Hagel called for all-but normalizing relations with Iran so as to engage it as an ally on Israel-Palestine issue

Israel/Palestine
on 55 Comments
Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel

Chuck Hagel, the Republican former Senator who is said to be Obama’s leading choice to be Defense Secretary, called for making a “security gift” to Iran and all-but normalizing relations with the country so as to get its help in solving the Israel-Palestine issue, which he described as the “strategic epicenter” of global conflict. 

Speaking in December 2008 to a Jewish audience in New York, Hagel said the United States must talk to Iran, and more: we should resume commercial flights to the country and set up an interests section there (a step short of an embassy but presumably staffed by foreign service officers).

Hagel made only a passing reference to alleged Iranian nuclear ambitions, and seemed to dismiss sanctions as he spoke of Iran as a nation with which we share interests.

We’ve already picked up Hagel’s 2010 comments, all but ruling out war with Iran. Because of such reasonable statements, neoconservatives are now gunning for him on Capitol Hill and promising a war against him should he be nominated. We can only hope that such a battle takes place; and that it includes a full discussion of the issues of “justice” for Palestinians that Hagel addressed in his speech, and of the centrality of the Israel-Palestine conflict to global instability.

Hagel was the keynote speaker to a conference of the liberal Zionist organization, the Israel Policy Forum, on December 4, 2008, at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

Here are his comments about Iran from that speech:

Engagement is not appeasement, diplomacy is not weakness….

The worst thing we can do, the most dangerous thing we can do is continue to isolate nations, is continue to not engage nations. Great powers engage. Great powers form coalitions of common interest. They form alliances….

Iran. I know it’s easy to dismiss Iran by saying, Wait, we’re not going to talk to Iran, they support terrorists, they support Hezbollah. They’ve got their tentacles wrapped around every problem in the middle East. They’re anti-Israel, anti-United States. Those are realities. Those are facts.

Now we’ve got a choice here, we can continue to push Iran out and back, and say to Iran, We will give you the privilege of sitting down and talking with us based on our preconditions. And as that goes on, Iran continues most likely to develop nuclear capabilities, it continues to enhance its position with a significant population in the Middle East, which is a direct threat against Israel, a direct threat against the interests of the United States, a threat against Iraq…
If we continue to push countries back away and out, and we don’t engage, then it is very predictable what the outcome is going to be…
You cannot take any of these challenges and deal with them in capsules, and in compartments. Iran has everything to do with the outcome in Iraq, the outcome of the Israeli Palestinian issue, of the Middle East itself, the stability of those Persian gulf countries, of oil..

[W]hen we’re talking about Iran, I believe that is going to require some kind of security gift. I believe it’s going to require some easy-to-do breakthroughs like an interest section, commercial exchange of flights. We can do those kinds of things.

You’ll see the context for these remarks in the fuller excerpt of the speech below. (I attended the Israel Policy Forum and recorded the speech that night.) As you read his words, notice how much Hagel, who was already being spoken of as a likely cabinet pick in the Obama administration, reflects the realist/idealist foreign-policy thinking of that administration: we must deal with the Israel-Palestine issue now because it threatens U.S. interests across the region and the world.

“That one issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue shapes almost every other issue,” he said. And so we must talk to Iran. There was not a word about sanctions against Iran in Hagel’s speech, only the suggestion that we must ease them. 

Hagel said that he had spent “hours” talking with Obama, and welcomed his administration’s new approach.

The Middle East is as central to what they want to accomplish as any one thing. And why is that? Yes it’s a sense of justice. They also understand that unless we bring this Israeli Palestinian issue to some higher ground, and unless we are able to break through the fog that has surrounded, dominated, and consumed the effort that all Presidents have made since 1948, and leaders of the world have made, that continues to elude us, unless we break through that, then we will continue to see a more dangerous, complicated world.

Of course these idealistic policy pronouncements fell apart within a year, as Obama found himself pinned down by the Israel lobby. 

Here are substantial excerpts of Hagel’s speech.

[Hagel began by talking about his basic training in Texas, in June-July 1967, at the time of the Six Day War.]

And I remember there was much conversation in our barracks during our training, mainly coming from our drill sergeants, that it was a matter of where the army would send us, as we completed our basic training then our advanced infantry training– whether we would be going to the Middle East, because there was a war in the Middle East then… or Vietnam. I remember very serious conversations within our barracks about that issue and I being from Nebraska– and I had never been outside of Nebraska until I went to basic training in Fort Bliss, Texas– was most intrigued by the perceptions of these young men who were with me… and particularly their perceptions of Israel and the Middle East. What was this about? Was this America’s war. Why would we send troops to the Middle East? What a crazy idea that was. It was OK to send American troops to Vietnam, but not to the Middle East.

And I have always recalled those days, that kind of conversation, and I would freely acknowledge that I was not a great geopolitical thinker in 1967. Most people would acknowledge that I’m not a great geopolitical thinker now. Nonetheless we stumble thru these things as best we can. And that time listening to the comments and questions, shaped a sense of what I would later learn more and more about, this strange place Catholics knew as the holy land, where Jesus Christ was born and where he was crucified, where it all emanated from, our faith, everything we believed in that was good, everything that we believed America was about. Somehow that was tied to the holy land, to the Middle East….

