one can still focus on the Lobby as a central player in US Mid-East policy.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 2:31 pm

        Ditto….good sean.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 5:01 pm

        “If Chuck Hagel didn’t have the potential to tip American foreign policy in significant and fateful directions, the neoconservatives who engineered the Iraq War wouldn’t be in such a state of high hysteria about him.”

        What seanmcbride is missing here is that public, theatrical “high hysteria” around questions that ultimately don’t matter much is a major feature of the US propaganda system in the first place. That’s why Republicans froth at the mouth claiming Obama is a socialist, for example, and why we get these recurrent Epic Battles between the Republicans and the Obama administration over whose version of basically the same policy will be implemented. That’s why we’re meant to believe that all the years of sabre-rattling and nonsensical whinging about the Iranian Peril are actually leading up to something other than what is clearly the actual policy – murderous economic warfare and international isolation.

        It is important, in other words, not to mistake show for substance.

      • seanmcbride
        December 29, 2012, 6:33 pm

        W.Jones,

        When has Noam Chomsky ever mentioned AIPAC, JINSA, WINEP, AJC, ADL, AEI, PNAC, RJC, NJDC, FPI, FDD, ECI, the Conference of Presidents, etc. in his analysis of American Mideast policy?

        Perhaps I missed it. Any pointers?

        I suppose that might be your point: Chomsky is covering for the real power behind Zionism. He is a left gatekeeper for Israel — almost a “liberal Zionist,” despite his strong critiques of Israeli policies. His job is to keep the heat off the Israel lobby and its main driver — the Jewish lobby — primarily the 50+ member organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

        Even one anti-Zionist here — Mooser — would like to put discussion of the Jewish lobby off limits — which is a peculiar position to take. If knowledgeable critiques of and challenges to the Israel lobby in American politics are obstructed and censored, there will not be the slightest chance for Americans to modify the behavior of Israel.

      • W.Jones
        December 29, 2012, 6:40 pm

        Elise,

        You are right that: “public, theatrical “high hysteria” around questions that ultimately don’t matter much is a major feature of the US propaganda system in the first place.”
        But that doesn’t mean those issues don’t matter to the interest groups affected. For example, economic leftists typically consider the debate over gay issues to be a big red herring and campaign tool to swing the rural poor towards Republicans. But that doesn’t mean that the rural poor and the gays themselves who react very strongly don’t consider it to be a important values issue.

        So if neoconservatives react very strongly against Hagel as an anti-Israel candidate, I would agree that his candidacy doesn’t stop America from being a globalist superpower. But it still shows that his candidacy is an important issue for those hysterical neoconservatives who for some unexplainable reason wish to not only globalize, but demonize and bomb Middle Eastern societies back into the stone age.

        Regards.

      • RoHa
        December 29, 2012, 8:17 pm

        “Your view of the world is too reductionist and simplistic — this is true of all people on the hard left, who are are as psychologically susceptible to ideological fundamentalism as any religious zealot.”

        It is also true of people on the hard right.

  5. David Samel
    December 28, 2012, 11:19 am

    Alex, thanks for bringing these points of view to our attention. I had seen Max’s article already. I think there is a huge difference between “celebrating” Hagel as a Defense Sec choice, and defending him against smears and attacks of the lobby. I have seen much more of the latter than the former. The fact is that the lobby has decided to draw a line in the sand, test its power, and that Obama’s choice of Hagel, if it ever happens, will be a resounding defeat for the lobby. It will signify a loss of power and that the lobby is more vulnerable to challenge. In my opinion, it would be a big deal, just as Obama’s cave-in and choice of someone more “acceptable” would be a huge victory and encouragement for some very nasty people. I think there are very big stakes here.

    As to the notion of celebrating Hagel, of course he is not an ideal choice from a progressive point of view. But Dennis Kucinich, despite his imminent unemployment, will not be picked. Is there any chance Hagel will make a positive difference? I think there is that possibility, perhaps reducing the chance of war with Iran, reducing the rate of increase of the defense budget, etc.

    But even if we acknowledge that Hagel is no hero, at best a very small step in the right direction, the lobby furor is a very big issue. This is not a fight over nothing. To call it “merely symbolic” is to ignore the importance of the symbol.

    • elisehendrick
      December 28, 2012, 6:30 pm

      “I think there is that possibility, perhaps reducing the chance of war with Iran, reducing the rate of increase of the defense budget, etc.”

      I’m at a bit of a loss to see how it is possible to further reduce the chance of war against Iran, given that the chance is already infinitesimal at best. This current cycle of threats against Iran has gone on for well over seven years now. Has an invasion actually materialised? Of course not, because the US has a longstanding policy of not invading countries that have any defensive capacity at all, and Iran has enough of a defensive capacity to make an invasion unattractive.

      We’re meant to forget that we’ve been hearing these things for years now, with nary a new element being added to the mix. The US and Israel rattle their sabres, or play their standard good-cop-bad-cop game, and there’s still no war in sight. This is not how the US prepares wars: In the case of Iraq, the invasion began within a few months of the propaganda offensive. In the case of Afghanistan, it was a matter of weeks. The fact that the threats against Iran have gone on for YEARS now should tell us all we need to know about the probability of war against Iran.

