Obama taps Hagel with combative speech– following outreach to AIPAC

Israel/Palestine
on 121 Comments
Hagel and Obama in Amman 2008 Paul Richards AFP
Hagel and Obama in Amman 2008 Paul Richards AFP

Update: President Obama just nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Obama’s speech was combative. It emphasized Hagel’s military service, his injuries in Vietnam, and said that Hagel was his choice because he could work with those on the ground, “the guy at the bottom, who’s doing the fighting and the dying.” Obama repeatedly struck an assertive tone as if daring neoconservative chicken hawks to criticize Hagel. Hagel said as little as was possible… Obama’s memorable lines:

Maybe most importantly, Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction.  He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary.  “My frame of reference,” he has said, is “geared towards the guy at the bottom who’s doing the fighting and the dying.”  With Chuck, our troops will always know, just like Sergeant Hagel was there for his own brother, Secretary Hagel will be there for you.

The media are all reporting that President Obama has chosen Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Update: From ABC:

Obama will nominate former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense at a formal White House announcement later today, administration officials said. 

The media are generally lukewarm on the pick; Martha Raddatz and George Stephanopoulos agree there’s no guarantee the nomination will be approved, many predict a battle from Republicans. The good news is that the Israel angle is getting a lot of play, even if the reporters aren’t being very straightforward about the lobby’s role. Though Slate’s Fred Kaplan is very straightforward: Criticism of Israel is the third rail in our foreign policy.

And notice thoughout the coverage that the White House and its friends are pushing back, saying that Hagel loves Israel. The White House preempted AIPAC’s potential opposition by lobbying it, according to Jeffrey Goldberg on twitter:

Sources tell me White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew called AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr last week to argue case for Chuck Hagel. White House lobbying of AIPAC may explain why group is not going great guns so far against Hagel nomination.

A quick roundup:

Chuck Todd at NBC says that Republicans don’t like Hagel because he flipped on the Iraq war, and that Democrats don’t like him because he’s another Republican in the Pentagon. Horse feathers; that’s not why ten Democratic Senators are against Hagel, per Todd. Though Todd does mention Israel: 

The nut of Hagel fight: There are two basic lines of attack against Hagel. One has to do with whether he’s a true ally of Israel. Detractors point to some votes Hagel made when it came to Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as some votes on Iran sanctions. But supporters of Hagel note he always voted in favor of full funding of Israel aid and did sign on to key pieces of legislation that did target Iran’s nuclear program and did target Hamas.

In fact, we’ve heard that as many as 10 DEMOCRATIC senators might be “no” votes on Hagel, or they at least start out as “no” on Hagel. So Hagel will have a lot of work to do

LA Times says that conservatives denounce the pick. But the piece puts the Israel angle high:

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of Defense toward the state of Israel in our nation’s history” and called his pick by President Obama an “in-your-face nomination.” …

Hagel, although a Republican, is viewed with suspicion by many in his party for past comments he has made calling on Israel to negotiate with Palestinians and for his opposition to some sanctions aimed at Iran.

Imagine: he called for Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians! The Palestinians as the Taliban. The piece includes major pushback from Israel supporters:

[Aaron David] Miller, who had interviewed Hagel for a book he was writing on the Mideast peace negotiations, wrote recently that attempts to use [Hagel’s quoted] comment about the “Jewish lobby” to paint Hagel as anti-Semitic were “shameful and scurrilous.” He noted that in the same interview Hagel also stressed “shared values and the importance of Israeli security.”

Supporters say Hagel showed his support for Israel by voting repeatedly to provide it with military aid and by calling for a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians that should not include any compromise regarding Israel’s Jewish identity and that would leave Israel “free to live in peace and security.” They note that he also supported three major Iran sanctions bills:

You can see more of this effort in Steve Clemons’s piece yesterday, where he defends Hagel from an “anti-Israel bias” and writes that Hagel was a “gift from God” to the American USO operation in Israel some years ago.

On National Public Radio this morning, Tom Bowman and Steve Inskeep can’t mention the Israel angle till 1:47 in their report. Bowman notes that the White House is pushing back to say that Hagel is pro-Israel. “A friend of Israel,” per Dan Kurtzer. And Bowman says that Hagel would be the first Defense Secretary whose military experience is as “a grunt,” not an officer, and this would make him less likely to go to war. Gosh.

Cokie Roberts is cool on Hagel, likens him to former DefSec-nominee, the late Sen. John Tower, being rejected as an alcoholic and womanizer! Roberts is all inside-baseball–

He’s rubbed some of his fellow senators the wrong way… It can backfire if to know a senator is not to love him. And that apparently is the case with some senators and Chuck Hagel

Till she has to look at the Israel angle, and misleads her listeners:

You have to keep in mind, that when someone is accused of being anti-Israel, as some have said about Hagel, that that becomes an issue in the evangelical community, which is of course very pro-Israel and of course the base of the Republican Party.

I really don’t think Christian Zionists are pushing this effort– not the Republican Party of Dan Senor, the Republican Jewish Coalition and Sheldon Adelson. Are Senators really worried that a pro-Hagel vote will hurt them with evangelicals?

Speaking of Sheldon and his ilk, Roberts mentions a second, full-page anti-Hagel ad from Log Cabin Republicans in the Washington Post about Hagel’s anti-gay slurs. But she can’t mention what Glenn Greenwald says, What donor is behind these ads? Surely the Israel lobby.

New York Times calls Hagel a “lightning rod” and quotes an anonymous administration official saying the nomination will go through and “It  would be hard to explain a no vote just because he bucked his party on Iraq, a war most Americans think was a disaster.” Good point.
 
The Times saves the Israel angle for the second page, but speaks of a Jewish lobby:
 
For weeks, some Jewish groups sought to dissuade Mr. Obama from choosing Mr. Hagel, who once referred to advocates of Israel as “the Jewish lobby.” Having failed, opponents over the weekend shifted to trying to block Mr. Hagel’s confirmation.
 
Regional chapters of the American Jewish Committee, which has bipartisan bona fides, began circulating letters to their Democratic senators, urging them to oppose Mr. Hagel.

One such letter, obtained by The New York Times, said: “While AJC recognizes Senator Hagel’s record of service to our country and the people of Nebraska, his opinions on a range of core U.S. national security priorities run counter to what AJC advocates and what President Obama has articulated — notably, on the efficacy of Iran sanctions, on a credible military option against Iran, on branding Hezbollah as terrorist organization, and on the special nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Mr. Hagel and his supporters have dismissed criticism of his views on Israel, noting that he voted on several occasions to provide billions of dollars in military aid to the country.

Notice again the pushback that Hagel loves Israel. So much for sanctions against settlements… Later there’s this caution about whether Hagel would want to go to war against Iran, making the political red lines clear. You’ve got to be for war! The blind source kind of sounds like Dennis Ross, doesn’t it?  

 As secretary of defense, Mr. Hagel would not be directly involved in designing or enforcing those sanctions; that is the work of the Treasury and State Departments. But he would be in charge of one of the other major elements of pressure: the huge buildup of American naval might, antimissile capability and special operations in the Persian Gulf. That force is intended not only to keep the Strait of Hormuz open but also to make credible Mr. Obama’s threat to use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

“So far, Obama’s big problem is that the threat to use force has not seemed credible,” a former official who has worked on Iran issues with Mr. Hagel and frequently advises the administration on Iran said last week. “The question is whether if Chuck is defense secretary, the Iranians would take seriously the thought that he is willing to use force if it comes to that.”  

Fred Kaplan at Slate is for Hagel. This is an excellent piece. Kaplan says Obama and Hagel were right about the disastrous Iraq war, and Hagel has the honesty to talk about the “bugaboo… the third rail” in foreign policy, Israel. Kaplan wisely dispenses with the anti-Semitism claim against Hagel on the “Jewish lobby” quote by pointing out, Hey, the lobby calls itself the representatives of Jews:

It’s also true that Hagel isn’t keen on going to war with Iran. Two things here: First, the same is true of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and most of the American people… On the issue of military force, Hagel is more dovish than many Republicans and perhaps some Democrats. He opposed the Iraq war, but so did Obama (then an Illinois state senator), and, as is clearer now than ever, they were right…

But the bugaboo issue—the third rail when it comes to foreign policy—is Israel. As a senator, Hagel once complained to a reporter that “the Jewish lobby” intimidates many lawmakers on Capitol Hill. And he once intoned that he was a senator from Nebraska, not a senator from Israel. These may have been impolitic remarks, but they weren’t false—either in strict substance or in spirit. No one could deny that AIPAC has an overpowering influence on many lawmakers.

Hagel’s sin, in the eyes of some, was to call it the “Jewish lobby” instead of the “Israel lobby.” If this is a sin, AIPAC and its allies have brought it on themselves. For decades, they have thundered that criticism of Israel is thinly disguised anti-Semitism. Yet they cry “anti-Semitism” again when someone inverts the equation (which is what the phrase in question amounts to: If anti-Israel equals anti-Jewish, then pro-Israel equals pro-Jewish). As for saying that he’s a senator from Nebraska, not Israel: Had he or any other senator said this about any other country (“I’m not a senator from France … England … Canada” or wherever), no one would have batted an eye. To accuse him of anti-Semitism on these grounds is to reveal a staggeringly deep paranoia—or a sensitivity far too acute to be allowed any role in American politics.

So this is the third rail in foreign policy? And it reflects paranoia on the part of empowered Jews? This is what I’ve always wanted: smart mainstream journalists taking on the lobby. I believe Kaplan’s wife Brooke Gladstone will at last address the question forthrightly on her influential NPR show, On the Media. She should explain why the White House felt a need to lobby AIPAC and did so using a chief of staff who the Jewish press brags is Orthodox Jewish. Notice that Chuck Todd at NBC teed up the same issue when he wrote that “the Jewish lobby” term “is offensive to both pro-Israel supporters and Jews who do not like to be lumped in with the AIPAC’s of the world.” Well those Jews who don’t want to be lumped with the AIPAC’s of the world have to speak up, like Fred Kaplan. 

Jeffrey Goldberg agrees with Jim Lobe. AIPAC is going to sit this one out rather than suit up and lose:

The administration is worried most about AIPAC — it does not generally pay attention to the editorials of The Weekly Standard — and its emissaries have been working overtime to ensure AIPAC’s quiescence. I could obviously be wrong, and information may come out in confirmation hearings that makes it impossible for AIPAC to sideline itself, but my guess at this moment is that the AIPAC will not mount a significant campaign on the Hill.

