Little news on the Chuck Hagel front. One friend says he’s hoping for Obama to announce his nomination to be Defense Secretary tomorrow. But who knows. Some developments on the mighty power struggle that is the Hagel balloon:
Outgoing congressman Barney Frank “strongly” opposes Chuck Hagel becoming Defense Secretary in the Huffington Post:
Outgoing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced on Monday that he “strongly opposes” the potential nomination of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, due to anti-gay comments the former Republican senator from Nebraska once made.
MJ Rosenberg is cynical: “Barney Frank opposes Hagel. Big surprise. Never deviated from lobby on anything.” Rosenberg says all the Hagel homophobia attacks are cover for Israel. He parodies them:
Alan Dershowitz opposes Hagel: As a law prof, I will not tolerate his views on Marbury v. Madison. He must not be Secretary of Defense.
AIPAC working round the clock to stop Hagel. “Gay rights has always been our top priority. Our first loyalty, even.”
[Update: But two weeks ago in Politico, Frank had a different line:
[Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is Jewish, said he did not object to what has become one big point of contention about Hagel: an allusion to the “Jewish lobby,” in reference to advocates for Israel in Congress and elsewhere. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having Portuguese lobbies, Jewish lobbies, Greek lobbies,” Frank said. “I think he’d be very good. … You need someone intelligent to help cut that budget.”
[“That was 12 days ago,” says Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy. “What, exactly, changed about Hagel’s 1998 remarks in the last twelve
days to make them more egregious? What changed about his voting record in Congress in the last twelve days to make it more egregious?”]
Other legislators: Oklahoma Republican Senator Coburn has come out against Hagel, citing “statements” he’s made, while Illinois Senator Dick Durbin seems open to a nomination.
Meantime, Rightweb, which maintains dossiers on militarists in foreign policy, has just posted new profiles of Hagel’s purported rivals Ashton Carter and Michele Flournoy. They are both neocon-friendly; the dossiers remind us that neoconservatism is deeply engrained in the D.C. establishment, including Chez Obama.
The profile of Carter makes him out to be an Iran hawk with deep ties to the defense industry. “Carter has been adamant in his insistence that the United States consider the use of force in its efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs.”
He was part of a 2008 report on Iran, coauthored by a bunch of neoconservatives, that Jim Lobe characterized as a “roadmap to war.” Notice the coauthors from the neoconservative Hudson Institute and American Enterprise Institute, and Dennis Ross, too:
Carter was one of several future Obama appointees who served on a Michael Makovsky-ledteam that approved a controversial report on Iran published by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). A lead drafter of the report—titled “Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development”—was the American Enterprise Institute fellow Michael Rubin, an outspoken proponent of militarist U.S. policies in the Middle East. Other participants included Henry Sokolski; WINEP scholar and Obama adviser Dennis Ross; Stephen Rademaker, the husband of AEI’s Danielle Pletka who worked under John Bolton in the State Department; and Kenneth Weinstein, CEO of the Hudson Institute.
The report argued that despite Iran’s assurances to the contrary, its nuclear program aims to develop nuclear weapons and is thus a threat to “U.S. and global security, regional stability, and the international nonproliferation regime,” a conclusion that contrasted sharply with the CIA’s November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that Iran had put its efforts to develop nuclear warheads on hold. The report stated, “As a new president prepares to occupy the Oval Office, the Islamic Republic’s defiance of its Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards obligations and United Nations Security Council resolutions will be among the greatest foreign policy and national security challenges confronting the nation.” In contrast to many realist assessments of the situation, the report contended that “Cold War deterrence” is not persuasive in the context of Iran’s program, due in large measure to the “Islamic Republic’s extremist ideology.” Thus, even a peaceful uranium enrichment program would place the entire Middle East region “under a cloud of ambiguity given uncertain Iranian capacities and intentions.”
The profile of Michele Flournoy at rightweb says she is the darling of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists. Notably, in 2003 she was a contributor to a study by the Progressive Policy Institute that mirrored the militarist projections of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century. “Like the Cold War, the struggle we face today is likely to last not years but decades.” PPI is home to Josh Block, the tireless Israel lobbyist first at AIPAC now at the Israel Project (who seeks to smear Hagel supporters as anti-Semites; “who’s next, Cynthia McKinney’s father”– a reference to a claim that Jews defeated McKinney in congressional race in 2006). Here’s a portion of the Flournoy report– notice that we are married to Israel, notice that she was far more militant than Hagel, who argued for negotiation, in speaking to the Atlantic Council:
The conservative Times of Israel reported in December 2012 that talk of Flournoy’s nomination had been “welcomed by conservative and pro-Israel groups,” in part because of Flournoy’s familiarity with Israeli security issues like the Iron Dome missile shield, regional arms sales, “and the importance of Israel’s military edge over its neighbors.”..
Numerous right-wing and neoconservative actors have also promoted Flournoy’s candidacy because of their opposition to leading nominee Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator known for his bipartisanship as well as his criticism of one-sided U.S. support for Israel.
Reported the New Republic in late December 2012: “Flournoy—the Pentagon’s former under secretary of defense for policy, and the head of Obama’s transition team for the Department of Defense—has become the name that conservatives have floated as an alternative to Obama’s rumored pick to replace Leon Panetta: Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, whom Republicans have never forgiven for his role as one of the Iraq war’s greatest critics and his occasional endorsements of Democrats. Flournoy’s apparent supporters now include the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol (who essentially argued that she wouldn’t be as objectionable as Hagel), former George W. Bush administration Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and [Mitt Romney] foreign policy adviser Dan Senor.
Although she is sometimes characterized as a “liberal realist” who seeks to reign in the United States’ global ambitions, Flournoy also believes that the U.S. military “is a force for good abroad” and has pushed to maintain American forces in places like Iraq, In a December 2012 speech to the Atlantic Council, she warned against cutbacks to counterinsurgency planning as the war in Afghanistan winds down. “We have to be careful not to fall into the Vietnam Syndrome where we believe we’ll never do that again,” she said.
Comparing her Atlantic Council speech to that of Chuck Hagel, one reporter wrote: “Flournoy spoke at an Atlantic Council forum a day after another possible choice for Pentagon boss, former Republican Senator and current Atlantic Council chairman Chuck Hagel, addressed the same group. The difference in approaches was illuminating. Hagel, a former member of the Senate committees on foreign relations and intelligence, emphasized a diplomatic approach to emerging global threats through ‘engagement.’ Flournoy, a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, focused on the military.
Foreign policy hawks have frequently commented on Flournoy’s hawkish tendencies…
Regarding the U.S.-Israeli relationship, Flournoy told the Jerusalem Post that it was “like a marriage,” and that despite some differences over policy, America’s commitment to Israel’s security was “unshakable.”