      Whilst we talk about the latest US/Israeli threats against Iran, homes are being destroyed in the West Bank, Palestinians are being expelled in occupied East Jerusalem, and preparations are underway for another Israeli attack on Lebanon.

      Annie Robbins derides Max Ajl’s comment that “sanctions are war by other means” by claiming, absurdly, that he is equating murderous sanctions to a full-scale invasion. Since I don’t even Annie Robbins seriously believes that nonsense, I will refrain from explaining why starving a population to death with a blockade is a form of warfare, even if it is not as intensive a form of warfare as a full-scale invasion.

      • David Samel
        December 29, 2012, 9:42 am

        Elise, you don’t seem to address the central point I and others have made – that the Hagel nomination fight is more important because the stakes involve the power of the the Israel lobby than it is because Hagel will be any kind of savior. You pick apart my statement that Hagel might have a slight positive effect by insisting that there is no chance of any positive effect – OK, maybe you’re right, maybe not, but we are not really that far apart on that issue. On the larger question of whether there is great value in dealing the lobby a resounding defeat rather than let them pre-emptively reject a nominee, you say nothing. Do you really think there are no consequences of that fight?

      • W.Jones
        December 29, 2012, 1:57 pm

        Elise,

        You wrote:“I’m at a bit of a loss to see how it is possible to further reduce the chance of war against Iran, given that the chance is already infinitesimal at best.”
        If the chance is currently infinitesimal, but there are forces that want a war and could get more power in an election, then wouldn’t strengthening peace with Iran at the moment reduce the chance of a future war with Iran.

        If you remember back to the end of Bush’s term, people were worried the next target was going to be Iran and the same type of mind-less invasion would be made. McCain was saying he liked the beachboys’ song “Bomb bomb bomb Iran”. If it was a possibility then, wouldn’t it be better now to reduce the chance of that possibility returning?

        I am also doubtful about your statement “the US has a longstanding policy of not invading countries that have any defensive capacity at all, and Iran has enough of a defensive capacity to make an invasion unattractive.” Iraq and Iran fought eachother to a standstill in the 1980′s, so their defenses were at least comparable. Iraq surprised the US with stronger defenses at the outset of the war, and there is still alot of resistance there and in Afghanistan. An invasion is unattractive to many Americans because of the toll it could inflict, but that doesn’t mean everyone with significant power appreciates that.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 4:58 pm

        “Elise, you don’t seem to address the central point I and others have made – that the Hagel nomination fight is more important because the stakes involve the power of the the Israel lobby than it is because Hagel will be any kind of savior”

        I didn’t see why that comment merited any response at all. The supposed power of the Israel lobby (really the PR wing of the oil majors and the arms industry) has already been debunked elsewhere, and I see no reason to rehash the matter here.

        I have said it before and I’ll say it again: When people derail discussions on longstanding, globally consistent US policy preferences by trying to pin the blame on some All-Powerful Lobby, the only winners in the discussion are Israel and the US.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 29, 2012, 5:19 pm

        oh by all means explain to us how israel ‘wins’ when we discuss their lobby. don’t you agree they’re a nightflower that blossoms in the dark?

        it appears to the rest of us it’s you who are diverting. oh, this is quite classic i might add: Israel lobby (really the PR wing of the oil majors and the arms industry)

        lol, do tell.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 29, 2012, 6:09 pm

        Annie Robbins derides Max Ajl’s comment that “sanctions are war by other means” by claiming, absurdly, that he is equating murderous sanctions to a full-scale invasion. Since I don’t even Annie Robbins seriously believes that nonsense

        double punch from ms elise. a tad flawed in your analysis tho as you skipped the segment i italiced link to mondoweiss.net , now repeated in bold below:
        here’s Ajl:

        Instead, it has somehow convinced some that he will tamp down the imperial role in the region, or that his appointment will move US foreign policy to the left. That seems unlikely, if not delusory. The question is minute divergences of strategy within a broader vision of domination of the region – a reflection of inter-elite bickering over the best way to cripple Iran and impose surrender terms on the Palestinian people.

        first off, a pt i’ve made already, (david green declined my invitation to back up max’s claim of “convinced some that he will tamp down the imperial role”) so his wide brush of ‘delusory’ is moot sans the evidence. second, like you (“no difference”) , he speaks of minute divergences of strategy within a broader vision of domination of the region, iow, if the difference between the realist strategy for ” imperial role in the region” via sanctions AND the neocon strategy of the imperial role (war) are merely “minute divergences”, and his supporting link leads to the devastations of the iraq sanctions (while i agree were devastating) which inevitably lead to war, the implication is these sanctions are as concrete, as set in stone, without mutation as sanctions in the past, while they were under the purview of neocon advisors. and we all know that is not necessarily the only outcome of sanctions. at least we know, or should, they are more mutable than the end results of full on war, which is far more difficult and time consuming to reverse the effects of sending a country back decades.

        so this is not nonsense and that is the meaning of “minute divergences of strategy within a broader vision of domination of the region.” any which way ya chew it.

        see how well i was able to achieve communicating sans the ‘delusory’ or ‘absurdly’ crutch? those ad hominem main staples accompanying weak arguments?

        ciao.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 29, 2012, 6:16 pm

        and one more pt, not to belabor the topic. at the p5 negotiations everyone knows the US never even offered to lesson the sanctions regardless of whatever iran agreed to. and that’s what tanked them. the US negotiators went running off to israel before they even came home. there was never any room, before an election, to offer any incentive whatsoever. that, my dear, is no longer the case or doesn’t have to be. this time, after the election, the US presumably has some room to move, away from their neocon handlers. just saying.