Robert Reich doesn’t dare talk about the Israel angle. From Grant Smith of IRMEP, in our comments section yesterday:

Today Robert Reich, on the George Stephanopoulos Sunday yak show, wondered why Obama would expend political capital on confirmation, but wouldn’t touch the Israel lobby angle that George laid out on the table. A few moments later, Reich launched into an in-depth analysis of the NRA’s “modus-operandi” to keep gun-control issues off the table.

As Phil previously noted, Reich’s approach to the Israel lobby is “affected ignorance.” This time in service to the anti-Hagel drive.

Smith linked to a post of last year in which I wrote, “Robert Reich pretends he’s stupid,” when Reich discussed Sheldon Adelson’s agenda without saying a word about Israel. This type of evasion is going to make people mad, and, tragically, make them mad at Jews– which is why I am grateful to Fred Kaplan and MJ Rosenberg for their forthrightness about the Jewish lobby issue. 

Some of that populist anger is evident at UPI.com, where Arnaud de Borchgrave speaks bluntly about the “Jewish lobby.” A reminder of the fact that the lobby overplayed its hand and got smacked on Iran:

The Hagel controversy is all about Israel and the far-right Likud party agenda — and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s barely concealed hostility toward U.S. President Barack Obama and contempt for Hagel.

The AIPAC-orchestrated campaign via its neo-conservative yeomanry is now the hot favorite among odds-makers. But then there is the unknown among unknowns — and the unknown unknowns

It is still AIPAC vs. Obama and the odds-on favorite? AIPAC.

I’ll update this post as the day goes on.
Update: Sullivan says this is about accountability for the Iraq war disaster, before naming the lobby:

Unlike so many of the lemmings and partisans of Washington DC, Hagel actually called out the catastrophe of the Iraq War as it happened. The neocons cannot forgive him for exposing what they wrought on the nation and the world. For good measure, he has a Purple Heart and has served in combat. Not easy to say about most of the Iraq War armchair warriors and war criminals.

Which is to say, as Chuck Todd said this morning, this nomination is about accountability for the Iraq War. All those ducking responsibility for the calamity – Abrams, Kristol, Stephens – are determined that those of us honest enough to resist, having supported in the first place, be erased from history. Or smeared as anti-Semites. Or given that epithet which impresses them but baffles me: “outside the mainstream”. Rephrase that as – after initial support – being “outside the Iraq War mainstream” in DC – and you have a major reason to back him…

And that is the real opportunity of this nomination. At the hearings, we can see McCain’s vision versus Hagel’s, and see the difference between a man who refuses to adjust his global mindset after Iraq and a man who has had the strength and character to do so. So many Americans are likely to agree with Hagel over military restraint, diplomatic patience, and cutting defense bloat. The reason the Greater Israel lobby is in such a froth is that the weakness of their arguments could be publicly exposed – by a Republican. And there isn’t enough AIPAC money and intimidation to stop that happening.

Update: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: Hagel Is The Wrong Man For The Job

“I am profoundly concerned and disappointed by President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Recent reporting has made clear that Senator Hagel’s views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally.

“Senator Hagel’s incendiary views of Israel are only the tip of the iceberg…”

Oh and this is funny. Two weeks back Barney Frank said Hagel would be “good” for the job. Then last week Barney Frank flipped against Hagel. Now he flips back. Boston Globe today– on MSNBC Steve Kornacki said this is Frank’s play to be named sitting Massachusetts senator in Kerry’s spot:

Former representative Barney Frank is dialing back his opposition to the pending nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, saying he is willing to look past the Nebraska Republican’s comments about gays because it is more important that his views prevail on drawing down the war in Afghanistan and reducing wasteful defense spending.

“I was hoping the president wouldn’t nominate him,” Frank told the Globe today.

“As much as I regret what Hagel said, and resent what he said, the question now is going to be Afghanistan and scaling back the military,” Frank said. “In terms of the policy stuff, if he would be rejected , it would be a setback for those things.”

Thanks to Annie Robbins and Ilene Cohen.

121 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    January 7, 2013, 12:08 pm

    obama picking hagel today: link to abcnews.go.com

    Obama will nominate former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense at a formal White House announcement later today, administration officials said.

    • Krauss
      January 7, 2013, 3:51 pm

      I just watched Obama’s nomination speech. It was crystal clear that he had the longest, and most thought-out as well as the most beautiful, words for Hagel. Those two truly like each other.

      Nonetheless, what bugs me with this coverage are two things:

      1. A pretension that somehow this is a GOP/Dem debate. As if the problem for Dems with Hagel is that he’s a Republican(or at least used to be) and some reactionary comments made in a different era, an era when Clinton signed the DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

      As Phil notes, the reason why those Dems are against him is because of AIPAC. I’m not sure I buy Goldberg’s spin. I think they want to sink Hagel, but they want to do it under the radar and Goldberg is most likely more than willing to provide cover for them(wouldn’t be the first time).

      This is AIPAC’s best way forward, which is why it is logical to consider that they may want to do it. Keep a low profile in public, leak to your mouthpieces(like Goldberg) that you are keeping out, and enable the media to talk about non-Israeli issues – or in case when it has to be broached, talk about it like Cokie Roberts(e.g. ‘the evangelical base is driving the GOP’ instead of the donors).

      Then, silently build opposition to Hagel, sink him, and leave without a fingerprint. So this coverage by the media, its refusal (except for Fred Kaplan and other greats who dare to speak truth to power) to state as things are, are playing into the AIPAC book. It is simply very hard to trust a known neocon and Israel Firster like Goldberg, who’s a notorious mouthpiece for the lobby, on much anything. Especially something as sensitive as what the strategy of AIPAC is. I doubt they are out of the game.

      • MRW
        January 7, 2013, 5:23 pm

        Krauss: five million active military and vets. Hagel worked for the VA to improve responses to vets during the 80s. There is a whole other contingent here.

        And that floor-sweeper Cokie Roberts is wrong about the Christian Zionists. They’re the ones who send their kids as soldiers. Military families want one of their own taking care of them.

      • jimmy
        January 7, 2013, 8:41 pm

        does anyone read the aipac site here…hilarious

        David Horovitz Discusses Middle East Developments on the Hill

        AIPAC National Rabbinic Symposium

        Inaugural Christian Leadership Summit

        Israeli Journalist Briefs Hill Staff on Gaza Threat

        Israeli General Addresses Hill Staff on Energy Cooperation

        Iran Expert Briefs Hill Staff on Tehran’s Terror Threat

        Join AIPAC

        AIPAC Near You

        Obama Signs Law to Increase Iran Sanctions

        U.S. Issues Exemptions on Iran Sanctions

        New U.S. Rule Targets IRGC

        Senators Express Disappointment to UN on PA Vote

        Senators Warn Abbas to Halt Statehood Bid at U.N.

        Treasury Expands Iran Sanctions

        if it was not for that lobby..iran would be just fine..

        but as they have against the arbs for the past 60 years..

        demonize demonize demonize

        link to aipac.org

        read it and laugh out loud

        nothing bout Hagel though

  2. seanmcbride
    January 7, 2013, 12:11 pm

    Annie,

    How do you like that: we finally won a political battle against the Israel lobby — and Obama showed a bit of spine — cause for a bit of celebration — but not too much.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 7, 2013, 12:33 pm

      i think it’s great, fantastic.

      • hophmi
        January 7, 2013, 5:36 pm

        What did you win? What’s your prize?

      • Qualtrough
        January 8, 2013, 8:10 am

        Thanks for asking Hophmi. I think we ‘won’ the nomination of someone despite strong Zionist opposition. That is a first, so very important. Our prize, hopefully, will be a foreign policy that puts American interests first and foremost. A longshot, but it looks like we may be headed in the right direction.

        P.S. So sorry your pick didn’t make it.

      • Kathleen
        January 8, 2013, 9:47 pm

        Bingo…and hopefully what else we will get is a far more sane foreign policy and defense with Kerry and Hagel. Contact your Reps and Obama let them know there are plenty of us who support this nomination

    • Antidote
      January 7, 2013, 10:56 pm

      “we finally won a political battle against the Israel lobby”

      Since you asked me a few days ago: “what has the Polish Lobby been up to lately?” — congratulations to APAC.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      I’m sure the old geopolitician and Russophobe Zbig who has been pushing the Polish issue for decades, is delighted. His sons are hyperactive in APAC, Hagel their honorary advisor. All bipartisan, of course. You can make a donation here, or on Facebook

      link to apacouncil.info

  3. Dan Crowther
    January 7, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Phil, just make sure you update this post in a few months after Hagel makes the case for War with Iran. How many times can you be duped, bro?

    Barry and the O’s have heightened sanctions on Iran AGAIN, this time with the effort directed at destroying the civilian economy at large, and now he brings in the “reluctant warrior” the guy who “doesn’t want war” and so on. Just utter nonsense. And Hagel and Barry weren’t “right about Iraq” Hagel voted for it, and Barry was in podunk so he casted a meaningless “No” vote. Please someone argue Barry opposed the Iraq War on principle, please someone make that argument….. You want to talk about “affected ignorance” wow-wee!

    • seanmcbride
      January 7, 2013, 12:42 pm

      Dan Crowther,

      Phil, just make sure you update this post in a few months after Hagel makes the case for War with Iran. How many times can you be duped, bro?

      Hard leftists don’t understand the art of practical politics, which is all about grabbing hold of every minute advantage one can acquire and patiently moving all these small advantages collectively forward to achieve an objective.

      And this is why hard leftists are always spinning their wheels, getting nowhere, and ineffectually shaking their fists against “the system” and “the man.” For them it’s all about narcissistic rhetorical melodrama.

      There is a strong consensus within the American national security community that a war with Iran would be very bad for American interests. Chuck Hagel will represent and lobby for those views in the Obama administration.

      • Dan Crowther
        January 7, 2013, 1:07 pm

        Sean first makes some declarations about “hard leftists” that I didn’t really pay attention to.
        He then comtinues:

        “There is a strong consensus within the American national security community that a war with Iran would be very bad for American interests. Chuck Hagel will represent and lobby for those views in the Obama administration.”
        —————————————–

        Sean is obviously close buddies with Chuckie Hagel – my apologies. I didn’t know Sean had a back channel to Hagel and can state without equivocation what he will and won’t do. What a resource!

