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Obama gets backup from broad center-left group to defy neocons and nominate Hagel


Centrists and liberals are trying to buck up Barack Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel for secretary of Defense in defiance of the rightwing Israel lobby.

Last night to try and give the parsimonious president some political capital, Chris Matthews described the anti-Hagel camp as a small group of warmongering neocons and cited the many ambassadors supporting Hagel before hosting two Hagel backers, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. Matthews used Milbank, who is Jewish (and who listens to his Israeli au pair for political wisdom), to protect Hagel from his statement to Aaron David Miller that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people” on Capitol Hill (which I was the first to report more than four years ago).

Meantime, many others have joined in in this neocon donnybrook. The most important below are Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Jeffrey Goldberg. Both are weathervaners, and Obama believes that Goldberg leads a good slice of the lobby, and he’s probably right.

Robert Wright performs a wrapup of those who have supported Hagel (and p.s., you should read his post for a defense of a single democracy from river to sea):

Already, Hagel has been defended by a strikingly diverse array of voices, including… Dana Milbank of the Washington Post; John Judis of The New Republic; Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast; Scott McConnell and Daniel Larison of The American Conservative; the progressive pro-Israel group J Street; the Center for American Progress blog ThinkProgress; Stephen Walt of Foreign Policy and Harvard; Steve Clemons of The Atlantic and the New America Foundation; Jim Fallows of The Atlantic; Emily Hauser of Open Zion; Marsha B. Cohen and Jim Lobe at LobeblogNicholas Kristof of The New York Times; Clyde Prestowitz, formerly US Trade Representative in a Republican administration, in Foreign Policy; Robert Merry at The National Interest; former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer; and former U.S. Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller (author of the book in which Hagel’s “Jewish Lobby” quote appears). Update: Also, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Update, 12/20: A bunch of former US ambassadors–including five former ambassadors to Israel–have now written a letter saying Hagel has “impeccable” credentials to be secretary of defense: Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to NATO and Greece; Ryan Crocker, former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan; Edward Djerejian, former Ambassador to Israel and Syria; William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel; Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt; Sam Lewis, former Ambassador to Israel; William H. Luers, former Ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia; Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Israel and Russia; Frank G. Wisner, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Ambassador to Egypt and India.

A despairing Jeffrey Goldberg has come out for Hagel so as to save Israel from itself:

Maybe, at this point, what we need are American officials who will speak with disconcerting bluntness to Israel about the choices it is making. If the Jewish Home party becomes a key part of Netanyahu’s right-wing ruling coalition, you can be assured that there will not [be] compromise coming in the forseeable future (it’s almost impossible to forsee compromise now.) Maybe the time has come to redefine the term “pro-Israel” to include… the straightest of straight talk about Israel’s self-destructive policies on the West Bank. Maybe Hagel, who is not bound to old models, could be useful in this regard. And yes, I write this with some measure of despair.

And the Wall Street Journal says Republican opposition is growing, and is quoting Zbig Brzezinski challenging Obama to stand up for Hagel and do it soon.

“I find that [Obama’s failure to comment], unfortunately, a symptom of being not willing to stand up for people you want to surround yourself with. . . .That’s not a good way to protect presidential territory. . . .I would say: Make an announcement that Kerry and [Hagel] are the team that he wants, and let’s see where the chips fall.”

Adds a friend: “In a political contest–(barring election campaigns, he has only fought such a contest to the end on one issue ever)–Obama needs 24-karat reassurance before he can tie his shoes. He is waiting for that, on Hagel, but it won’t ever get past 12 karat on this. He has never yet fought hard for anyone or anything that is not immediately connected with his own reputation and his political survival.”

Andrew Sullivan has led the rallying for Hagel on the left. He and Chris Matthews have focused on Bill Kristol and his latest toxic video for the Emergency Committee For Israel:

Sullivan, a fearless master marksman (as Annie phrases it), prowls with the grace of a famished panther then deftly goes for the jugular:

Kristol believes Greater Israel should always be backed by the US – including its neo-fascist ethnic social engineering on the West Bank, now once again put on steroids by its unhinged prime minister, essentially ending any pretense of good faith with its European allies. President Obama supports the long-standing US view that there should be a two-state solution, along 1967 lines with land swaps. Kristol supports illegal settlements.