      • David Green
        December 29, 2012, 7:12 pm

        “first off, a pt i’ve made already, (david green declined my invitation to back up max’s claim …”

        Annie, I’ll look forward to your extended deliniation of the differences between “realist” and “neocon” policies in the post-Vietnam Era. Clinton/Ross presided over the expansion of Israeli occupation post Oslo. Obama has presided over Gaza 2012, after refusing to comment on Cast Lead after his election in 2008. Meanwhile, drones, Libya, Africom, etc. “Realist” HW invaded Iraq in 1991. Clinton continued sanctions. I don’t see that the ideological distinction means much in practice, whether regarding I/P or more generally. I’m not sure if that addresses your challenge, but your own rhetorical tactics seem rather convoluted.

    • ritzl
      December 28, 2012, 8:14 pm

      Well said, as usual.

  6. David Samel
    December 28, 2012, 11:28 am

    To add to what I just wrote, there is an interesting analysis from Mitchell Plitnick available here: link to muzzlewatch.com

    His bottom line is the same as mine: This is a real opportunity to deal the Lobby a big loss. One doesn’t have to like Chuck Hagel to see the value in that.

    • Shingo
      December 29, 2012, 7:15 am

      This is a real opportunity to deal the Lobby a big loss. One doesn’t have to like Chuck Hagel to see the value in that.

      I couldn’t agree more.

      While the criticisms Davis and Ajl have raised might be accurate, their argument strike me as seriously disingenuous. These pundits , and even Alex to some extent, are carrying on as though there was another much more preferable candidate waiting in the wings that stands a chance of being successful. The fact is that Hagel is probably the most moderate and most anti war nomination we are ever likely to see. If he is not successful, then the successful nominee will without a doubt, be pro war and pro Likudnik.

      So yeah, scrutinize Hagel all you want and pretend to want something better, when in fact, you are simply playing he part of useful idiots for AIPAC and WINEP.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 8:30 am

        ” These pundits , and even Alex to some extent, are carrying on as though there was another much more preferable candidate waiting in the wings that stands a chance of being successful. ”

        I see no evidence that would suggest that they are so naive as to think that anyone who would even think about questioning whether murderous US imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere is a good idea would even be allowed near the short list for the office of War Secretary.

        Max, in particular, has long correctly stated that the problem is not a staffing issue, but a structural issue. The institutions we have exist in order to ensure the profits and power of the capitalist class, and so anyone who’s allowed anywhere near the control panel will be someone who shares that commitment and is at least apparently competent enough to ensure that s/he can do it properly.

        Indeed, the whole point of both Max’s article and this one is that it is naive and a waste of time to cheerlead one or other candidate for CEO of Murder, Inc., since, no matter who’s at the helm, the machine will do what it is supposed to.

        People who think that putting Hagel in charge of the War Department will make a noticeable difference in actual US policy probably think that a Xerox machine will start making donuts if they put the right person at the controls.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 10:51 am

        “People who think that putting Hagel in charge of the War Department will make a noticeable difference in actual US policy probably think that a Xerox machine will start making donuts if they put the right person at the controls.” ……elise

        And people who think anyone more anti war or a total pacifist is ever going to be appointed Sec. of DEFENSE…..dont get what the position is about.
        Take Hagel and be grateful for small favors.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 29, 2012, 12:34 pm

        elise, i am curious what you think of the neocons. do you make any distinction between them and the realists? if so, what is it?

      • David Green
        December 29, 2012, 1:36 pm

        In short, the difference is in tactics and not strategy. The strategy is domination and control.

      • tree
        December 29, 2012, 3:03 pm

        People who think that putting Hagel in charge of the War Department will make a noticeable difference in actual US policy probably think that a Xerox machine will start making donuts if they put the right person at the controls.

        I think the strained analogy actually sums up the problem with the argument you make. Apparently you think that the only “noticeable difference” discernible in a Zerox machine would be something along the order of its suddenly “making donuts”. But the rest of us can grasp what you can’t; i.e. that copy quality or speed or efficiency or versatility are all noticeable differences in copying machines. It doesn’t have to start spewing out donuts for us to take notice.