        Of course, that’s insane. I might be a hard leftist cult member or something, but I at least now this: NEVER EVER project my (left leaning, “progressive”) views onto Government Officials. Sean and others want to give Ol Chuckie the benefit of the doubt, and I guess that’s fine as far as it goes, which ain’t far. But it’s completely unserious to make declarations of an Obama appointments progressive or humanist views. Too many of these people have shown themselves to be the exact opposite.

      • Mooser
        January 7, 2013, 1:11 pm

        “Hard leftists don’t understand the art of practical politics, which is all about grabbing hold of every minute advantage one can acquire and patiently moving all these small advantages collectively forward to achieve an objective.”

        Maybe, maybe, but they know the use of lists! No one makes better use of a list. And BTW, Sean, when did Dan Crowther ever declare he was a “hard leftist” and as I recall, you have never supplied a definition of what that (a “hard leftist”) is. Or is it just one of those “common knowledge” I-know-it-when-I-see-it sort of things? You know, like ethnicity.
        If I hadn’t just promised not to boil over so quickly, I might say you, Sean, are getting pretty goddam far above yourself. You figure others our questions must abide, but thou’rt free? Don’t count on it.

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 7, 2013, 1:32 pm

        “‘the man'”???

        Is it 1968 all over again?

      • hophmi
        January 7, 2013, 5:38 pm

        “There is a strong consensus within the American national security community that a war with Iran would be very bad for American interests. Chuck Hagel will represent and lobby for those views in the Obama administration.”

        The same consensus exists within the Israeli national security community, which is opposed to Netanyahu on this one. That’s one reason why, despite repeated predictions from all of you, Israel hasn’t attacked Iran.

      • HPH
        January 8, 2013, 1:07 pm

        “The same consensus exists within the Israeli national security community, which is opposed to Netanyahu on this one. That’s one reason why, despite repeated predictions from all of you, Israel hasn’t attacked Iran.”

        The falsehood involving the word “all” in the middle of the last sentence deflates the impact of the comment. I never made any such predictions; I bet that some other commenters did not either. Also, I was unaware that the Israeli security community had concern about “American interests.” I thought they were concerned about “Israeli interests.”

      • Abierno
        January 7, 2013, 5:48 pm

        The national security community may well be looking the current Israeli electoral parties configuration which indicates that Naftali
        Bennett’s party is second in size and growing (as right wing Likud
        members move further right) and that Avigdor Lieberman’s party
        has indicated that immediately after the election the association between Likud and Israel Beiteinu is dissolved, potentially leaving
        Netanyahu unable to form a government and Bennett being in a strong position to combine all the far right parties and Israel Beiteinu to form a far, far right government whose primary goals are annexation of the
        West Bank, expulsion of Gaza to Egypt and as rapid expulsion of the
        Palestinians as is politically feasible. (Those who remember the last
        Israeli election will note that Tzipi Liveni won the greatest popular vote but was unable to form a government). Would the US go to
        war for Iran on behalf of such an Israeli government? The assumed
        neocon position is at the very least a semi-moderate right wing Israeli government with gradual settlement enroachment on Palestinian land
        until all of the “infiltrators” have vanished from the country or been
        carefully sequetered in gaza-like bantustans. Overt and possibly bloody annexation of the West Bank is an issue that they would wish
        far removed from the considerations of how such as situation would impact on the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. Both
        Kerry and Hagel have the chops to assist Obama in navigating this
        situation without provoking a full scale World War III in the Middle
        East. Carter and Flourney do not. This volatile situation is a perfect
        example wherein entrenched Israeli/US neocons are doing Israel no
        good, but instead opening the door to real harm for Israel.

      • Keith
        January 7, 2013, 7:02 pm

        SEAN MCBRIDE- “And this is why hard leftists are always spinning their wheels, getting nowhere, and ineffectually shaking their fists against “the system” and “the man.” For them it’s all about narcissistic rhetorical melodrama.”

        This is your idea of a scholarly analysis? More like a bitter drama queen with nothing in her purse but bad memories.

        “I don’t think that Chomsky gets semantics at all.”
        link to mondoweiss.net

        I have to give you credit for chutzpa, what other Mondo commenter would disparage Chomsky on linguistics? Of course, with a PhD in self-aggrandizement, the sky is the limit!

        Finally, I hope you are aware that your emphasis on “hard” leftists is subject to multiple interpretations?

      • seanmcbride
        January 8, 2013, 11:22 am

        Keith,

        I have to give you credit for chutzpa, what other Mondo commenter would disparage Chomsky on linguistics? Of course, with a PhD in self-aggrandizement, the sky is the limit!

        The linguistics research of Noam Chomsky failed to have much success in helping to push artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies forward because Chomsky was focused almost exclusively on syntax and paid little attention to semantics. Semantics is more important than syntax for developing robust natural language understanding systems — in fact, syntax is arguably a component and subset of semantics. Semantic relations among objects define syntactic relations.

        The Semantic Web has come into existence largely to deal with the inadequacies of a purely syntax-based approach to artificial intelligence.

        Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, will probably be considered by history to be a much more important thinker and visionary than Noam Chomsky. TBL’s World Wide Web and HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) have had a much greater impact on all of us than Chomsky’s theories on transformational grammar.

        I don’t know much about Berners-Lee’s politics, but I doubt that he is a dogmatic and militant leftist. His mind operates on a higher plane. TBL is attempting to formalize the most fundamental semantic and ontological structures that govern all human thought and to develop methods for automating those kinds of cognitive processes across the entire planet within the framework of a single, integrated global superintelligence. The implications in this vision for the human race are staggering, if you understand them.

        And TBL is not a “business titan” — your crude stereotypes don’t match up with reality. The great visionaries who created our current information revolution rarely had money on their minds — they were obsessed with pursuing their visionary ideas.

      • Mooser
        January 8, 2013, 12:12 pm

        “The linguistics research of Noam Chomsky failed to have much success in helping to push artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies forward”

        Sean, when it comes to artificial intelligence, you’re a genius! I’ve never seen such artificial intelligence. And Chomsky, what fool, he’s concerned about, like, people instead of “transhumans”,

      • seanmcbride
        January 8, 2013, 2:18 pm

        Keith,

        More on Noam Chomsky and Tim Berners-Lee.

        TBL is not only the creator of the World Wide Web and HTML, but he is the lead visionary behind the Semantic Web — a technology that promises to be even more revolutionary than the World Wide Web.

        You can find the homepage for the Semantic Web project here at the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT:

        link to w3.org

        TBL’s ideas have been enormously fertile, generating endless new lines of research and productive new technologies.

        Try Googling [html5] and you will notice that the Web markup language he created is the center of titanic innovative activity (TBL is indeed a titan, although not a “business titan.”).

        How much activity has Noam Chomsky’s research on transformational grammar generated? Not much, comparatively speaking.

        Chomsky has interesting insights into Israeli politics and Western capitalism and imperialism — but he tends to be very light on empirical details. I can think of much more interesting minds on these subjects.

        Chomsky has never dared to challenge the Israel and Jewish lobbies regarding Mideast and Israeli politics, for reasons that only he knows. His failure to do so has weakened his critique of Israel.

        I have never encountered a Chomsky disciple who is gifted with an original and creative mind. Basically they regurgitate Chomskyan doctrine.

        It would be unfair to characterize Chomsky as a Marxist, Marxist-Leninist or Trotskyite — but one encounters quite a few themes in that tradition in his political writings. He has never, for me, managed to envision and outline a credible vision of where the world is heading.

      • Keith
        January 8, 2013, 6:58 pm

        SEAN MCBRIDE- “The great visionaries who created our current information revolution rarely had money on their minds — they were obsessed with pursuing their visionary ideas.”

        On January 3rd, Sean said : “Because geniuses like Sergey Brin, Larry Page or Steve Jobs can come out of nowhere and turn entire industries upside down. Even entire *societies* upside down.”

        Well, you have come a long way, baby! First, it was the corporate John Galts of the world who were “empowering” us, now it is the University researchers who are leading the way! Are you beginning to see the light? People like Noam Chomsky’s MIT colleague Tim Berners-Lee who is a champion of open web freedom, unlike the proprietary moguls Brin, Page and Jobs (may he rest in peace).

        “I don’t know much about Berners-Lee’s politics, but I doubt that he is a dogmatic and militant leftist. His mind operates on a higher plane.”

        Neither Chomsky nor Dan nor Mooser nor I are “dogmatic and militant leftist(s).” Here you go with your spurious labeling again. As for “His mind operates on a higher plane,” you seem to have a real problem with opportunistic hero worship, and with trying to puff up your credentials by associating yourself with people like Berners-Lee, Brin, Jobs, etc.

        “The linguistics research of Noam Chomsky failed to have much success in helping to push artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies forward because Chomsky was focused almost exclusively on syntax and paid little attention to semantics.”

        Chomsky’s research in linguistics was never intended to advance “artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies.” He is doing science, not engineering applications. And as for innovation, it is people like Chomsky and Berner-Lee who are fighting to keep information freely available, which facilitates technological diffusion, unlike the billionaires you previously mentioned who are supporters of the odious intellectual property rights which are a key provision of all of these trade agreements, and which greatly inhibit innovation.

        “Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, will probably be considered by history to be a much more important thinker and visionary than Noam Chomsky”

        I wasn’t aware that there was a contest going on. These are two colleagues working in two different areas with little or no conflict. As far as I know, none of Berners-Lee’s work has had any impact whatsoever on linguistics. Has Berners-Lee ever criticized Chomsky’s work in linguistics?

        “Semantic relations among objects define syntactic relations.”

        Okay, Sean, here is your opportunity to show everyone how smart you really are. Seems to me that you are shamelessly blowing smoke here. If you actually have the technical expertise to evaluate and develop linguistic theories, then you must surely have published in the technical journals, written books, taught courses, etc. I want to see some solid linguistic credentials or I am going to assume you are a Wikipedia scholar at best.

        “TBL is attempting to formalize the most fundamental semantic and ontological structures that govern all human thought and to develop methods for automating those kinds of cognitive processes across the entire planet within the framework of a single, integrated global superintelligence. The implications in this vision for the human race are staggering, if you understand them.”