[The Middle East] represents that part of the world, a strategic epicenter of great conflict, and I listen to Peter [Joseph, president of Israel Policy Forum] and I talk about justice, about hope, about possibilities. That is not reserved for Catholics or Jews or Hindus or Muslims. That is what we all aspire to, justice, equality, hope, a better world. I have referenced that as the common denominators of the human condition. Most of you in this room have been to many places in the world and I suspect most of you would find it hard to believe that somehow one religion or one region of the world has a corner on those virtues. That somehow Christians are more noble than Jews, or that Jews are more noble than Muslims. I don’t think so. I think all people love their children and their families and want a better world.

And that has led me to one very fundamental observation about the world, that somehow it eludes us in this great dilemma in the Middle East, and that is the human condition. The human condition has dictated every event in the history of man and it always will. Because when men are locked in cycles of despair, and when there is no human dignity, when there is no hope, then it’s fairly predictable that it will not result in a better world, in a safer world, in a more just world, and I don’t mean that I connect poverty or despair with terrorism or extremism, but I will tell you that when you look at the world today, six-and-a half billion people, the regions of the world that have been left behind since World War 2, that in fact have not enjoyed human liberties and advancement of the human condition and an increase of standard of living and hope and possibilities– they are the most troubled areas of the world, and we know where they are, the Middle East, much of Asia, Africa, a good part of South America.

It is about the human condition, and when we do not deal with the human condition, the human condition will deal with us. The human condition will dominate all of us, and the realities of policy…

The Middle East, as Peter has noted in regard to President-elect Obama’s cabinet, he is selecting– from conversations I’ve had with President-elect Obama, Senator and President-elect Obama and Vice president-elect Biden, the Middle East is as central to what they want to accomplish as any one thing. And why is that? Yes it’s a sense of justice. They also understand that unless we bring this Israeli Palestinian issue to some higher ground, and unless we are able to break through the fog that has surrounded, dominated, and consumed the effort that all Presidents have made since 1948, and leaders of the world have made, that continues to elude us, unless we break through that, then we will continue to see a more dangerous, complicated world. It is clearly in the interest of America and clearly in the interest of the Middle East, and the world that this issue be brought to a higher ground of confidence and trust and move to a different plateau of finally try to solve the problem in a relevant and realistic way.

I know that the topics of the three breakout sessions tonight are all quite relevant to your topic and your focus here tonight because all three in my opinion are part of the comprehensive strategic context and approach that must be employed in a coherent way to deal with getting to where we all or almost all of us agree we need to get to and that is a two state solution. We almost all agree with that, and the leaders of the free world, the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and most all the Arab nations of the world, Russia, China, the P5 plus one, NATO, most of the United Nations, all agree, that is the objective, That is the point.

Why can’t we get there? Why do we keep going backwards? Well, partly like all great challenges and objectives in life, they are difficult. And they require a concerted concentrated focus day in and day out to get it done. I have called over the years and most recently in the last two years for a presidential special envoy that must stay there and work it, day in and day out. The good efforts of many who have been involved in these efforts over the years I do not diminish, I acknowledge, but it’s going to take an effort, an effort that is day to day, hour to hour, and minute to minute.

The United States cannot impose peace in the Middle East but I don’t believe anyway you come at this there will be peace in the Middle East without the U.S. Because, if for no other reason, we’re the only nation that’s capable and has the capacity and most importantly still I believe, has the confidence and trust of all sides, to be able to bring this and elevate this to the position it requires in order to move it toward an accommodation, a resolution.

[Hagel refers to Turkish efforts to broker Israeli-Syrian accord]

But as important as any one of those pieces, and they all play a role in the larger framework of a strategic comprehensive effort to accomplish this objective, is engagement. Engagement is not appeasement, diplomacy is not weakness. The most dangerous thing the United States or any nation can do in a completely interconnected world that we live in today and we don’t need much more evidence of an interconnected world than the global financial crisis we are trying to work our way through right now… So there isn’t any debate about this. This is a world that is interconnected, it is combustible, it’s complicated and it’s dangerous.

So what do you do? The worst thing we can do, the most dangerous thing we can do is continue to isolate nations, is continue to not engage nations. Great powers engage. Great powers form coalitions of common interest. They form alliances. They strengthen alliances. What just occurred in India [Mumbai attack, Nov. 2008] — we the civilized world, combating this kind of ruthless, despicable outrageous barbaric terrorism, which Israel has been dealing with for a long time as well as other nations– the only way we start to get a fix and our arms around that is to work a common denominator and dynamic of all people, the human condition.

And that requires engagement. That requires alliances, that requires seamless networks of intelligence-sharing and gathering, that requires jobs and hope and possibilities, education. Armies are not going to fix this problem. The military cannot fix this problem in Iraq. The military can’t fix the problem in Afghanistan. Part of it [it can fix]– but it will require all the instruments of power of a great nation, diplomatic, trade, economic, education, alliances, intelligence. Military is part of that, but they can’t fix the problem. And we’re learning that the hard way in Iraq, we’re learning that the hard way in Afghanistan. And I don’t believe you’re going to have a solution in Afghanistan and Iraq without bringing in all the powers in the region, a comprehensive strategic context of all those pieces.

Iran. I know it’s easy to dismiss Iran by saying, Wait, we’re not going to talk to Iran, they support terrorists, they support Hezbollah. They’ve got their tentacles wrapped around every problem in the middle East. They’re anti-Israel, anti-United States. Those are realities. Those are facts.