So why does Kristol merit any conceivable interest in a re-elected Obama’s cabinet appointees? Why are we even talking about someone who has done so much damage to his own country and so much damage to Israel internationally, a man who has the blood of thousands of innocents in Iraq on his hands and appears to feel not a twinge of conscience, let alone introspection?

And yet here we have this ad, seen above, and an orchestrated campaign (you think [Fred] Hiatt didn’t get the memo or didn’t even need to?) to dictate the policy and cabinet picks of the newly elected president. You ask: where do they get the gall? The “Emergency Committee For Israel”, which sponsors the ad, contains in its very name a distillation of the paranoia and fantasy that is undermining a sane foreign policy for the United States, while supporting every suicidal, tribal, fundamentalist tendency in an increasingly isolated and fundamentalist Israel.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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19 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo on December 21, 2012, 11:10 am

    Average American Joe says. ENOUGH OF THIS ISRAEL MALARKEY.

    WTF is Hagel running for. Israeli DM

    • rensanceman
      rensanceman on December 21, 2012, 12:47 pm

      What caught my attention was Goldberg’s concession that Israel is self-destructing because of its Zionist inspired actions that defy Universal codes of morality e.g. Settlement building, Operation…., killing journalist, defying U.N. Resolutions…My belief and hope is that when the World knows the facts about the creation of Israel, the Nakba, false flag operations against the U.S., Occupation atrocities, et al all of God’s children with a.heart will turn against this aberrant historical criminal enterprise and demand Justice. Our job: educating the public, hounding our politicians, injecting our viewpoints in public forums. Israel –yes ; Zionism–no.

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont on December 21, 2012, 11:45 am

    Kristol has the blood of thousands of Iraqis on his hands? I mean USA does (at Kristol’s and other neocons’ urging)?

    Does this mean that the 26 or so folks who died in Connecticut the other day are NOT the only people recently killed by the senseless violence of megalomaniac psychopaths?

    And does this mean that N’hu will not be re-elected because he will be seen to have “lost it” with the USA and the Europeans? (Or, au contraire, does that assure his re-election?)

  3. Citizen
    Citizen on December 21, 2012, 12:05 pm

    This whole thing is going over the heads of every Dick and Jane Goy American I know. They have no clue at all.

    • Pamela Olson
      Pamela Olson on December 22, 2012, 7:12 pm

      95% of what goes on in Washington goes over the head of 95% of Americans. I didn’t really understand the place until I worked there, and it’s a lot different than most people think. The news doesn’t tell us crap. They give us the G-rated cartoon version.

  4. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride on December 21, 2012, 12:07 pm

    This is where the struggle over the potential Chuck Hagel nomination stands to date. All of the Chuck Hagel opponents are militant Likud Zionists — Israel Firsters. (For Semantic Web ethusiasts, like Mooser, I’ll post this with the raw code, where c; *category; *instance.)