        The implication being that you understand them? You have really gone over the top here. Based upon my quick search for this comment, I am under the impression that the Semantic Web Berners-Lee is working on is an enhancement to web information sharing, potentially significant, perhaps, but hardly an “integrated global superintelligence.” As for Chomsky’s thoughts on artificial intelligence, I provide a link, below which I copied and pasted some useful definitions.
        link to theatlantic.com

        Syntax- In linguistics, syntax (from Ancient Greek σύνταξις “arrangement” from σύν syn, “together”, and τάξις táxis, “an ordering”) is “the study of the principles and processes by which sentences are constructed in particular languages”.[1]

        Generative Grammar- The hypothesis of generative grammar is that language is a structure of the human mind.

        Transformational Grammar- Terms such as “transformation” can give the impression that theories of transformational generative grammar are intended as a model for the processes through which the human mind constructs and understands sentences. Chomsky is clear that this is not in fact the case: a generative grammar models only the knowledge that underlies the human ability to speak and understand. One of the most important of Chomsky’s ideas is that most of this knowledge is innate, with the result that a baby can have a large body of prior knowledge about the structure of language in general, and need only actually learn the idiosyncratic features of the language(s) it is exposed to. Chomsky was not the first person to suggest that all languages had certain fundamental things in common (he quotes philosophers writing several centuries ago who had the same basic idea), but he helped to make the innateness theory respectable after a period dominated by more behaviorist attitudes towards language. Perhaps more significantly, he made concrete and technically sophisticated proposals about the structure of language, and made important proposals regarding how the success of grammatical theories should be evaluated.

        Semantics- In linguistics, semantics is the subfield that is devoted to the study of meaning, as inherent at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse (termed texts). The basic area of study is the meaning of signs, and the study of relations between different linguistic units and compounds: homonymy, synonymy, antonymy, hypernymy, hyponymy, meronymy, metonymy, holonymy, paronyms. A key concern is how meaning attaches to larger chunks of text, possibly as a result of the composition from smaller units of meaning. Traditionally, semantics has included the study of sense and denotative reference, truth conditions, argument structure, thematic roles[disambiguation needed], discourse analysis, and the linkage of all of these to syntax.

        Semantic Web- According to the W3C, “The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries.”

      • seanmcbride
        January 9, 2013, 10:34 am

        Keith,

        I’ve read most of Chomsky’s key writings on both linguistics and politics. I’ve attended numerous Chomsky lectures on both topics. I think Chomsky is smart and interesting but not nearly as smart and interesting as his disciples claim. He’s overrated. And his disciples tend to produce Cliff Notes and comic book versions of reality. It is not likely that you will be able to convince me otherwise — we will need to agree to disagree on this and let it go.

        The reason this argument developed in the first place was because I have been amazed at how shallow have been the analyses of Mideast politics that have been posted by Chomsky enthusiasts here.

        With regard to the World Wide Semantic Web being the harbinger of an integrated global superintelligence — and this is a development that leading Semantic Web researchers are fully cognizant of and are working towards — I will give you some time to look more into the subject and make another attempt to address the subject. Google into Cyc, Wolfram Alpha, Google Knowledge Graph, Wikidata and related projects and connect a few dots. The Semantic Web is all about connecting and drawing inferences from all the dots in the world — a cognitive task that no single human being or any group of human beings is up to.

        If after digging into this you *still* don’t understand the connections between the Semantic Web and global superintelligence, I will take the trouble to explain them to you, and show you how this emergent technology can be used to analyze and understand Mideast politics or any knowledge domain whatever.

      • Keith
        January 9, 2013, 11:40 am

        SEAN MCBRIDE- “If after digging into this you *still* don’t understand the connections between the Semantic Web and global superintelligence, I will take the trouble to explain them to you, and show you how this emergent technology can be used to analyze and understand Mideast politics or any knowledge domain whatever.”

        This is going to be my last comment on this thread. You have dragged the discussion way off topic with your unrelenting spurious labeling of those you disagree with, an attempt to label yourself as smart and those you disingenuously label “Chomskyites” as simple minded cultists. I find it hard to believe that you have the expertise you infer regarding either artificial intelligence or the semantic web in view of all of the time you spend commenting on Mondoweiss and elsewhere. Mondoweiss is hardly the appropriate forum to “educate” me on the semantic web, which is why I asked for a listing of your scholarly works on these topics. I am not competent to evaluate highly technical discussions on either linguistics or web architecture, but knowing that you have published peer reviewed articles in the scholarly journals, written books, performed significant research, etc, would assuage my doubts concerning your expertise which you continually infer but do not demonstrate. As they say, money talks, bullshit walks. Speaking of which, how come there is no star by your name? A mistake, perhaps? You know, endless flattery is no substitute for cold, hard cash.

      • seanmcbride
        January 9, 2013, 11:51 am

        Keith,

        Let me give you a leg up on the Semantic Web while you are Googling into the topics I mentioned.

        What if you could look at each and every object in the world and understand all its connections to each and every other object in the world?

        That is what the grand vision of the Semantic Web is all about.

        Objects: people, organizations, groups, documents, concepts, events, situations, terms, addresses, email addresses, IP addresses, buildings, faces, voices, vehicles, etc. — all situated on a single semantic grid.

        The Semantic Web will see all the connections among everything and forget nothing — in other words, it will embody an integrated global superintelligence that will be focused on drawing creative inferences from its total dataset 24×7. It will be able to read all the signs in the world with greater intellectual power than any human being.

        As for the potential dangers of this technology, tell me about it. I know — possible dystopian nightmares abound. But the upside is also pretty amazing from the standpoint of accelerating the rate of human progress in every conceivable field and research front.

        Regarding lists: a key concept behind the Semantic Web is that all the knowledge in the world can be expressed as a single list of trillions (centillions?) of simple semantic assertions, with a bit of light markup building on some of the formal conventions of HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). There is a great deal more to lists than meets the eye.

      • seanmcbride
        January 9, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Keith,

        Many commenters on Mideast politics choose to remain anonymous for a wide variety of very good reasons. It is rude of you not to respect those boundaries.

        My interest in Mideast politics is a subset of my interest in the Semantic Web. As I have mentioned before, Mideast politics is rich with low-hanging semantic fruit, especially in terms of well-defined social networks and belief systems. It provides a wonderful testbed for developing Semantic Web concepts.

        Testbed: “a platform for experimentation of large development projects.”

        But I also care about a great deal about Mideast policy issues. As an American, I especially care about the future of my country.

      • hophmi
        January 9, 2013, 12:09 pm

        So, Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon on a large scale. Of course, these are great tools. But they require human assessment.

      • Mooser
        January 9, 2013, 12:16 pm

        “What if you could look at each and every object in the world and understand all its connections to each and every other object in the world?”

        When the world stands still long enough for that to happen, give me a call, it’ll be interesting. But since time has a way of only going in one direction, and not stopping, everything changes all the time. In fact, as you map the connections, you change things Duh!

        Hey Sean, did I ever tell you about my perpetual-motion engine motorcycle?

      • Mooser
        January 9, 2013, 12:20 pm

        “What if you could look at each and every object in the world and understand all its connections to each and every other object in the world?

        Wow, then you would be God! Yes sir, that is one temptation (to be Divine) am I gonna give in to. No possible repercussions from that! How could it not work? What could go wrong?

      • seanmcbride
        January 9, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Mooser,

        In fact, as you map the connections, you change things Duh!

        There is a huge set of data that doesn’t change and is relatively fixed — historical, biographical, etc. — and our current information technologies can now capture and analyze much of that data in real time.

        But that argument there — “Duh!” — is up to your usual standards.

        An example of fixed data:

        William Kristol was a founder of the PNAC (Project for the New American Century).

        or, with a bit of light markup:

        /category PNAC founder /instance William Kristol

        That piece of data — call it a semantic assertion or simply a fact — and many trillions of other pieces of data like it, are relatively permanent.

        (Nothing is permanent, of course — at some point our planet will disappear and everything on it. Buddhists have always understood this.)

        Google Knowledge Graph is already loaded with a huge dataset of fixed data.

        Every comment you have posted on Mondoweiss constitutes a piece of fixed data that is available for intensive analysis from multiple directions.

      • seanmcbride
        January 9, 2013, 12:40 pm

        Mooser,

        Wow, then you would be God! Yes sir, that is one temptation (to be Divine) am I gonna give in to. No possible repercussions from that! How could it not work? What could go wrong?

        Now you are on the beam and asking the right questions. Everything could go wrong, and in horrific ways. We are facing the same kinds of problems with nuclear technology and genetic engineering. So keep bearing down hard on those questions.

      • Mooser
        January 9, 2013, 1:17 pm

        “Every comment you have posted on Mondoweiss constitutes a piece of fixed data that is available for intensive analysis from multiple directions.”

        And a lot of them are very funny. I slave all day over a hot keyboard to come up with nifties like “the old ship of anti-Zion”.
        You sir, have not even provoked a chortle, let alone an archive hogshead-full of boffo yoks!

      • Mooser
        January 9, 2013, 1:19 pm

        “But that argument there — “Duh!” — is up to your usual standards.”

        Sean, I know perpetual motion when I see it. It always gives me that worn-out battery feeling. And I hear the Eagles singing “Everything, all the time…” (“Life in the Fast Lane”). And I don’t like the Eagles.

      • seanmcbride
        January 9, 2013, 1:42 pm

        The grand vision of the Semantic Web goes far beyond a radical expansion of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon meme — it is contemplating connecting *everything* on a single semantic grid — not just people — but all animate and inanimate, and physical and abstract, entities. It is being built as we speak.

        Sounds a bit crazy, I know — but it’s doable. Many really big ideas that bear fruit begin by sounding totally outrageous and impossible.

        Regarding the need for human control and assessment — absolutely. Unless the whole thing runs away from us, which it could.

      • thetumta
        January 7, 2013, 8:30 pm

        I hope your right and this is not the perfect setup for an attack on Iran? Apart from my concern of yet another huge disappointment for me as an American, I hope to never lose faith in good Sargents. If not for them, I wouldn’t be typing this e-mail.

        Hej! Tumta

    • Dan Crowther
      January 7, 2013, 12:46 pm

      Also, Phil – I can’t wait for your post on John Brennan being nominated for CIA director, and how it’s such a significant change over there….. oh wait.