Now we’ve got a choice here, we can continue to push Iran out and back, and say to Iran, We will give you the privilege of sitting down and talking with us based on our preconditions. And as that goes on, Iran continues most likely to develop nuclear capabilities, it continues to enhance its position with a significant population in the Middle East, which is a direct threat against Israel, a direct threat against the interests of the United States, a threat against Iraq. In fact, the United States solved two of Iran’s biggest problems, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. Why did Iran cooperate with the United States and work with the United States after the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan? Because it was in their interest. I don’t think it was because they wanted to do us a favor. It was clearly in the interest of Iran not to have that problem on its eastern border. Drugs, terrorists– that is not in the interest of Iran.

Now these are realities that we I believe must factor in to a comprehensive component of a strategic diplomatic effort to bring the nations of that region into some alignment of common interest. We’re not going to get everybody the same way on the same page at the same time, but surely, at least this is my opinion, if we continue to push countries back away and out, and we don’t engage, then it is very predictable what the outcome is going to be.

[Hagel praises Israeli entrepreneur Stef Wertheimer for giving jobs to Palestinians]

He understood a long time ago, we have to get underneath this. What is it that drives them… Unless we begin to direct our attention and focus on this underlying dynamic…as Stef has done, and others, then we will never ever get to the next stage of resolving the problem and getting to where Israel needs to be, should be, the Palestinians need to be, should be, a two state solution.

I believe that this new president and this new vice president and their new team that will take office January 20 are committed to make every effort to do that in different ways. I think they will examine new approaches. I can’t speak for this administration and wouldn’t dare to try. But I know people in this new administration and I know the commitment that they have. I know because I have talked directly for long lengths of time with President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden about this. This is possible. This is doable.

But it must be recognized that the regional component of the Middle East– until we start to understand that you cannot take any of these challenges and deal with them in capsules, and in compartments. Iran has everything to do with the outcome in Iraq, the outcome of the Israeli Palestinian issue, of the Middle East itself, the stability of those Persian gulf countries, of oil. The Russians are connected into this. We have to set up a whole new framework of a Russian-US relationship.

India has their piece of this. And I believe– and I was in Afghanistan and South Asia twice this year– that until we are able to come up with a comprehensive policy on that strip of land from Iran through India– Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India– all four of those countries have to be dealt with within a larger regional context, and when we’re talking about Iran, I believe that is going to require some kind of security gift. I believe it’s going to require some easy-to-do breakthroughs like an interest section, commercial exchange of flights. We can do those kinds of things.

[Hagel then speaks of a Syrian-Israeli peace as "the logical next piece," in which Iran could be engaged.] 

Remember, all this is imperfect. There’s no perfect solution or plan and never will be. It’s imperfect. But we need to keep a wider [unintelligible] view of all of this. Isn’t it better to work our way through some accommodation, and getting on these higher plateaus plane of resolution, so that we can get the larger dynamics in place so we can work on the underlying parts of the problem.We don’t have any choice in a world as complicated and interconnected as the world we live in today. If we do not make progress in the Middle East in the next four years, then we run the risk, not just in the Middle East but in South Asia, and every every area of the world that is in some state of turmoil, then we run the risk of the problem becoming so big, so overpowering, that no nation, no set of nations is capable nor will they have the capacity to deal with it. That’s the kind of risk we run.

[Hagel next speaks of the years 2008-2012 as an opportunity that will go away. He describes world population going from 6.5 billion to 8 billion people].

Think of the resources here, water, oil energy of all kinds. Think of what has to happen to the world over the next four years, in growth, opportunity. All of these things must be factored into this wider range policy.

I started my comments tonight, it leads back to the strategic epicenter in the Middle East of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Why do I say that? More than any other reason, it is the one issue, the one issue alone, the Israeli Palestinian issue alone– fixing that alone is not going to solve every problem in the middle east. We understand that. We have religious hatred… we have regional tribal issues. Yes, all complicated. But that one issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue shapes almost every other issue, not just the optics of it, but the reality of it, and it is allowed as it plays itself out to dominate relationships, to dominate the people who would like a different kind of world.

And I know there’s a lot of debate about whether this issue, ‘it’s not– it’s important, but it certainly doesn’t affect everything.’ It does. And I don’t know any other way to gauge this than you go out and listen to the leaders. You listen to Jewish leaders, listen to Arab leaders. And you sit down with all the leaders of those countries, I have many times, different leaders, and they will take you back to the same issue, right back to this issue. Now I’m not an expert on anything, I’m certainly not an expert on the Middle East, but I do listen, I do observe, and I’m somewhat informed. That informs me when the people of the Middle East themselves tell me, this issue has to be dealt with or there will not be a resolution of any issue in the Middle East.

55 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    December 18, 2012, 10:52 am

    “That one issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue shapes almost every other issue,” he said. And so we must talk to Iran. There was not a word about sanctions against Iran in Hagel’s speech, only the suggestion that we must ease them.

    wow. it’s incredible you attended that event and recorded his speech phil.

    when we do not deal with the human condition, the human condition will deal with us. The human condition will dominate all of us

    • FreddyV
      December 18, 2012, 11:39 am

      Any biases aside, the guy sounds level headed, intelligent and above all a peacemaker.

      No wonder the Israel lobby hate him. It sounds like he’ll make go one better on current Defense Secretary Panetta’s suggestion and force Israel to ‘get to the table’.

      • Kathleen
        December 18, 2012, 7:55 pm

        Hagel blew my mind at the Univ of Colorado World Affairs Conference where he was the main speaker in 2009. As you said “level headed, intelligent and above all a peacemaker” And this was when I asked him questions about the push for a military action on Iran and the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Did not blink an eye and came out with that we have to negotiate with Iran as signatories to the NPT that their fears about Israel or the US attacking them is not a figment of their imagination. Something about all they have to do is look around them. And absolutely said the continued expansion of Israel’s settlements were a real problem.