        Your argument is the tired old one that there is no discernible difference between Bismark and Hindenburg and Hitler. Or no difference between Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. It doesn’t matter who leads because they are all “imperialists” and radical change is the only change you see as significant. But radical change only comes when present conditions get so bad that the system totally breaks. And before that happens a lot of people get hurt, no doubt many,or even most, of them not citizens of the imperial power. I’ll take noticeable and incremental change for the better anytime I can get it.

        And pushing back hard on the smear tactics of known war mongerers is necessary and laudatory for that incremental change in this instance. That’s a stand worthy of making. And Hagel and Elliot Abrams( for one example) are not interchangeable, despite the fact that Hagel will never “make donuts” at the Defense Department.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 5:04 pm

        “And people who think anyone more anti war or a total pacifist is ever going to be appointed Sec. of DEFENSE…..dont get what the position is about.”

        That’s exactly my point. Of course we’re going to get a militarist as the Warmonger-in-Chief of a heavily militarised state that seeks to avoid diplomacy at all costs. That’s a given.

        So maybe, just maybe, we’re spinning our wheels debating over who is going to be the steward of US militarism for the next few years when we should be talking about what can actually be done to put an end to it.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 5:05 pm

        “elise, i am curious what you think of the neocons. do you make any distinction between them and the realists? if so, what is it?”

        I don’t see a huge difference between them. They are both committed to a world in which the US dominates by force, crushing anyone who stands in their path. They have slightly different rhetoric, but they reach the same overall policy conclusions.

  7. W.Jones
    December 28, 2012, 11:45 am

    I thought the Jadayliya article was good. Thanks for writing on this and providing another perspective. Mainly it seemed he was one taking a more independent position on the IP Conflict, which attracted me. That wouldn’t mean overall he was actually progressive, but it seemed more likely he was not going to be particularly aggressive in foreign affairs. Plus, the way the Lobby attacked him made him more attractive to me. Then of course MW seemed to support him. So there are different factors influencing me.

  8. CitizenC
    December 28, 2012, 1:18 pm

    I am surprised at the uncritical reception of Ajl’s piece by some, not all. And the indifference to the counterargument about Israel’s radicalizing role, esp but not exclusively since the end of the Cold War. The fall of Sunni rule in Iraq due to the 2003 US invasion has led directly to the present dissolution of Syria at the hands of Gulf-backed Islamic insurgents, among other catastrophes.

    Ajl’s piece tries to conceal Zionism’s quasi-sovereign role in US policy, which dates from the 1940s, and which has turned the Middle East into the eastern front of the US empire, site of its worst deeds and ideologies.

    As his “Jewbonics” web site shows, Ajl is a self-styled “tough Jew”, like those who earned the admiration of the Red Army soldiers he quotes, sticking it to what he sees as the flabby conventional wisdom. This chauvinism also passes without notice.

    I have zero interest in debating these issues, which lead to “Jewish identity” territory forbidden on Mondo. Let’s just say that we shall overcome the “Israel lobby”, not by denying its importance, as its left wing has it, but on classical left and liberal terms, which begin by rejecting the Zionism in whose name the Lobby speaks.

    • Mooser
      December 28, 2012, 2:47 pm

      “I have zero interest in debating these issues, which lead to “Jewish identity” territory forbidden on Mondo.”

      Apparently no one is banned from discussing the “Jewish Identity”, not at all. The only ban seems to be on telling us what it is.

      • CitizenC
        December 28, 2012, 3:24 pm

        Or perhaps, that privilege and racism are not guaranteed by civil rights as your inalienable “identity”

    • elisehendrick
      December 28, 2012, 5:59 pm

      “As his “Jewbonics” web site shows, Ajl is a self-styled “tough Jew”, like those who earned the admiration of the Red Army soldiers he quotes, sticking it to what he sees as the flabby conventional wisdom. This chauvinism also passes without notice.

      I have zero interest in debating these issues, which lead to “Jewish identity” territory forbidden on Mondo”

      Here’s a clue on how to avoid debating issues you have “zero interest in debating”. DON’T BRING THEM UP. We’re not debating Max’s ethnicity, we’re debating whether one imperialist manager or the other really matters to the victims of US policy. I can understand how some white supremacists can’t actually separate the ethnicity of a commentator from the content of the commentator’s analysis (much like Einstein’s theory of relativity was derided in similar quarters as “Jewish physics”), but it really isn’t that hard.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 3:12 pm

        @ citizenc

        That is funny……I don’t know anything about Ali and Jewbonics but defending it or condeming it whatever she’s doing by calling out white supremist is hysterical…which one is suppose to be worse or better..Jewbonics or white supremist…or are they suppose to be alike?….I’m confused.
        Why is this commenter so stuck on white breads and white supremist?…I smell a troll trying to chum the thread.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 3:17 pm

        “I can understand how some white supremacists can’t actually separate the ethnicity of a commentator from the content of the commentator’s analysis (much like Einstein’s theory of relativity was derided “..elise

        If you’re that interested in white supremist you really should go to David Dukes site…we’re all out of them here, haven’t had any white supremist shipped here in quite some time.

      • andrew r
        December 29, 2012, 3:39 pm

        “Ajl can’t merely advance an argument, to be considered on its merits, he has to put on a “tough Jew” act.”