      • marc b.
        January 7, 2013, 1:20 pm

        i’m with dan on this (and other ‘hard’ leftists. i used to be a ‘soft’ leftist, but mineral supplements solved that.) not on every detail, but certainly the cynical sentiment. i don’t see an attack on iran regardless of who is nominated because even those who rhetorically support the attack (e.g. bibi who knows he doesn’t have the necessary support of the military/intelligence community, but is able to capitalize on the cover provided by the war talk to expand settlements and to placate the nutters in israel – operation pillar of something will have to suffice for now), realize what a king hell disaster it would be for the US military and regional stability. hagel is the ‘lesser of evils’ candidate (see eyal weizman) the increasing economic stranglehold on iran being the ‘humane’ alternative to nuclear fallout and a hot regional war (will chuck be as equally blase about the mass deaths of iranian civilians as what’s-her-face was with iraqis?) .

      • American
        January 7, 2013, 3:00 pm

        ”i don’t see an attack on iran regardless of who is nominated because even those who rhetorically support the attack (e.g. bibi who knows he doesn’t have the necessary support of the military/intelligence community, but is able to capitalize on the cover provided by the war talk to expand settlements and to placate the nutters in israel – operation pillar of something will have to suffice for now), realize what a king hell disaster it would be for the US military and regional stability.””….marc b

        Never underestimate the insanity of a mob of corrupt politicians and committed fanatics. Remember Iraq or go back and review all the ‘extremely qualified’ people who were against it—from Powell to oil fall guys who even spoke for the Oil Capitalist saying they wanted no part of it. Think of the pentagon with Rumsfield and stacked with Feith and other zios and Cheney’s zio sidekick Abrams whispering in Bush’s ear, feeding his ego, pumping him. Think of the stove piped intelligence fed to congress, the WMD drum beat fed to the public thru the msm.
        Nope, don’t underestimate the forces that will keep working for a attack on Iran…it will be like chinese water tourture, a constant drip drip on his forehead. And don’t over look the dozens of bills already passed in congress laying the ground work for that attack.
        Obama needs as much backup and door stops within authoritative US agencies and positions against those forces that he can get.

      • Mooser
        January 7, 2013, 3:10 pm

        “(and other ‘hard’ leftists. i used to be a ‘soft’ leftist, but mineral supplements solved that.)”

        Did you use that special “Chomsky’s Chalk” formula? I get all kinds of spam for stuff promising to make my leftism harder, but it’s hard to know which one works

      • dbroncos
        January 7, 2013, 6:27 pm

        Good points, American and good for Obama. Let’s hope that Hagel becomes the next Sec Def and that his position there will help keep us out of a war with Iran.

      • seanmcbride
        January 7, 2013, 2:10 pm

        Dan Crowther,

        Why the neocons fear and dislike John Brennan:

        /title You Can Order Hundreds of Drone Strikes And Still Be Called ‘Wet Nurse’ of Terrorism
        /author Spencer Ackerman
        /publication Danger Room
        /date January 7, 2012
        /url link to wired.com

        But as much as Brennan has become synonymous with the drone strikes, in some quarters, he’s considered a terrorism apologist.

        That line of criticism began in 2009, when Brennan, an Arabic speaker and former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, introduced the new administration’s relatively constrained definition of the war on terrorism. He rejected using the term “jihadist” to describe al-Qaida and its ideological fellow-travelers. The term “risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve,” Brennan argued, repeating the case in another speech the following year that referred to jihad as a “holy struggle” that terrorists would like to claim as their own.

        An excerpt from that speech was picked up by Fox News, under the headline “Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as ‘Legitimate Tenet of Islam’.” You had to read further into the piece to learn that Brennan actually contended that the term played into al-Qaida’s self-conception, and Brennan himself made the point “there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.”

        But the abridged version of the speech rocketed across the internet and has dogged Brennan ever since. Columnist Michelle Malkin called Brennan “soft on jihad” on Monday, and a 2010 column described him as the “wet nurse” of terrorism. Robert Spencer, an Islam critic who has lectured to FBI audiences, blasted Brennan for “willful blindness” about Islam and terrorism. The Weekly Standard called attention to Brennan using the Arabic name for Jerusalem in a 2010 speech.

      • Dan Crowther
        January 7, 2013, 2:27 pm

        I’ll let Glenn Greenwald respond to McBride:

        It is a perfect illustration of the Obama legacy that a person who was untouchable as CIA chief in 2008 because of his support for Bush’s most radical policies is not only Obama’s choice for the same position now, but will encounter very little resistance. Within this change one finds one of the most significant aspects of the Obama presidency: his conversion of what were once highly contentious right-wing policies into harmonious dogma of the DC bipartisan consensus. Then again, given how the CIA operates, one could fairly argue that Brennan’s eagerness to deceive and his long record of supporting radical and unaccountable powers make him the perfect person to run that agency. It seems clear that this is Obama’s calculus

        link to guardian.co.uk

      • seanmcbride
        January 7, 2013, 3:23 pm

        Here we go:

        /title Obama nominates pro-Jihadist, John Brennan, to head the CIA
        /author Pamela Geller
        /publication Atlas Shrugs
        /date January 7, 2013
        /url link to atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

        Perhaps Brennan should turn some of his attention on political extremists like Geller.

      • David Samel
        January 7, 2013, 6:37 pm

        Dan, if you’re going to cite Greenwald, you’ll get no argument from me, but you also should be aware that Greenwald has been a huge supporter of the Hagel nomination. You can peruse his guardian website for the details. On the Brennan nomination, you are absolutely right, but I think your criticism of Phil for trumpeting the Hagel situation is unfounded.

        Your pesssimism about Hagel may be well-founded. We’ll see. If Hagel sticks to some of the principles he has espoused in the past, it might be a change in the right direction, however small. If he retracts as you expect, I wouldn’t be surprised. But the fact that Obama nominated someone deemed unacceptable to prominent sectors of the Israel Lobby surely is a huge achievement. It signals that the Lobby does not have veto power over such appointments and that their mighty arsenal is a little less powerful than many believed. It might inspire others to exercise a little courage as well, knowing that attacks on them can seem shrill and dishonest and may wither under scrutiny.

        Will the US abandon its immoral self-appointed role as the world’s policeman? Of course not. But is the Hagel nomination insignificant? I don’t think so at all.

      • Dan Crowther
        January 8, 2013, 9:15 am

        Samel,

        I read Greenwald daily, I know ful well he *supports* Hagel. Greenwald speaks more towards why some liberals and groups like the log cabin republicans are full of poo for opposing him – but he NEVER says “we can expect X from chuck hagel” which is EXACTLY what McBride and others constantly do here.

        Just look at his remarks from yesterday: I Love Israel – sometimes more than the Israeli’s- and Iran is a state sponsor of terror.

        But here we’re talking about him preempting wars? Gutting the “defense” budget? It’s kind of a joke.

      • Mooser
        January 8, 2013, 12:17 pm

        “But here we’re talking about him preempting wars? Gutting the “defense” budget? It’s kind of a joke.”

        Dan, you wouldn’t think that way if you would just employ your artificial intelligence, instead of that worn-out, old, non-trans-human intelligence. Try to be ambigudextrous, instead of hard, or even brittle, left. You’ll give people the idea you are just a person, not one of the program-language speaking technocratic elite. And don’t forget about a ruthless and sneaky linguistics. That sometimes helps, and it passes the time pleasantly in many cases.

    • ToivoS
      January 7, 2013, 5:28 pm

      The Obama admin does not want war with Iran. I suspect that is one reason Hagel was chosen. This does not mean that war will be avoided. We have set up a very dangerous situation there and war could break out through a number of ways — false flag operation, direct Israeli attack, some hot heads on any side getting into a shooting exchange, perhaps Iran retaliating for some act of assassination or sabotage. Right now we are in a situation of no war-no peace. That is US policy. To reduce the dangers of war we have to walk back that policy.

      I am somewhat optimistic here and believe Obama has positioned himself to do just that. We should see some real negotiations between the US and Iran in coming months. Dan’s pessimistic prediction may happen but it would not be based on deliberate policy.

    • American
      January 7, 2013, 5:30 pm

      “You want to talk about “affected ignorance” wow-wee!….:…Dan

      Yea, yours….
      Congress imposes – Obama disposes.
      One O hand signeth the sanctions, one O hand waiveth some sanctions.
      This has been going since day one.

      U.S. renews waivers of Iran sanctions for Japan, EU nations | Reuters
      http://www.reuters.com/…/us-usa-iran-sanctions-idUSBRE88D1KH201209…Cached
      Sep 14, 2012 – The combination of U.S. and European sanctions has forced Iran to cut its oil output and almost halve exports. Since it won its first waiver, …

      China Is Excluded From Waivers for Oil Trade – New York Times
      http://www.nytimes.com/…/china-not-issued-waiver-for-oil-trade-with-iran….
      You +1’d this publicly. UndoJun 11, 2012 – WASHINGTON — Less than three weeks before stringent American sanctions intended to reduce Iran’s oil exports take effect, the Obama …

      thediplomat.com/pacific…/asia-is-purchasing-nearly-all-of-irans-oil/Cached
      Asia is Purchasing Nearly all of Iran’s Oil
      You +1’d this publicly. Undo2 days ago – “Almost all of Iran’s oil exports now go to China, South Korea, Japan and … allow the Obama administration to grant three-month renewable waivers to … the new bill seeks to restrict Iran’s trade in precious met

    • Keith
      January 7, 2013, 6:32 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- I thought that you would find the quote below interesting.

      Recently, “…a dinner took place in New York under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an offshoot of the Israeli lobby. According to an enthusiastic report on the “gala” in the Israeli press, Dennis Ross, Elliott Abrams and other “former top advisers to Obama and Bush” assured the audience that “the president will strike (Iran) next year if diplomacy doesn’t succeed”
      link to normanfinkelstein.com

      • Dan Crowther
        January 8, 2013, 4:20 pm

        Thanks Keith – I did see that, and I’ve also seen anonymous quotes from Israeli officials saying Hagel could be perfect for their plans, as he’s been sold as a near “pacifist”

        “The change of heart centers on the notion that if Sen. Hagel can be gotten to, and convinced of the value of attacking Iran, his previous opposition would be a big chance to respin the war as even more legitimate in having brought even the doubters around.”

        link to news.antiwar.com

        ““It is possible that certain actions will have greater legitimacy if they are taken by certain people who have opposed them in the past,” the source said.”
        link to timesofisrael.com

  4. seanmcbride
    January 7, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Hey, I know I am being boring and repetitive — but Phil has hit every essay on the Chuck Hagel controversy out of the park — and once again here.