    • Kathleen
      December 18, 2012, 9:21 pm

      “that one issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue shapes almost every other issue” So many experts have been coming out saying exactly this. Dr. Zbig, Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, former President Jimmy Carter, former CIA analyst (one after another), General’s etc etc. This is the issue that shapes almost every other issue in the middle east

  2. lysias
    December 18, 2012, 11:05 am

    If memory serves, Biden said similar things about the need to negotiate with Iran while he was still in the Senate.

    • Kathleen
      December 18, 2012, 7:57 pm

      Hell Biden just said similar things during the debates. Said that all of this attack Iran was “loose” and I believe he said “dangerous” talk. “do you want another war?” he asked Ryan.

      • lysias
        December 19, 2012, 3:25 pm

        Glad to learn that. I skipped that debate.

      • Kathleen
        December 19, 2012, 8:15 pm

        Biden ripped on the idea of militarily attacking Iran. “loose talk” Dangerous talk. Biden was great in that debate.

  3. pabelmont
    December 18, 2012, 11:33 am

    Hagel is an eminently sensible man. Hope he gets a hearing. Thanks, so much Phil, for bringing this man and this speech to our attention.

    From 6.5 B people to 8B. Water, energy, food. The human condition. (He didn’t mention the elephant in the room, climate change.) (Either, I imagine, do Israel’s far-seeing and water-thirsty leaders.)

    It is a mystery to me how he thinks regularizing USA/Iran relations can help with I/P — perhaps as a way of telling Israel that it is not the only kid at the birthday party — but it makes a very happy change to hear someone talking about Iran and NOT talking about sanctions (and not talking about nukes as if they were the horrible-of-horribles when Iran controls them, although not if the Israeli militarists control them).

    NB: I say “Israeli militarists” because Israel (more even than the USA) is a quintessentially militarist country, controlled by its militarists which have sometimes seized control from the civilian government. Read “Fortress Israel” by Patrick Tyler.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      December 18, 2012, 4:12 pm

      Iran can help broker a settlement because it has influence over Hamas and Hezbollah and can bring them on board. When Hagel says that Iran must be accepted as a reality, he is implying the same thing about Hamas.

    • Citizen
      December 18, 2012, 6:02 pm

      “It is a mystery to me how he thinks regularizing USA/Iran relations can help with I/P ”

      Maybe you should google “balance of power”? Such a strange concept for the American government these days, when it comes to the Middle East. So, pabelmont, did you actually read Phil’s quoted slice of Hagel’s POV? And throw in what Petraeus has said on the “special relationship” with Israel as it pertains to US vulnerability in the Middle East. Not what he told the special congressional committee on CSPAN, but what he intentionally left as his official finding on paper at his feet (in his briefcase) there while testifying.

    • Kathleen
      December 19, 2012, 6:49 am

      Pabelmont Stephen Walt focused on Walt on Dec 14th over at Foreign Policy “The Top Five Reasons Obama should pick Hagel For SecDef” a real zinger. And one more since then “The Art of Smear/” Walt and “bloody
      Bill Kristol are having a war with words.

      Over at Antiwar.com Justin Raimando has a couple of pieces up about Hagel and the I lobby “Chuck Hagel: An Unconventional Realist” and “The Paranoid style of the Israel Lobby” Sorry unable to link

  4. gingershot
    December 18, 2012, 12:08 pm

    I think the Antiwar vote will be going for Hagel in 2016 over Hillary – just like it went to Barak 2008 over Hillary, who ran as a ‘Netantahu-Democrat’ to the right of McCain on foreign policy

    How do I know this? – because that’s what I’m going to do as an ‘Independent’

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 18, 2012, 3:37 pm

      RE: “I think the Antiwar vote will be going for Hagel in 2016 over Hillary . . .” ~ gingershot

      MY REPLY: There is no way in hell that I will vote to return the Clintons to the White House! ! !
      I prefer the Green Party, but I might be willing to vote for Hagel (even if he runs as a Republican).

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Haim Saban]:

      (EXCERPTS) . . . Saban has been a generous and consistent donor to the United States Democratic Party according to his mandatory Federal Election Commission filings. Mother Jones, in an analysis of the major donors to the campaigns of 1998 election cycle, ranked Saban 155th among individual donors.[21] Amy Paris noted that Saban’s Clinton-era “generosity did not go unrewarded. During the Clinton administration, the entertainment executive served on the President’s Export Council, advising the White House on trade issues.”[21] The New York Times reported that Haim and his wife “slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms.” Saban remains close friends to the former President. Clinton described Saban as a “very good friend and supporter.”[4] Saban contributed between $5 million to $10 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation.[22] . . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Haim Saban”, by Matthew Yglesias, The Atlantic, June 10, 2007

      [EXCERPT] If you’re interested in the foreign policy views [Link - J.L.D.] of major Hillary Clinton financial backer Haim Saban [Link - J.L.D.] [who is also a "funder of the Democratic Party" - J.L.D.], there’s no need to follow the Atrios path of attempting guilt by association with Kenneth Pollack.
      He [Saban] discussed his views on the Middle East and Persian Gulf region in great detail in a reasonably recent interview with ‘Haaretz’:
      When I see Ahmadinejad, I see Hitler. They speak the same language. His motivation is also clear: the return of the Mahdi is a supreme goal. And for a religious
      person of deep self-persuasion, that supreme goal is worth the liquidation of five and a half million Jews.
      We cannot allow ourselves that. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a religious leadership that is convinced that the annihilation of Israel will bring about the emergence of a new Muslim caliphate? Israel cannot allow that. This is no game. It’s truly an existential danger.” . . .