        He can defend himself but if you don’t quote him at length and only gleamed that from the tagline on his blog, it’s not a very impressive observation.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 4:55 pm

        “Pointing this out is then compared to white supremacism or harping on Einstein’s background. ”

        It wasn’t compared to white supremacism, it was identified as white supremacism, because that’s precisely what it is.

        CitizenC pseudonymously claims he doesn’t want to discuss Max Ajl’s ethnicity (which happens to be irrelevant to the question at hand anyway), only to make his entire comments about Max’s ethnicity, based on the notion that simply identifying himself as Jewish is a statement of “Jewish chauvinism”.

        It seems that what CitizenC really has “zero interest in debating” is the issue at hand: Whether one imperial manager or another will truly make a difference to the victims of US foreign policy.

      • CitizenC
        December 29, 2012, 5:49 pm

        Andrew, everything Ajl writes on the US-Israel relationship seems to be in the “tough Jew” vein, incl the piece on Hagel. He affects a muscular, aggrieved tone, telling the feckless gentiles what’s *really* up in the world. I’ve read his stuff and had exchanges with him before.

        Moreover, the tough Jew persona doesn’t cost him in academe, or he seems to think it won’t, and he is a grad student in sociology, presumably building his CV for the job market.

  9. Les
    December 28, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Lost in the discussion is mention that Hagel owned the very company whose machines recorded/calculated the votes in his Senate victory.

    • American
      December 28, 2012, 3:22 pm

      Les says:

      Lost in the discussion is mention that Hagel owned the very company whose machines recorded/calculated the votes in his Senate victory.”>>>>

      Also not totally accurate.

      ES&S (voting machines) was formerly AIS (voting machines.
      McCarthy Investment Group, an investment firm owned AIS, later known as ES&S.
      Hagel went to work for McCarthy investments in Nebraska and became president of the investment firm in 1992. As the Prez of McCarthy Group, he served as a Chairman on the ES&S board, a typical arrangement for a officer of the investment holding company to sit on the board of their “investment, but Hagel did not ‘own it”. The only financial connection was whatever stock/interest Hagel had in parent company McCarthy had in ES&S, not a sole direct ownership of ES&S.

      When he ran for senator in 1995 he resigned from the ES&S board. Did ES&S like Hagel enough that they cheated for him….with an obvious 200,000 more votes worth? Who knows, but Hagel disinvested himself from McCarthy also so he has no financial interest there either.

      • Les
        December 29, 2012, 1:16 pm

        Thanks for the correction about Hagel’s “ownership” of the company. What still remains is the widely unbelieved count of Hage’s margin of victory that has gone unnoticed by our obsequious media.

  10. Annie Robbins
    December 28, 2012, 3:43 pm

    another thing max says. he quotes hagel “We do have some rather significant evidence that sanctions are working.” and later makes the point: The question is minute divergences of strategy within a broader vision of domination of the region

    well i don’t like sanctions. but it doesn’t have to lead to war. yes, they’re deadly (iraq) but who’s going to argue they are the same as destroying iraq? max is! that’s who: “They forget that sanctions are war by other means.”

    so, would you rather sanctions or home invasions and bombs? it’s not the same. here’s hagel, and note the EU, Chinese and Russians are not advocating war with iran:

    link to acus.org

    I would add only this: As to the use of military force, whether it’s for a political motive or not, I don’t think I have to remind the public that the United States of America is currently in two wars – two of the longest we’ve ever been in. And before we finally wind our way out of each, they will be the longest wars we’ve ever engaged in.

    That has come at a very significant cost to this country. I think it’s undermined our interest in the world. You don’t need to go much beyond asking any general who’s in charge of men and women in the Pentagon, their families, or any metric that you want to apply – record suicides, record divorces, record homeless and all the rest – as to but one consequence of taking the nation to war.

    So I think talking about going to war with Iran in fairly specific terms should be carefully reviewed. And that’s pretty dangerous talk. It’s easy to get a nation into war; not so easy to get a nation out of war, as we are finding out. I’m not sure that the American people are ready to go into a third war.

    Second, if you subscribe to what Barbara has laid out – at least, what our taskforce has found – in particular, the internal dynamics that are occurring in Iran, then why in the world would you, as Barbara has noted, want to get in the way of that?

    We do have some rather significant evidence that sanctions are working. And they’re working because we – our government, our policies; imperfect, flawed problems; every policy has those. But nonetheless, it has accomplished something even bigger than sanctions. And that is they have brought a consensus together of most countries – the European Union, the Chinese are involved, Russians are involved. We have a rather significant consensus on this issue up to a point. And I think all you need to do is reflect on the United Nations’ vote on this as a pretty good indicator.

    Now, that alone won’t change the dynamics. But as Barbara – (audio break) – if you subscribe to what our taskforce has come up with, then aren’t we wiser to let this play out? Aren’t we – (audio break) – wiser, rather to get ourselves into another very difficult predicament because – (audio break) – we do also know that wars have – (audio break) – most of the time and especially – (audio break) – where we live in a day they have unintended consequences. They have uncontrollable consequences. We live in an interconnected global – (audio break) – and I think, again, we should factor that in.