    What do you want to bet that many mainstream media pundits are now surreptitiously taking their lead from Phil on analyzing and understanding Mideast politics?

    Smart is smart and most people want to be associated with smart, not with not so smart.

    But in no way am I a Weiss cultist — I don’t do cultism. :)

    Wait a bit, and even Rachel Maddow and Markos Moulitsas will be on board. They are slow, but not without elements of independent and critical intelligence.

    • Mooser
      January 7, 2013, 3:06 pm

      “What do you want to bet that many mainstream media pundits are now surreptitiously taking their lead from Phil on analyzing and understanding Mideast politics?”

      Darn it! I wanted to say that to Adam Horowitz when he said “nobody cares” the other day, but I just couldn’t, thought it would sound syncophantic. Well, thanks for saying it, and let’s hope the pick-up time from Mondo to the mainstream, gets shorter and shorter.

    • Carowhat
      January 7, 2013, 8:00 pm

      You are more optimistic than I am about Maddow’s aversion to talking about the Israel Lobby. She would choke on her blouse before ever saying “opposition to Hagel” and “Israel” in the same sentence.

  5. seanmcbride
    January 7, 2013, 12:34 pm

    To get serious: I think it is important that Phil has maintained his emotional and cultural ties to “his people” while deconstructing Zionism. This is a heroic mission actually — on a scale with Herzl’s (misguided) mission — the attempt to define a new and more viable center of gravity for contemporary Jewish civilization. Principled intellectual warriors like Phil may succeed in bailing out the Jewish establishment — we can hope.

    • Mooser
      January 7, 2013, 4:46 pm

      “Principled intellectual warriors like Phil may succeed in bailing out the Jewish establishment”

      But what if Phil “wants to get out of the business”? That wouldn’t be good. Now, I have very little interest in “bailing out the Jewish establishment” (but thank you for caring about them, I guess they’re people, too) but was operating on the niave and squishy-leftist proposition that knowledge of the facts and history of Zionism might empower the Jewish people to change.
      But that, of course, would mean getting past those “core drivers”, so it’s probably too hard.

    • libra
      January 7, 2013, 6:10 pm

      seanmcbride: Principled intellectual warriors like Phil may succeed in bailing out the Jewish establishment — we can hope.

      Sean, I may have overestimated Phil here but I’ve always hoped (and still do) that he has loftier principals and, indeed, goals than bailing out the Jewish establishment.

      • libra
        January 7, 2013, 7:26 pm

        Whoops, I meant “principles” not “principals” here.

  6. chinese box
    January 7, 2013, 12:51 pm

    On one of the talking head shows (I think Chris Matthews) on Sunday morning, during the “prediction” segment, Bob Woodward said he was worried that we would be talking about Israel “more than any of us would like” over the next four years. I don’t know what Woodward’s views are but I take this statement as meaning he would rather sweep the lobby and settlement issues under the rug rather than have to discuss them openly.

    • Carowhat
      January 7, 2013, 8:03 pm

      I took Woodward’s statement to mean we would be talking more about Israel than we would like because a war had erupted in the Middle East.

  7. MHughes976
    January 7, 2013, 1:11 pm

    The BBC report tells us that the official line is that Hagel is much misunderstood, that he has voted to subsidise Israel and for intensified sanctions on Iran. The policy, I think, is to wait for the elections in Iran in the expectation that Ahmenijehad’s successor will use rather different (it wouldn’t have to be substantially different; just a little different in words) rhetoric. This will be played up as a great success.
    It is true that Obama has refused to go to war with Iran. He has actually been steady on this point. I can’t assure Dan that he’s acting on principle but he’s not an idiot and he knows that war would be idiotic. (He may, I admit, be thinking he can get into position for a Syria style insurgency in Iran.)
    I rather think that the stream of excited publications by academics and journalists, just glowing with pride at being in Israel’s confidence, saying that Iran will have nukes by next Wednesday and that something will be done, just you wait, will subside for a bit. Beyond this I don’t see that much will change. How much O has been under real pressure to attack Iran or has been involved in charades and postures we don’t really know. The Iranians must long since have filed the King Learish threats of terrible things from Israel in the Empty Threats cabinet. The economic pressures devised by O have been serious, of course, and will probably produce a new tone from Iran when their elections are over.

    • Bumblebye
      January 7, 2013, 6:06 pm

      Have just listened to bbcR4 news at 10. To discuss the Hagel nomination they had on Noah Pollack(sp?), described as having commissioned the “Emergency Committee for Israel” ad, and Aaron David Miller.
      Pollacks points (some of ‘em):
      1) Hagel’s not qualified for Secretary of Defense
      2) He’s “radical” on Israel and Iran
      3) He’s critical and unfair on Israel
      4) He spent his whole political career “outside the mainstream” in the Senate (guess that just means he wouldn’t sign AIPAC authored resolutions!)
      5) Not likely to be SecDef, wouldn’t get thru’ hearings, referenced Schumer and Republicans against him.

      Then it was Aaron David Millers turn:
      1) Hagel will get thru hearings, but expect tough questions and stormy exchanges
      2) Hagel (thru experience) has the moral authority to run the Pentagon, rather than the Pentagon running him (!)
      3) He has sensibility to the risks of war, and to those who fight it.

      • Hostage
        January 8, 2013, 3:44 pm

        Hagel’s not qualified for Secretary of Defense

        LOL! What qualifications do you need? After Secretary of Defense Harold Brown left office, he published a book and hit the lecture circuit discussing the topic “Managing’ the Defense Department-Why It Can’t Be Done” — link to books.google.com

        Besides being a US Senator who served on the Banking and Intelligence Committees, Hagel founded or served as the head of several companies that made him a multi-millionaire; was a successful registered lobbyist before he became a candidate for elected or appointed public office; was the Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration; a member of the Board of Directors of Chevron Corporation, a member of the Advisory Board of the American Red Cross, the Director of the USO, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and a Professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. But more importantly he served in the Armed Forces during a conflict that was supposedly managed by “The Best and the Brightest”.
        link to amazon.com

        We’ve certainly had Jewish Secretaries of Defense with fewer qualifications, including Brown.

      • hophmi
        January 8, 2013, 4:14 pm

        “We’ve certainly had Jewish Secretaries of Defense with fewer qualifications, including Brown.”

        What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why would it matter whether other SecDefs were Jewish or not?

      • eGuard
        January 8, 2013, 4:26 pm

        hophmi: Why would it matter whether other SecDefs were Jewish or not?

        Even better: why would it matter whether SecDefs were pro-Israel or not?

      • Annie Robbins
        January 8, 2013, 4:39 pm

        Why would it matter whether other SecDefs were Jewish or not?

        Why would it matter whether Israel was Jewish or not?

        hophmi, look:

        link to washingtonpost.com

        the fight is over ” the Jewish state ” this is normal msm language now. so it stands to reason why a person might mention a “Jewish Secretary of Defense” if their role is defending the jewish state. wouldn’t it? i don’t think one needs an iota management capabilities to be sac of def as long as they support ‘the jewish state’. i mean look at romney, he’s got tons of managerial qualifications but he said he’d just defer to israel over any issues pertaining to their security (including iran).

        obviously, the fight has nothing to do with hagel capabilities as a manager. only one thing is important to the opposition, protect/defer to ‘the jewish state’. why is it bad to mention “the jewish def sec”? can you imagine how silly it would sound if someone called israel ‘the jewish state’ and got chewed out for mentioning jewish?

        it reminds me of that article (nyt?) recently that qualified phil as a jewish anti zionist but said nothing about the other people being jewish and zionists.

      • hophmi
        January 8, 2013, 5:23 pm

        It wouldn’t matter a great deal, which is why I’ve said a bunch of times now that Hagel’s position on Israel is not something I care a great deal about. You guys seem to care much, much more than I do.

        Hostage’s response seems to be a nasty non-sequitor. I think it’s relevant to discuss the merits of other candidates and their positions on important issues. I don’t know why anyone’s religion would be important.

        And your analogy is ridiculous. Everyone accepts that Israel refers to itself as the Jewish state; it’s a state with a Jewish majority. There’s been no discussion here about the religion of prospective nominees for SecDef. There’s no relevance to the religion of the nominees here.

      • eljay
        January 8, 2013, 7:47 pm

        >> Everyone accepts that Israel refers to itself as the Jewish state; it’s a state with a Jewish majority.

        I’m aware that Israel refers to itself as the “Jewish State”, but I don’t accept that Israel refers to itself as the “Jewish State”, because “Jewish State” is, fundamentally, a religious and supremacist construct. And there’s nothing just or moral about that.

        But that’s something which hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists just can’t seem to understand…

      • Hostage
        January 8, 2013, 11:44 pm

        What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why would it matter whether other SecDefs were Jewish or not?

        It obviously wouldn’t have mattered at all if they had been well qualified Jews. In case you hadn’t noticed, Presidents tend to make appointments that pander to Jewish voters or patrons. Nobody ever selected Dennis Ross or Aaron Miller because of their demonstrated competence in concluding peace agreements between the parties in the Middle East. Obama just beat the neo-cons in the last election, so he gets to set the administration agenda.

        It was just as embarrassing to watch Harold Brown “negotiating” with PM Begin over co-production rights for the F-16 and US funding for Israel’s Merkava tank at the same time that the General Assembly was “Uniting for Peace” and repeatedly condemning Israel for aggression against the Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors and condemning the United States too, for supplying Israel with the arms it needed to do all of that.

        Carter sent Muskie to the UN to undermine sanctions against Israel for annexing Jerusalem and rounded-out his Cabinet appointments with a fourth Jewish Secretary at Commerce (Brown at Defense, Blumenthal at Treasury, Goldschmidt at Transportation, and Klutznick at Commerce).He did everything but tattoo “I’m pandering for the Jewish vote so I can get re-elected” on his forehead, but I noticed what he was doing without it coming to that.

      • Hostage
        January 9, 2013, 1:07 am

        Hostage’s response seems to be a nasty non-sequitor.

        No it wasn’t. I asked about the qualifications of the Jewish critics who were interviewed on a program about Hagel’s qualifications, and noted that there had been Jewish Secretaries of Defense who had fewer qualifications. Does Hagel need to be bar mitzvahed to get the kid glove treatment or what?

        I don’t know why anyone’s religion would be important.