      SOURCE – link to theatlantic.com

      • DICKERSON3870
        December 18, 2012, 3:48 pm

        P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “Haim Saban, Bill Clinton to Host Fundraiser for Democratic Convention”, By Ted Johnson, Variety, 5/24/12

        [EXCERPT] President Bill Clinton is headlining a fundraiser to raise money for the Democratic National Convention at the home of longtime Democratic donors Haim and Cheryl Saban.
        The event is raising money for the Committee for Charlotte 2012. According to the invite, tickets are $100,000 per couple, which includes a photo and lunch, as well as a “convention package” of the donor’s choice. One offers two hotel rooms and four credentials, the other offers one “premier uptown hotel room” and two “premier credentials.” Other tickets to the lunch go for $50,000 and $25,000, offering credentials to the convention. . .

        SOURCE – link to wilshireandwashington.com

    • Kathleen
      December 18, 2012, 7:59 pm

      Totally. That is what I have been saying…I would vote for Hagel before Hillary in a heartbeat.

    • Kathleen
      December 18, 2012, 8:09 pm

      Hagel would have a hell of a time getting through the tea baggers.

      • gingershot
        December 18, 2012, 9:34 pm

        Kathleen – he’s written that he’s interested in a 3rd party – maybe something magical could happen

        Hagel seems to have some creative 3rd party ideas and has even broached a ‘bipartisan unity ticket’

        Hagel’s floated the idea of a new political party – in Hagel’s book, “America: Our Next Chapter,” he wrote that the U.S. may need another political party to face future challenges.

      • lysias
        December 19, 2012, 3:23 pm

        I think Hagel would have a chance of winning if he ran third-party. And he would certainly run a credible enough campaign to force the Democratic candidate to move in the peace direction.

  5. seafoid
    December 18, 2012, 12:27 pm

    This is powerful
    Garry Wills on guns as the God Moloch

    link to nybooks.com

    but Zionism also demands child sacrifices and also qualifies

  6. gingershot
    December 18, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Walt has a new article up at Foreign Policy – on Bill Kristol using Walt’s previous supportive article on Hagel as part of the ongoing Neocon smear

    It’s entitled ‘The art of the smear’ and focuses on Bill Kristol

    link to walt.foreignpolicy.com

    • Kathleen
      December 18, 2012, 9:41 pm

      yep referred and directed folks over there earlier quite the back and forth

  7. Keith
    December 18, 2012, 12:44 pm

    PHIL- “We’ve already picked up Hagel’s 2010 comments, all but ruling out war with Iran.”

    In case you haven’t noticed, between the covert operations, sanctions, diplomatic and financial harassment, we are at war with Iran. It is one step above low intensity conflict. Is Hagel going to terminate the covert operations or end the sanctions? By redefining “war” as sending in the Marines, you are trying to have your cake and eat it too. Besides, all of this is nothing but talk. I see no evidence that the US has abandoned its goal of regime change in Iran and Syria. What would convince me of meaningful change? How about a nuclear free Middle East, including Israel and the US?

    As for the 2008 speech, first of all it was given in 2008, before current policy was implemented, hence, subject to considerable revision. Second, I almost gagged on Hagel’s blatant hypocrisy. He is an imperialist to the core.

    • David Green
      December 19, 2012, 11:44 am

      link to c-spanvideo.org

      This little address will gag you with a spoon. Enjoy oldies but goodies like:

      THAT NATO ALLIANCE, THEY MEMBERSHIP MADE A TREMENDOUS VALDATION TO THOSE NEW DEMOCRACIES BECAUSE YES IT GAVE THEM THE IMPRIM TOUR OF NATO AND SECURITY SELECTION.

      The talk about Hagel is Obama playing his “base” for suckers. Not a hard thing to do, if MW is any evidence.

      Hagel has a few decent ideas. They will come to nothing as Defense Secretary. The war with Iran has a foundation in USFP that will not be shaken.

      The same for Israel, of course. When push comes to shove, Hagel doesn’t give squat for the Palestinians.

      • Keith
        December 19, 2012, 5:44 pm

        DAVID GREEN- Because you provided the link, I forced myself to watch all 26 minutes of Hagel’s speech, no easy task. It was pure bread and butter from a professional bureaucrat. Anyone who bases their worldview on crap like this will be seriously misinformed. I can only wonder if he believes his own BS.

        All of this talk about Hagel brings up what I consider a fundamental weakness about discussions on Mondoweiss, namely that the role and power of government is significantly overemphasized. Although most seem to understand that the US is a capitalist country, they don’t seem to perceive the full implications of this on the political economy. So much hand wringing over what some politician says, so little concern over the Council on Foreign Relations and all of the institutions of private power which shape domestic and foreign policy. In many ways, the government is but the public face of private power. Of course, Modoweiss isn’t alone in this regard. Most discussions of current reality are merely the logical defense of a particular ideological bias, frequently at odds with empirical reality. Even on the radical left I see little understanding of how the system actually functions.

      • David Green
        December 20, 2012, 10:16 am

        “Even on the radical left I see little understanding of how the system actually functions.”

        But that takes a lot of work, and a willingness not to personify the system with the views of individuals, especially politicians (like Hagel).