    Last point I would make: as to the question of, well, but aren’t we just allowing the Iranians to buy time? Maybe. We have to recognize that the real world is about risks. You calibrate your decisions and your policymaking based on that risk analysis.

    Is it riskier to go to war right now or is it riskier to pursue the policies that we are pursuing? Policymakers have to decide that. They have to sort their way through that and then they come to a decision. It’s my analysis – and answering your question, Shuja – that it is far riskier to talk of war and to go to war.

    As the ambassador has noted, we are the mightiest military force on Earth. The world has never seen such military power. But that military power must always be tempered with a purpose. And the military option is always on the table – of course it is – for any sovereign nation. But at the same time we recognize that, that option is there.

    The leaders of our country, the leaders of the world are not living in an “Alice in Wonderland” type of a world. They are living in a real world and they have to make real decisions based on what they calculate to be the dynamics and the facts as they are today. But probably more importantly, what they think they will be. That’s leadership

    • andrew r
      December 29, 2012, 9:40 pm

      “well i don’t like sanctions. but it doesn’t have to lead to war. yes, they’re deadly (iraq) but who’s going to argue they are the same as destroying iraq? max is! that’s who: “They forget that sanctions are war by other means.””

      Wait, back up a minute. Would it be fair to extrapolate from this you’d support an Israeli government if you knew it would only continue the siege on Gaza and completely refrain from bombing it? The point here isn’t the question itself — It’s that you can’t know anyone who’d support economic warfare would abstain from military warfare. Aside from that, sanctions and blockades can achieve the desired level of destruction. It should be pretty obvious to us today (and at the time, even) that the sanctions on Iraq were not employed because G. H. W. Bush and Clinton were too humanitarian to bomb the country.

  11. ritzl
    December 28, 2012, 5:15 pm

    Maybe someone’s already said this, but this lefty supports Hagel because ANYBODY that stands even a remote chance of altering or even lessening our perpetual war footing, promoted by whomever for whomever, increases the chance that all those future $Ts can go toward green energy, battery, and every other economy/standard of living enhancing basic research and/or infrastructure development, as well as other “lefty”-supported actions that would actually and fundamentally help this country out of its downward slide.

    I don’t see anyone on the Dem side that stands any chance whatsoever of changing our current situation/conventional wisdom.

    I think that even a glimmer of an opportunity is so much more than symbolic, tbh. It’s a glimpse of what needs to be done, that maybe some future Dem Pres candidate will see and put forward a pattern of political action capable of addressing the above pressing needs.

    • ToivoS
      December 28, 2012, 6:58 pm

      As another lefty I have said much the same. My initial reaction was ho hum, a Democrat appointing another repub. But when the lobby mobilized against him than this made it an interesting political contest. In fact, it looks like his nomination might turn into a proxy war over Iran. If Hagel is nominated then it means the the lobby and the Iran war party (do I repeat myself?) will suffer a serious setback. This in itself will be worth having Hagel nominated.

      The other plus is that a win here will open up a broader discussion about Israel and the power of the lobby, which of course is the reason for Phil’s excitement over Hagel. At this point even if Hagel is not nominated that is already happening. This is win/win.

      • Shingo
        December 29, 2012, 7:22 am

        If Hagel is nominated then it means the the lobby and the Iran war party (do I repeat myself?) will suffer a serious setback. This in itself will be worth having Hagel nominated.

        My point exactly. Isn’t even the possible likelyhood that war with Iran will be less likely worth supporting Hagel’s candidacy? It sees that people like Green, Davis and Ajl t’s better to have a pro Iran war, pro Likudnik hawk get the job than a less than perfect peace candidate.

        These people are as delusional (or dishonest) as some of the radical pro gay activists who wanted to being down this nomination purely on the possibility he might have been homophobic.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 9:03 am

        “My point exactly. Isn’t even the possible likelyhood that war with Iran will be less likely worth supporting Hagel’s candidacy? It sees that people like Green, Davis and Ajl t’s better to have a pro Iran war, pro Likudnik hawk get the job than a less than perfect peace candidate.”

        First of all, if Hagel is a “peace candidate”, then war must be peace.

        Second of all, war with Iran was ruled out years ago, and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change. This propaganda has gone on for nearly a decade now. If there were going to be a war (beyond economic warfare and the odd covert operation), it would have happened by now. We shouldn’t let this nonsense distract us from what actually IS being done right now.

      • Shingo
        December 29, 2012, 8:04 pm

        First of all, if Hagel is a “peace candidate”, then war must be peace.

        No, it just means that Hagel is less likely to support war than any other.

        Second of all, war with Iran was ruled out years ago

        Not in Bibbi’s eyes of the war party in Washington. In fact, it was Hagel’s suggestion that war with Iran is a crazy idea that led to this hysteria. The necon attack adds accuse him of being out fo step with Obama “everything is on the table” policy.