        LOL! After Elliot Abrams wrote:

        “Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart-except in Israel- from the rest of the population.”

        — “Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America”

        Hagel has apologized for his insulting remarks about gays, but Abrams hasn’t apologized to the non-Jewish population.

        I don’t think that a Jew who publishes views like that belongs in an office of public trust dealing with our foreign policy in the Middle East. End of story. There are 300 million people in the United States who don’t stand apart from their fellow citizens. Most of them haven’t plea bargained their way out of multiple felony prosecutions or required a Presidential pardon for their past offenses. Why would a President select someone like Abrams, unless it was a political payoff to one of his patrons?

    • Keith
      January 7, 2013, 7:24 pm

      MHUGHES 976- “It is true that Obama has refused to go to war with Iran.”

      The sanctions and covert operations are acts of war. If another country did that to the US, the US would respond militarily. Obama has not increased the scope of hostilities to include massive air strikes, but that is a possibility if the empire doesn’t achieve its objectives through other means.

      • Sibiriak
        January 9, 2013, 4:16 am

        Keith:

        The sanctions and covert operations are acts of war

        Excellent point.

  8. chinese box
    January 7, 2013, 1:44 pm

    It’s a sad day when the US president has to “lobby” a foreign agent just to appoint someone to his cabinet.

  9. doug
    January 7, 2013, 1:45 pm

    Given the increasing divergence of Israel’s drift rightward and the need for American Jews to hold onto the two state solution as actually viable, I don’t see any way to avoid Israel becoming more of a topic. The reason this makes Woodward uncomfortable is that cognitive dissonance is uncomfortable.

    • thetumta
      January 7, 2013, 8:48 pm

      Who cares about 1,2,3 or 5 states in Palestein. How about foreign-aid for Detroit? A couple of Medal of Honor winners there. If you haven’t looked lately, it’s starting to look like certain lost cities in Iraq!
      Hej!

  10. Taxi
    January 7, 2013, 2:29 pm

    What’s the difference between Aipac and a diamond?

    A diamond is forever.

  11. American
    January 7, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Humm……maybe I am over analyzing the efforts of some of the voices making Hagel out be a typical loyal Israel supporter.
    But as per Goldberg….did the WH really call AIPAC for their O.K.? Did O really call “Jewish” leaders to notify them first?
    I am not so sure about all this Hagel is o.k. on Israel, particularly from some it is coming from.
    Can there be a motive in saying ‘see Hagel is good on Israel after all’….to reinforce he MUST BE to be in US government…..to make it the common wisdom?
    Can there be a motive in saying O had to check with AIPAC? Which reinforces the power of the Lobby –while other hand the same others disclaim that power? Who are they reinforcing that Lobby power and importance for…..their own faithful to keep them locked in the Lobby mission?

    It can’t be good for The Lobby for the public to see that the Prez has to check with them about US Sec of Defense position.
    So who it is good for?
    Looks like to me most the Goldberg and others crew has two propaganda missions now that Hagel is nominated—-making him seem pro Israel as “accepted common wisdom’ for US appointments in the event he isn’t defeated and keeping their own faithful pimped on the power of their Lobby.
    Maybe I am over thinking this but behind all their typical baffling with bullshit routines there is always a angle even if it contridicts , like bullshit does, their other propaganda.

    • Donald
      January 7, 2013, 5:48 pm

      “has two propaganda missions now that Hagel is nominated—-making him seem pro Israel as “accepted common wisdom’ for US appointments in the event he isn’t defeated ”

      Exactly. That’s also Obama’s plan for getting him confirmed.

      “and keeping their own faithful pimped on the power of their Lobby.”

      Presumably true regarding their own supporters, but publicly I think some want to downplay the power of AIPAC–the majority of Americans pay very little attention to the I/P conflict and any powerful lobby that dominates a given issue without much widespread public interest would probably want to keep it that way.

  12. ritzl
    January 7, 2013, 2:39 pm

    Agree with Sullivan on this, so far. This is about a turning point, and national reflection (writ large, sans draft, in public confirmation hearings) upon past overreach/stupidity. Obama’s mention of the fighting and dying of grunts (and the effect on their families) spells this out clearly.

    If not now, when? Or, about f…ing time.

    I hope Hagel holds his own in the questioning. Soundbites galore, if so.

  13. Citizen
    January 7, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Obama has nominated Hagel.
    Gonna be interesting to watch the give and take in the vetting–we will get to see who’s really the die hard hasbara bots and strongest supporters of the war business Ike warned us about.

    • Mooser
      January 7, 2013, 4:49 pm

      “and strongest supporters of the war business Ike warned us about.”

      Yep, the warning we tragically ignored, (and from a guy who damn well ought to know) and permanent war became a large American business. Possibly the largest, by dollars devoted to it.

  14. atime forpeace
    January 7, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Sen Chuck Hagel.

    “I will do all I can to prevent war.”

  15. American
    January 7, 2013, 3:29 pm

    Just heard Obama’s nomination of Hagel speech..great!
    The ‘accent’ was on ‘America and American ‘interest’ and this ‘American ‘hero guy. Were these ‘code words”?…who knows, who cares….I liked it…..:)
    Will go over well with the public.

  16. gingershot
    January 7, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Best news in a long time! and outstanding Mondoweiss ‘all in one place’ coverage of this crucial decision and to be so smart to focus on this so carefully…

    The few good reasons why I am glad I voted for Obama in 2008:
    1- Stopping the Netanyahu-Democrat Hillary
    2- Stopping Netanyahu himself from pushing the US into a war with Iran

    Period.

    The few good reasons why I am glad I voted for Obama in 2012:
    1- The Chuck Hagel nomination

  17. Hostage
    January 7, 2013, 4:17 pm

    Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of Defense toward the state of Israel in our nation’s history”

    It’s a matter of public record that Secretary of State (and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs), Marshall, and Secretary of Defense, Forrestal were both bitterly opposed to US recognition of the Jewish State. Marshall even told Truman that he wouldn’t support his re-election bid in front of the White House staff and other Executive branch officials. I doubt that AIPAC has anything like that to worry about in either the Kerry and Hagel nominations.

  18. CloakAndDagger
    January 7, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Jeez dudes! Lighten up!

    We just won a pretty sweet victory by having Hagel nominated with a decent chance for confirmation, after watching all the Israel-firsters come out into the sunlight while trying to prevent this from happening. No matter what happens now, the lobby just sustained a pretty big wallop on the broadside. I rejoice at this. A lot of people on this board feel the need to be cynical and dump on this, and I don’t.

    Maybe this will mean something big or maybe it won’t, but it is a hell of a lot better than if Obama had not nominated him – and you know I am no fan of Obama. And guess what, the show isn’t even half over. What follows is probably a very public fight over confirmation in which all the nation will view the lobby in all its ugliness.

    I am going over to Costco to load up on popcorn. This should be fun!

    • Ellen
      January 7, 2013, 7:20 pm

      C&D don’t underestimate how ugly, vicious and even criminal it can become. There is a whole lot at stake to preserve the status quo.

      • CloakAndDagger
        January 8, 2013, 3:16 am

        @ Ellen

        don’t underestimate how ugly, vicious and even criminal it can become

        I am counting on it being loathsome.
        …and very visible.

    • Taxi
      January 8, 2013, 2:12 am

      I’m with you Cloaky – let’s do a cyber jig together – Irish gypsy style woohoo!

  19. piotr
    January 7, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Barney Frank of the way to Damascus, or how the prospect of a Senatorial seat can induce satori. Barney can be surprisingly intelligent on a good day. Upon a short check it seems to me that the governor of Massachusetts could be Obama’s twin brother, and is totally out of the question that he would nominate Kerry’s replacement in a way inconvenient to Obama.

    It seems that Jewish/Israeli lobby worked out updated position on Hagel, kind of resigned harrumphing, e.g. as we have read here about Malcolm I. Hoenlein, the executing of the Conference of Major Jewish Organization. Times of Israel has an editorial “Hagel: not so bad”.

    One can suspect that Frank represents a widely shared attitude, namely that upon sober analysis, Israel may need Hagel. Most clearly on the issue of Iran: if there is a military action and it leads to a disaster, Israel is there and USA is here. And Bibi needs some clear excuse why years of saber rattling will result in “forget about it”.

    • Rusty Pipes
      January 7, 2013, 9:10 pm

      Frank has been caught between the choice of which powerbrokers to butter up (and whether he can butter up one without offending the other). With a great deal of experience in saying what the Israel Lobby and major donors want to hear, Frank initially trashed Hagel. But Frank has been trying hard to convince Gov. Patrick to appoint him as interim Senator. The buzz has been that Patrick does not want to appoint someone unless they promise that the appointment will only be temporary — that they will not run for the seat later in an election. But Patrick is also a close friend of Obama’s, who may be reluctant to appoint a Democrat who will let posturing get in the way of supporting Obama’s agenda at the beginning of his second term — and there are plenty of spare Democratic politicians in Massachusetts who might be willing to fill such a role. Such a quandary for Frank.

  20. Reds
    January 7, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Should have listen to NPR hit pieces interview with Elliot Abrams on All Things Considered and before on Talk of the Nation qouting none other than Bill Kristol.

    NPR been avoiding pimping the “Jewish Lobby” Comment while minimizing any behaviors by the “Israeli Lobby” and it’s supporters.

    Abrams called Hagel a openly Anti-semitic mutiple times.

    The plus is NPR actually (it seems) for the first time referred to Abrams as a Neo-Con

  21. American
    January 7, 2013, 5:00 pm

    O.K. here we go….. Now that Hagel is nominated the attacks from Zio quarters were never about Israel and Kristol is all about ‘American power for America’s sake and Capitalist Proffering, not about Israel.
    That’s why his attack org is called EMERGENCY COMMITTEE FOR ISRAEL… I guess.

    Except 12 days ago Emily, the same author, did a column begging Obama not to listen to Kristol and his ECI and bomb Iran for Israel.

    (sigh)…. some one please, please help these Israel loving doves…..they keep on and on shooting themselves in the foot. Seriously, I have no sympathy for Israel but it does pain me to see those on the somewhat human side re I/P keep so unconsciously, obtusely ruining their efforts by trying to defend Israel and Jews by dishonestly casting Kristol and the Hagel attacks as not about Israel. There is no way to back the US Israel-Firsters out of this…they shouldn’t even try. They should just condemn it and let their condemnation speak for them.