  8. American
    December 18, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Why can’t the US have a Hagel or a fair policy on I/P?
    We know why, because of foreign agents like this who have infiltrated almost ever aspect of the US and literally run US foreign policy …they must be removed:

    link to democraticwhip.gov

    Hoyer 2003 Speech to AIPAC

    “..There are some who believe we must have an even hand in dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues. I do not.”

    And while congress seeks ways to cut programs for Americans in the US……

    link to jta.org

    Congress wants to increase allocations to Israeli missile programs
    December 12, 2012

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — Congress wants to at least double the Obama administration’s funding request for anti-missile cooperation with Israel.

    Obama asked Congress for $99.9 million in 2013 for “Israel co-operative programs,” which include programs like the long-range Arrow anti-missile system and the short-range David’s Sling.

    The U.S. House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed earlier this year, recommended adding $168 million to that request, and the Senate recommended adding $100 million in its own National Defense Authorization Act, passed last week.

    A letter sent Wednesday by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to the top senators on the Armed Services Committee urges them to agree to the higher House increase in the bicameral conference talks that finalize the act.

    In Israel, Steny Hoyer promises, US financial crisis won’t cut our aid …
    mondoweiss.net/…/in-israel-steny-hoyer-promises-us-financial-crisis-…Cached

    Aug 12, 2011 – The current economic crisis in the US will have no impact on US … Hoyer said he did not believe America’s financial challenges would have “any …

    BTTTFG

  9. American
    December 18, 2012, 1:35 pm

    Anyone who follows the realist on FP like Walt, Ziggie,Freeman and others should know it’s in the best interest of the US to bring Iran into our circle. For reasons besides the I/P problem. Iran is the center of influence for the Shia, which is it’s majority, it is also the Shia now controlling Iraq, the war in Syria?…Syria is also a Shia state and this rebellion is not a’ popular people’s revolt’ but rebels made of up primarily Sunnis who want to establish an AQ ‘flavor’ of Sunni rulership.
    If the US is going to meddle the ME it should be meddling, as a mediator or wall in the Shia-Sunni wars. ..between the Saudi, the main Sunni regional influencer and Iran, the main Shia regional influencer.
    But see we can’t have a fucking policy that makes sense because our policy is made by fucking delusional idiotic zionist who in their dreams of Israel ruling the world think the US can overturn countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria and install US-Israel friendly dictators like we use to.
    Well, this isn’t the old days….the Shia and Sunnis are still fighting in Iraq….the Sunni rebels in Syria are beheading their captives..link to independent.co.uk
    So assuming the Syrian rebels win…there’s the kind of AQ related-Sunni government Syria will have.
    What is so funny, is that Israel and the zios, because of what and who Syria’s rebels are dominated by , are now worried about these unintended consequences of their little CB plan to topple Iraq, Syria, Iran like domino’s..it’s not exactly working out because the US isn’t ending up in “control” of these ‘revolts’ and if Syria turns out like Iraq, it will have ZERO control over whoever rules Syria either.
    How stupid are the zionist? ..well they saw what happened in Iraq, they never got their pipeline or their wish of Jordain family related ruler installed in Iraq……….now they are seeing Syria most likely go down the tubes to the very extremist they most fear….so are the learning yet?…Nope.
    All zionist know how to do is double down on creating chaos, taking out their supposed enemies, create more chaos, keep going after Iran…. thinking the US superpower will find a way to make it all come out in their favor in the end.
    Well odds are that is not going to happen. Two out of three have failed…the third will not be a charm either.

  10. seanmcbride
    December 18, 2012, 1:49 pm

    Wouldn’t it be very much in the American interest to develop amicable relations with Iran, which, from a strategic standpoint, is one of the most important nations in the Middle East and the world? And wouldn’t it also be a good idea to begin talks to remove *all* nuclear weapons from the Middle East — including Israel’s?

    The latest update on who precisely is trying to sabotage a possible Hagel nomination for SecDef:

    1. Adam Kredo
    2. AEI (American Enterprise Institute)
    3. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
    4. Alana Goodman
    5. Bret Stephens
    6. Caroline Glick
    7. Center for American Freedom
    8. Commentary Magazine
    9. Daniel Greenfield
    10. Debbie Schlussel
    11. ECI (Emergency Committee for Israel)
    12. Ed Koch
    13. Frontpage Magazine
    14. Gil Troy
    15. Ira Forman
    16. Jeff Dunetz (Yid with Lid)
    17. Jennifer Rubin
    18. Josh Block
    19. Matt Brooks
    20. Michael Rubin
    21. Morris Amitay
    22. Morton Klein
    23. Nathaniel Botwinick
    24. National Review
    25. Noah Silverman
    26. NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council)
    27. Open Zion
    28. Pamela Geller
    29. Paul Mirengoff
    30. Philip Klein
    31. Power Line
    32. Rick Richman
    33. RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition)
    34. The Israel Project
    35. Times of Israel
    36. Washington Free Beacon
    37. Weekly Standard
    38. William Kristol
    39. ZOA (Zionist Organization of America)

    Regarding the role of the RJC in this coordinated campaign of attacks on Hagel: one would expect Republicans to welcome the appointment of a Republican to high-level cabinet post in the Obama administration. But RJC members are more loyal to Israel than they are to their own political party (or to their own country, for that matter).