  12. valency
    December 28, 2012, 7:06 pm

    It’s very simple: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Real leftists have never shrunk from forming pragmatic alliances. And only Nixon could start the process of normalising relations with China; perhaps only Chuck Hegel, whose national security credentials are without question, can take on and diminish the influence of the Israel lobby.

    • elisehendrick
      December 29, 2012, 9:05 am

      “perhaps only Chuck Hegel, whose national security credentials are without question, can take on and diminish the influence of the Israel lobby.”

      Every time people talk about The Lobby rather than actually discussing the structural and economic roots – and fundamental worldwide continuity – of US foreign policy, The Lobby wins. Let’s stop treating the PR agency as if they were the ones making the decisions.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 11:18 am

        elisehendrick says:

        Every time people talk about The Lobby rather than actually discussing the structural and economic roots – and fundamental worldwide continuity – of US foreign policy, The Lobby wins”>>>>

        Do tell. Explain to us the…… ” structural and economic roots and fundemental world wide continuity of US foreign policy” ….as it relates to the current and most immediate issue of the push by US zioinst and Israel for a US attack on Iran involved in the apointment of Hagel.
        We’re particulary interested in the ”structual and economic roots” behind US policy that have put us trillions in debt to date. Is there some super secret Pinky and the Brain master plan to take over the world and improve our structural and economic roots by first bankrupting ourselves and crashing the global economy? How exactly does that work? rotflmao

      • ritzl
        December 29, 2012, 12:32 pm

        @American Amazing what gets overlooked when people establish a position first and backfill accordingly. Thanks.

      • elisehendrick
        December 29, 2012, 5:09 pm

        “We’re particulary interested in the ”structual and economic roots” behind US policy that have put us trillions in debt to date. Is there some super secret Pinky and the Brain master plan to take over the world and improve our structural and economic roots by first bankrupting ourselves and crashing the global economy?”

        There’s nothing secret about it. The US ruling class presupposes their right to rule the world as one of the basic assumptions of public debate. Note, of course, that not everyone is being bankrupted – the ruling class have made out just fine, with record profits and ever-increasing state subsidies.

        The only people who feel a need to make this some sort of super-secret cabal (an All Powerful Lobby, for example) are the conspiracists, but there’s certainly no need to join that particular cult: The system is actually quite “out and proud” about what it does, and only the details are actually shielded from public scrutiny to any significant degree.

      • American
        December 29, 2012, 9:55 pm

        “There’s nothing secret about it. The US ruling class presupposes their right to rule the world as one of the basic assumptions of public debate. Note, of course, that not everyone is being bankrupted – the ruling class have made out just fine, with record profits and ever-increasing state subsidies.

        The only people who feel a need to make this some sort of super-secret cabal (an All Powerful Lobby, for example) are the conspiracists, but there’s certainly no need to join that particular cult: The system is actually quite “out and proud” about what it does, and only the details are actually shielded from public scrutiny to any significant degree.”..elise

        That’s hysterical! There is no All Powerful Lobby for example and people who say there is are conspiracists.

        BUT ..BUT…BUT…..there is One Gaint Conspiracy of Capitalist Who Run the World…according to you..BUT… you’re not a conspiracist?

        ROTFLMAO…….

      • W.Jones
        December 29, 2012, 1:06 pm

        Elise,

        I am confused by your statement:
        “Every time people talk about The Lobby rather than actually discussing the structural and economic roots – and fundamental worldwide continuity – of US foreign policy, The Lobby wins.”

        For example, if some people have a critical discussion about the Tobacco Lobby’s power instead of how millions of unhealthy smokers and cigarette outlets influence legislators, it does not seem the Tobacco Lobby wins. Sure, the government is influenced alot by smokers and retail business, but the Tobacco Lobby is another key player in government decisions on the topic, and that Lobby doesn’t “win” when criticism focuses on it.

  13. American
    December 29, 2012, 12:43 pm

    OT..but under noticed and worth mentioning. Under the radar there appears to be some adm moves to crackdown on tax cheats , offshore funds and expats and duals who are gaming the game. The IRS is in gear and some closer checking and restrictions on US citizenship privilages without paying your tax share is coming. We’ll see if Israel and Isr duals get any exemption from the new rules. Also there are going to be some tax changes to charitable deductions overall that will effect various kind of orgs…dont know yet how they will affect Israel orgs but they will effect orgs like CNI according to Allison Weir so I assume they will have some affect on similar orgs for Israel.

    link to haaretz.com

    Lawyers: New tax rates will spur Americans in Israel to renounce U.S. citizenship
    Experts predict IRS will become cagier.
    By Andrew Esensten | Dec.28, 2012 | 3:01 AM

  14. American
    December 29, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Why are the lefties for Hagel? Well, according them they care about people. Not exactly sure how true that is, but anyway. If you don’t want to create more of this then you don’t jump into wars so easily…and Hagel has consistently said jumping into wars is not a good idea.

    link to usatoday.com

    Homeless, at-risk veterans double
    Gregg Zoroya USA TODAY12:02p.m. EST December 27, 2012
    CommentsShare