    Daily Beast

    The Anti-Hagel Campaign Was Never About Israel

    by Emily L. Hauser Jan 7, 2013 3:00 PM EST

     Now that President Obama has in fact named Chuck Hagel as his new Secretary of Defense, can we finally get one thing off the table, for now and forever more?

    The ugly, facts-optional anti-Hagel campaign was never about Israel—and no matter how often the word “Israel” is uttered, neocon fear-mongering never is, in fact, about Israel.

    Neocon attacks on President Obama—as channeled through the likes of Bill Kristol, the Emergency Committee for Israel, Jennifer Rubin, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, etc and so on—are about American power. They are about how a certain (pretty well discredited) ideology envisions the use of American power in the world, and they are about how power is shared within America’s borders.

    The neoconservative movement is predicated on wanting to see American muscle used everywhere, at all times, for reasons that, as far as I can tell, pretty much boil down to looking tough and profiting from same. And by “profiting,” I mean literal profiting, in the form of America’s corporate interests gaining hegemony over the world’s resources (oil comes to mind), which as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t always translate to defending our shores, no matter how the Right tries to spin it

    Please Ignore Kristol’s Desire To Bomb Iran
    by Emily L. Hauser Dec 25, 2012 9:30 AM EST
    link to thedailybeast.com

  22. Shingo
    January 7, 2013, 5:41 pm

    I wish I could see Caroline Glick’s face right now.

  23. mscully
    January 7, 2013, 5:47 pm

    It’s mystifying why so many people are defending Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Of course, the defense campaign is understandable from right-wing libertarians like Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com. Hagel has perfectly respectable Republican & reactionary credentials for the position–which is precisely why he was selected. That means he won’t be the least bit squeamish about expanding wars & occupations, Drone bombing innocent civilians, or the use of special forces, mercenaries, assassination teams, or for that matter collusion in drug trafficking as in Guatemala.

    If you stand against US military policy which only grows more aggressive & brutal by the year, you don’t give a rat’s ass who they select for the job. The only possible demand is to dismantle the entire US war machine, shut down the Pentagon, & prosecute the whole lot of them for war crimes. If you get caught up in this farce of supporting Hagel just because he is opposed by AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, you put yourself in a regrettable position & have reduced politics to “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    • Shingo
      January 8, 2013, 6:17 am

      That means he won’t be the least bit squeamish about expanding wars & occupation

      based on what previous behaviour or policy?

    • tree
      January 8, 2013, 3:53 pm

      The only possible demand is to dismantle the entire US war machine, shut down the Pentagon, & prosecute the whole lot of them for war crimes.

      Ponies. You forgot to demand ponies for everyone.

  24. Shingo
    January 7, 2013, 6:10 pm

    Here’s another pearl.

    EXCLUSIVE – DERSHOWITZ: ‘I WILL TESTIFY AGAINST HAGEL’ ON IRAN
    link to breitbart.com

    • David Samel
      January 8, 2013, 5:10 pm

      Shingo, thanks for the comic relief of a Dershowitz interview. The laughs start at the very beginning, when he says of the Hagel nomination: “I think it’s a policy mistake. And I’m not the only person who thinks its a policy mistake. There are several people within the White House who urged him not to do it.” The interviewer, who clearly is not trying to be combative, asks an obvious follow-up question: “Who were the opposing voices among Democrats and the administration?” Dershowitz replies: “I don’t know for sure. I’ve been told–well, the head of the National Jewish Democratic Council came out against it…but I’m told that an number of others within the White House advised him not to do it.”

      Seriously? First he boasts about his special knowledge that “several people within the White House” advised Obama not to appoint Hagel, and when pressed, he cannot identify a single one. Instead, he claims to have been told by an unidentified individual about these several unidentified WH advisers. He just makes shit up as he goes along, but avoids saying anything that’s easily disprovable. Who can challenge his claim that he was told something about unnamed WH people by someone else who is unnamed?

      Then, Dersh tells us: “I have been approached to testify, possibly, about it. And if asked, I will testify against Hagel’s nomination–on the issue of Iran.” Who approached him? Who does he think might ask him? Hey, I’ll also testify if asked.

      • hophmi
        January 8, 2013, 5:25 pm

        Is it really so surprising that many in the WH would argue against a pick like Hagel? The country supports Iran sanctions. It supports a strong US-Israel relationship. The LGBT community is a major part of the Democratic party. There are many others who could get confirmed without a Congressional fight and do as good a job if not better. These are all reasons why people in the WH would oppose nominating him.

      • Mooser
        January 8, 2013, 6:02 pm

        “Is it really so surprising that many in the WH would argue against a pick like Hagel?”

        Hophmi, after your prize-winning prognistication in the Anthony Weiner imbroglio, I pay special attention to your picks. And when you and Dersh agree…

      • David Samel
        January 8, 2013, 6:11 pm

        hophmi, you miss my point entirely. I would not think it surprising that the Hagel nomination was debated within the WH, and that some advised against it. But you know that and I know that. What I found comical was that Dersh was claiming some special knowledge about this internal debate, but was unable to back it up.

      • Shingo
        January 8, 2013, 7:12 pm

        Is it really so surprising that many in the WH would argue against a pick like Hagel?

        But there haven;’t been. There have been a small number making a lot of noise and shooting themselves in the foot.

        Is it really so surprising that many in the WH would argue against a pick like Hagel?

        Yes it is. Obama would not have floated the trial balloon and nominated Hagel if he didn’t already have the numbers in the Senate. This whole WH insider thing is pure BS.

      • Shingo
        January 8, 2013, 7:11 pm

        My pleasure David,

        I got a kickout that too. This guy sis supposed to be such a lawyer and he’s so bad at giving evidence or testifying.

        And seriously, what does Dersh know about foreign policy, apart from lying about it?

  25. kalithea
    January 7, 2013, 7:02 pm

    Another reason why I don’t trust Obama: He chose Brennan to head up the “Cosa Nostra CIA”. Brennan is not the guy to clean up the CIA that needs a good bleaching job after years of black hole policy. Brennan’s demeanor reminds me of the masked executioner that appears atop the gallows gripping a scary medieval chopping thingy in in gloved hands. Obama chose the KING OF TORTURE AND MASTER DRONE EXECUTIONER – SHAME ON YOU OBAMA! So backward and ignorant!

    • piotr
      January 13, 2013, 9:45 pm

      Dear kalithea: bleaching CIA? At least Obama is not “the most humane Mikado that ever lived in Japan”.

      Basically, the government, besought be the terrified population expanded its power and now it should relinquish some of it without any pressure from the supine courts or terrified Congress. It will take some time, at best.

  26. kalithea
    January 7, 2013, 7:14 pm

    Here’s John Brennan (Obama’s other pick) in his official CIA uniform and gear:

    link to fc01.deviantart.net

  27. cogit8
    January 7, 2013, 9:30 pm

    Let’s also not forget that they have brass-knuckles and play dirty. If they can’t find ‘dirt’ on someone, they may try to find a partisan who will ‘allege’ something dirty in order to blow the nomination out of the water. Wouldn’t surprise me

  28. Kathleen
    January 8, 2013, 12:01 am

    When Israel and the I lobby start to understand that Hagel is one of their better friends by being willing to state facts about the I/P conflict. That his willingness to be honest about the issue shows even more of a commitment to Israel saving their state based on the 67 border. A good friend tells you what they think even if you get pissed

  29. yourstruly
    January 8, 2013, 12:18 am

    & the significance of chuck hagel’s role in all this?

    down to earth?

    sanity resurrected?

  30. Blank State
    January 8, 2013, 12:20 am

    This is theatre. Hagel will withdraw from nomination after the press has once again reminded the ignorant masses that criticism of Israel is actually anti-semitism. And it will send a clear message to the DC maggots that it is political suicide to criticize Israel in any manner, no matter how slight. This will end up being a win for AIPAC. Mark my words.

    Pure theatre, plain and simple.

    • CloakAndDagger
      January 8, 2013, 1:57 am

      Okay – you are on. I’ll take that bet.

      • ritzl
        January 8, 2013, 11:01 am

        Me too C&D. The Kerry nomination for SoS puts two Purple Heart-decorated, notionally anti/less-war, ex combat vets in the two key FP positions. It seems like an intentional pattern, maybe even an attempt at a new policy direction.

  31. ToivoS
    January 8, 2013, 12:44 am

    Getting late here on Monday eve (Tuesday morn for you east coasters) but it is looking like opposition to Hagel is collapsing across the board. AIPAC and Foxman have announced their retreat. If that is real then I suspect we will not see any real enthusiastic opposition from the Repubics. Of course the Lobby may try to go deep underground but that does not seem possible given how public they have already been exposed on this issue.

    All we can do now is pat ourselves on the back for one tiny victory and hope that the Obama admin manages to defuse the Iran crisis (now that would be a big victory).

  32. iResistDe4iAm
    January 8, 2013, 1:05 am

    “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite” ~ senior Republican Senate aide

    Israel Lobby: 274, US government: 001

  33. Taxi
    January 8, 2013, 3:09 am

    Michael Moore’s letter to Bill Kristol:
    link to readersupportednews.org

  34. gazacalling
    January 8, 2013, 12:08 pm

    This is really exciting. I have to think that this pick would not have been possible without this site and Walt and Mearshimer, bravely bringing the AIPAC issue to light.

    Keep up the good work!

  35. Blank State
    January 9, 2013, 12:43 am

    Sooooo…..y’all think that this feckless coward in the White house is suddenly going to sprout balls and take on Congress, AIPAC, MSNBC, Fox, Netanyahu, and all the ignorant slobbering John Q Public jackasses that have been brainwashed into believing that Israel is actually our “most trusted ally”???

    Dream on.

    • sardelapasti
      January 9, 2013, 2:48 am

      Blank State:
      Why should you care if Obama suddenly changes or if pigs suddenly start to fly?
      The job is done, the Zionist lobby has come out of it with a nice gunshot wound in the foot. Even the Onion finally found the courage to take it on, so it doesn’t really make much of a difference if the job finally goes to Hagel or Jabotinsky.

    • American
      January 9, 2013, 10:31 pm

      Well the Hagel fight did one thing that is underestimated or maybe only matters to or was noticed by a few of us……the fighting rank and file of the US military have followed this, gotten a belly full of seeing Hagel smeared as not loyal enough to a foreign country….they didn’t like it.

Leave a Reply