    There is more coverage of the Hagel controversy here:

    link to friendfeed.com

    • seanmcbride
      December 18, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Add Abraham Foxman and the ADL to the list of “pro-Israel activists” attacking Chuck Hagel:

      “EXCLUSIVE: ADL pans possible Chuck Hagel pick”
      link to washingtonpost.com

      Foxman speaks:

      Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice for the American Jewish community’s friends of Israel. His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling. The sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former president Jimmy Carter.”

    • seanmcbride
      December 19, 2012, 12:53 am

      The Washington Post demonstrates once again that it has essentially morphed into a political and propaganda arm of the Israeli government by joining the coordinated attack on Chuck Hagel:

      “Chuck Hagel is not the right choice for defense secretary”

      link to washingtonpost.com

      (Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl are probably playing key roles in pushing this line.)

      • lysias
        December 19, 2012, 3:24 pm

        And did you notice on the op-ed page, facing the editorial page, there is a column by Dana Milbank, of all people, that defends Hagel (in particular, from the charges of anti-Semitism)?

  11. biorabbi
    December 18, 2012, 3:01 pm

    While Mr. Hagel talks a good talk about the power of the Jewish Lobby, bringing on America’s misfortune in world relations. Why not ask Gene Wilder to reanimate Charles Lindberg or Father Couglin and get a real American Firster. After all, Hagel is just a pale imitation. Maybe Pat Buchanan? Just saying.

  12. DICKERSON3870
    December 18, 2012, 3:29 pm

    ● RE: “Chuck Hagel . . . called for making a ‘security gift’ to Iran and all-but normalizing relations with the country so as to get its help in solving the Israel-Palestine issue.” ~ Weiss

    ● MY COMMENT: And “solving the Israel-Palestine issue” is what the neocons are determined to prevent!

    ● SEE – “Chuck Hagel: An Unconventional Realist”, By Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, 12/17/12
    Why the Israel lobby hates him — and why we need him at DoD
    LINK – link to original.antiwar.com

    ● P.S. TO “LIKE” CHUCK HAGEL ON FACEBOOK - link to facebook.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 18, 2012, 3:35 pm

      RE: “And ‘solving the Israel-Palestine issue’ is what the neocons are determined to prevent!” ~ me (above)

      FOR INSTANCE, FROM ELLIOTT ABRAMS, The Washington (Neocon) Post, 04/08/09:

      [EXCERPT] . . . Is current and recent settlement construction creating insurmountable barriers to peace? A simple test shows that it is not. Ten years ago, in the Camp David talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap to make up half of the 6 percent Israel would keep. According to news reports, just three months ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 93 percent, with a one-to-one land swap. In the end, under the January 2009 offer, Palestinians would have received an area equal to 98 to 98.5 percent of the West Bank (depending on which press report you read), while 10 years ago they were offered 97 percent. Ten years of settlement activity would have resulted in a larger area for the Palestinian state. . .

      SOURCE – link to washingtonpost.com

      P.S. Elliott Abrams has totally convinced me [by the sheer power of his (il)logic and his very impressive math skills] to wholeheartedly support the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank.
      As I understand it, the ‘Abrams Principle’ stands for the proposition that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state. That’s why I say: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with the settlement actvity; so as to result in the largest Palestinian state possible (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River). Fiat justitia! ( “Let Justice Be Done!” )

  13. Jeff Klein
    December 18, 2012, 5:17 pm

    WND is apparently test-marketing another approach to stirring up the wingnuts against Hagel without even mentioning Israel — that he is an internationalist intent on taxing Americans to send more money to the “Third World”. And in an article by virtual — if not actual — Israeli agent Aaron Klein (no relation!) written from Jerusalem. . .

    • Kathleen
      December 18, 2012, 9:24 pm

      flushing them out…screaming and undermining all the way. When Hagel would more than likely be the best friend Israel could ever have because he is willing to tell the truth about these issues

  14. Kathleen
    December 18, 2012, 5:59 pm

    Back and forth from Kristol at Weekly Standard to Stephen Walt and then Walt “The Art of the Smear” at Foreign Policy back to Kristol on the Hagel nomination and who is and is not an anti-semite

  15. Citizen
    December 18, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Yeah, and it’s been over 4 years since Hagel said all that, and what did Obama do? Made his Cairo speech (which echoed Hagel) and then put it in the closet, where it has yet to come out. Think Obama will drag it out of the closet when he needs Congress to finish his domestic projects for his legacy? I don’t. We will soon see. I hear Obama’s favors Kerry, not Hagel. David Axelrod will decide, as usual.

  16. Prof.Taheri
    December 18, 2012, 6:43 pm

    The details of an Israeli attack on Iran are revealed in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning book, “Palestine,” in which actual history and future predictions are thinly veiled as fiction.

  17. Kathleen
    December 18, 2012, 9:25 pm

    Hagel “engagement is not appeasement, diplomacy is not weakness” said very similar things at the 2009 World Affairs conference in Boulder 2009. Hagel is the individual for the job.

  18. Kathleen
    December 18, 2012, 10:06 pm

    All of the MSM talking heads were talking about the attacks on Susan Rice’s nomination not hearing a peep out of Chris Matthews or any of the so called liberal host on MSNBC about the attacks on Hagel possibly being nominated. Matthews used to have Kristol on his show before the invasion then not so much and has more recently been kissing Kristol and Podheretz’s asses. Wonder if any of the liberal MSNBC host will bring up how Hagel is being attacked by the I lobby folks

    • lysias
      December 20, 2012, 10:04 am

      GE is a big defense contractor.

      Susan Rice is not exactly antiwar. With my own eyes and ears, I witnessed her defending the Kosovo War at an Oxford alumni gathering in New York shortly after Bill Clinton left office.