    Homeless U.S. military veterans stand in line to get housing help
    The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are homeless or at risk of losing a roof over their heads has more than doubled in the past two years, according to government data.
    Through the end of September, 26,531 of them were living on the streets, at risk of losing their homes, staying in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to pay rent, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports.
    That’s up from 10,500 in 2010. The VA says the numbers could be higher because they include only the homeless the department is aware of.
    The increase arrives as President Obama’s goal of ending homelessness for all veterans is showing some results.
    The VA attributes the increase partly to more aggressive efforts to identify and assist this younger generation of veteran.
    The department says effects of the two wars on them, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and a slow economic recovery have contributed to their homelessness.
    The issue is particularly acute as the military continues to draw down its ranks. ”

  15. American
    December 29, 2012, 2:53 pm

    Why are the Realist for Hagel? Well because they have a good grip on the incompetence of the US war machine and how the 21th century ain’t yur Daddy’s kind of 1940′s wars and how we are spending ourselves into oblivion with no positive results. IOW, the DOD needs an enema and whittling down to get rid of the deadheads and produce a force that can actually do the job without the waste.
    To wit, this dumber than sh@t 600 million mistake that a grocery shopper would have checked the expiration date on before buying.

    link to stripes.com

    US scraps entire fleet of Afghan cargo planes
    Stars and Stripes
    Published: December 28, 2012
    KABUL — The U.S. military is scrapping the Afghan air force’s entire fleet of Italian-made cargo planes, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
    Now, despite spending nearly $600 million on the program, the U.S. is canceling the contract for the aircraft and disposing of all 16 planes delivered to the Afghan Air Force, the Journal reported

    comment
    ”As a former pilot in this unit, I can provide FACTS:
    1. This is not the newly-purchased and recently-cancelled C-27J. These aircraft are 1980-vintage, Italian surplus G.222 aircraft, very similar to the C-27As the USAF operated out of Howard AB, Panama during the 90s. They were purchased by DoD (not the Army or the USAF) with the express intent of “donating” them to the Afghan AF. For various legal reasons–and because the Afghans didn’t want these unreliable, un-maintainable airplanes–they were never transferred to AAF control.
    2. The performance of the G.222 is totally inadequate in high altitude, hot conditions. This makes the airplane unsuited to perform its mission a significant portion of the year in Afghanistan. DoD acquisitions folks should have known this before they inked the deal.
    3. The G.222 has always required a lot of maintenance, something that the DoD acquisitions folks should have known before they inked the deal. Even fresh out of the refurbishment, they were often unable to make the flight from Italy to Afghanistan without breaking down along the way. The fleet in Kabul was plagued with fuel leaks, flap problems, landing gear problems, and several engine failures. That’s why they were grounded from Dec 11 thru May 12.
    3. Since the plane has been out of production for decades, most of its spare parts are no longer available. DoD acquisition folks should have known this before they inked the deal. I don’t know whether Alenia misled them, or they just didn’t ask the right questions. Consequently, most of the 16 planes on the ramp in Kabul were unflyable because they were cannibalized for parts to keep 4-5 airplanes flying.
    Overall, the program was a fiasco, and its termination is long overdue. The USAF’s inability to manage this program made us look incredibly stupid, so we lost a lot of credibility with the Afghan leadership and pilots we were trying to mentor.”

  16. Jim Holstun
    December 29, 2012, 4:32 pm

    American asks, “Do tell. Explain to us the…… ‘structural and economic roots and fundemental world wide continuity of US foreign policy’ ….as it relates to the current and most immediate issue of the push by US zioinst and Israel for a US attack on Iran involved in the apointment of Hagel.”

    Well, let’s start with the enormous power of the US armaments industry and particularly its petroleum industry, who are delighted to have a certain level of tension remaining in the Middle East, and a cartel of mostly Sunni oil-producing countries organized against Iran, artificially inflating the price of petroleum. For more on this, see Max Ajl’s excellent recent review essay of Alan Hart’s three books on “the Lobby,” in Historical Materialism 20.3 (2012) 159–180.

    Your sarcastic concluding comment overlooks who has profited from that enormous US debt: the wealthy, arms manufacturers, and also petrocapitalists, among others. And your reference to “our structural and economic roots” suggests that you remain oblivious to Ajl’s powerful critique of the Realists on the Lobby being at odds with “America,” with “us,” as we seek to advance “American interests” worldwide. Americans of different classes have much different interests. Some will continue to profit from the occupation of Palestine and the sanctions on Iran; most will not.

    Really, given the manifest interest here, Mondoweiss should post Ajl’s piece, unless a historical materialist perspective is outside the pale, and perhaps even un-American.

    Elise Hendrick on the Realist photocopy machine is perfect–hurrah for you, madame!

  17. elisehendrick
    December 29, 2012, 5:58 pm

    I remember reading something about a no-racism policy for the comments here at MondoWeiss. Can anyone tell me when that is scheduled to take effect, or is there some provision grandfathering in anyone who was engaging in racism before the effective date?

    This comment thread is utterly rife with racism, and it doesn’t appear that anyone is bothering to moderate.