  19. Qualtrough
    December 19, 2012, 7:43 am

    Seriously folks, where is this idea that Obama will pick Hagel coming from? Ask yourselves, is there anything in the President’s record that suggests he would pick someone with anything other than a near perfect approval rating from AIPAC? Wishful thinking, but it will NEVER happen. How many campaign promises does he have to break, how many times do you have to get burned, before you realize that when push comes to shove Obama is not going to rock any boats, especially when it comes to the Middle East.

  20. Les
    December 19, 2012, 8:37 am

    Chuck Hagel Nomination Possibility Faces Backlash On Capitol Hill

    Washington Post says Hagel “not the right choice”

    link to huffingtonpost.com

  21. ToivoS
    December 19, 2012, 4:11 pm

    There is a petition to the Whitehouse supporting Hagel for SOD. Perhaps this has been posted before but if you haven’t seen this:

    link to petitions.whitehouse.gov

  22. Joseph Glatzer
    December 19, 2012, 6:14 pm

    Some of the other commentors seem a little naive to me. Hagel in his own words is a supporter of Israel and firmly supports the 2 state solution. This is a racist solution which was never acceptable to anyone with any sense of fairness and morality, and which has long been made impossible by Israeli colonization and annexation of the West Bank. So, aside from the rhetoric and the idea of engaging Hamas and Iran, etc; what is the difference in his position and AIPAC and every racist liberal Zionist? This is my running theme when everyone gets so excited over such people: distinguish that person’s position from that of Israeli racists.

    Furthermore, this is only a reflection of how pathetically right wing and pro-Israel America is, that someone who is actually trying to save Israel from a realistic perspective is considered a Pro-Palestine hero. We need to get a grip, folks. Anyone who is pushing the “2 state solution” (Indian reservations / bantustans for Palestinians) is part of the problem, not the answer.

    • James Canning
      December 22, 2012, 2:31 pm

      What is “racist” about the two-state solution? All Arab countries agree to accept Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

  23. gingershot
    December 19, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Here’s a petition I just signed in support of Hagel for Sec Defense – it was linked thru Politico and Antiwar.com

    Stand up to the smear brigade, sign the White House petition in support of Chuck Hagel – be #246 ( I was #245)

    link to wh.gov

    you have to give your email, ‘name’, and click a verification notice sent to your mailbox. (otherwise known as ‘opening an account’ – it just takes 30 secs)

  24. piotr
    December 22, 2012, 3:04 am

    American: how stupid are the Zionists?

    Piotr: they come in many flavors, some of which seem quite stupid. This is an exchange of comments in Times of Israel:

    Beth Dwoskin
    And after the US stops supporting Israel, who will?

    Reply · · December 17 at 4:42pm
    psalm118o8 (signed in using yahoo)
    Beth Dwoskin – The Creator of the Universe, you clueless pagan. He’s running the show not the latest collapsing Empire.

    Interestingly, some rabbinical authorities have quite a bit to say on the subject, and I think they would side with Beth Dwoskin rather than psalm11808. I have no religious education so I rely on press accounts. About 6 month ago the State of Texas was affected by a very severe drought and the Governor organized prayers for rain which were not successful. In the aftermath Texas Monthly interviewed members of Texan clergy from various denominations. A rabbi explained a concept of “provoking a miracle” which is a sin. Accordingly, in Jewish tradition prayers for rain would be conducted only in the seasons with reasonable chances for rain. Given obvious differences between the climate of Texas and the Holy Land, the correct analogy woud be to precede prayers with some investigation if there is any chance for rain. Of course, God, being Almighty, can deliver rain contrary to all we know about meteorology, but it is an impiety to make such a request.

    • NickJOCW
      December 22, 2012, 5:23 pm

      When Apollo 8 was on the brink of disaster Nixon asked the American people to pray and it appeared to work.

  25. James Canning
    December 22, 2012, 2:29 pm

    The US should have restored normal relations with Iran years ago. And resumed direct NYC-Tehran flights. Years ago. Bravo. Great piece.

  26. NickJOCW
    December 23, 2012, 2:08 am

    I am most grateful to Phil for sharing this. Men like Hagel see both the trees and the wood They are not often chosen for high office because their perceptions strip away illusions, and distress many by inviting them to face a mirror.

  27. mcohen
    December 25, 2012, 6:58 am

    iranian nuclear weapons would pose a direct threat to america but not israel .israeli leaders are like barking dogs on a leash putting pressure on iran .iran armed with nuclear weapons could protect its oil fields from takeover by the west and at the same time control the dwindling resources to the detriment of the west.
    the stakes are high because israel is using the settlements as payment for services rendered to the west in relation to iran-the barking dog needs to be fed so to speak

    there are only 2 ways out
    1.israel is overrun by sunni muslim jihadis and neutralized with the help of the west as has happened in libya and syria thereby giving america a way out of its israel problem and cementing its ties with the saudis
    2.america is attacked with nuclear weapons and neutralized by an israeli /iranian alliance with chinese backing which would then allow the israeli /iranian alliance to attack saudi/gulf state oil supplies and give china a grip on saudi/gulf state oil
    fields

    the board has changed to green /red from black/ white

    perhaps red knight to horn of africa

    • James Canning
      December 25, 2012, 1:42 pm

      The “West” does not seek to control Iran’s oilfields.

      Israel uses the nuclear dispute to distract attention in “the West” from Israel’s insane colonisation programme in the West Bank.

Leave a Reply