    # Chuck Hagel: opponents and supporters
    1. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Abraham Foxman
    2. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Adam Kredo
    3. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
    4. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; AEI (American Enterprise Institute)
    5. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
    6. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; AJC (American Jewish Committee)
    7. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Alana Goodman
    8. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Algemeiner
    9. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Bret Stephens
    10. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Caroline Glick
    11. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Center for American Freedom
    12. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Commentary Magazine
    13. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; CSP (Center for Security Policy)
    14. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Daily Kos
    15. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Daniel Greenfield
    16. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Daniel Mandel
    17. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Debbie Schlussel
    18. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; ECI (Emergency Committee for Israel)
    19. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Ed Koch
    20. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Elliott Abrams
    21. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Frank Gaffney
    22. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Fred Hiatt
    23. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Frontpage Magazine
    24. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Gil Troy
    25. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Ira Forman
    26. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Jackson Diehl
    27. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; James Inhofe
    28. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Jeff Dunetz (Yid with Lid)
    29. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Jennifer Rubin
    30. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Jerusalem Post
    31. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Joe Lieberman
    32. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; John McCain
    33. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Josh Block
    34. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Lindsey Graham
    35. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Matt Brooks
    36. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Michael Rubin
    37. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Morris Amitay
    38. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Morton Klein
    39. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Nathaniel Botwinick
    40. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; National Review
    41. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council)
    42. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Noah Silverman
    43. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Open Zion
    44. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Pamela Geller
    45. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Paul Mirengoff
    46. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Philip Klein
    47. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Power Line
    48. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Rich Lowry
    49. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Rick Richman
    50. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition)
    51. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Shmuel Rosner
    52. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; The Israel Project
    53. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Times of Israel
    54. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Washington Free Beacon
    55. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Washington Post
    56. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Washington Times
    57. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; Weekly Standard
    58. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; William Kristol
    59. c; anti-Chuck Hagel; ZOA (Zionist Organization of America)
    60. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Aaron David Miller
    61. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; American Conservative
    62. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Andrew Sullivan
    63. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Brent Scowcroft
    64. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Cato Institute
    65. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Chris Matthews
    66. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Chris Preble
    67. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Clyde Prestowitz
    68. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Dana Milbank
    69. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Daniel Kurtzer
    70. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Daniel Larison
    71. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Doug Bandow
    72. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Edward Djerejian
    73. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Emily Hauser
    74. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Frank Wisner
    75. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; J Street
    76. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Jacob Heilbrunn
    77. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; James Fallows
    78. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Jeffrey Goldberg
    79. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Jim Lobe
    80. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Marsha Cohen
    81. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Mondoweiss
    82. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; National Interest
    83. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Nicholas Burns
    84. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Paul Pillar
    85. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Richard Armitage
    86. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Robert Merry
    87. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Robert Wright
    88. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Ryan Crocker
    89. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Sam Lewis
    90. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Scott McConnell
    91. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Stephen Walt
    92. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Steve Clemons
    93. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Think Progress
    94. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; Thomas Pickering
    95. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; William Harrop
    96. c; pro-Chuck Hagel; William Luers

    Corrections and additions welcome.

    Open Zion isn’t exclusively anti-Chuck Hagel — but it did publish that obnoxious Hagel hit piece by Gil Troy.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on December 21, 2012, 2:31 pm

      “I’ll post this with the raw code, where c; *category; *instance.)”

      Thanks, I’ve alwatys heard about “coding” and computers, know I know what it means! And there’s no denying that those little code “c”s mean “category”. You win, as usual. I just cannot fight “machines of great cognitive power’. It’s like being a toad and getting eton under the harrow.

    • freespeechlover
      freespeechlover on December 21, 2012, 3:01 pm

      Yes. The Gil Troy hit piece was obnoxious.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on December 21, 2012, 3:46 pm


      Liberman, McCain, Graham AND Daylikos?

      • Egbert
        Egbert on December 22, 2012, 6:51 am

        “Liberman, McCain, Graham AND Daylikos?”

        Small fry. Where’s the Whiner of Mess Distraction – The Dersh?

  5. radii
    radii on December 21, 2012, 2:02 pm

    Obama would not purposely set himself up for another smack-down from israel unless it is part of a plan to expose to a broader American public the nefarious and seemingly total control the israeli lobby and its israeli-firster Americans have over our policy – if Hagel is run-off then the public gets another example served up to them of this reality … For Obama to do so as a plan seems a bit oblique and too-cute-by-half … more likely Obama is actually going to fight this out and Hagel is too … it will be fun

  6. Les
    Les on December 21, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Too little and too late. Obama will not be nominating Hagel because of the early and steady push by the familiar mob.

  7. gingershot
    gingershot on December 21, 2012, 3:11 pm

    With Chuck Hagel in at Sec at Defense there will be no war on Iran – with no war on Iran – Israeli Apartheid is LOST

    Just witness the Neocon desperation over the Hagel appointment – it speaks volumes and is the same desperation exhibited by Netanyahu last fall as he was stopped from pushing the US into war with Iran –

    And see what happened after Netanyahu was stopped…..

    Miracle of all Miracles – a Palestinian state was born

    Why? – precisely BECAUSE Israel pulling off a major regional war engulfing America FAILED – does everybody see that?

    The progress at the UN with creation of the Palestinian ‘good enough for the ICC-state’ – the tremendous pressure now being exerted on Israel currently with Fortress Apartheid beginning to collapse – all of this is BECAUSE we prevented Israel from pushing us into a war with Iran.

    The Israeli/Netanyahu plan on Iran GONE AWRY is what is making all the progress with Palestine possible – thus the Neocons with their desperate last ditch efforts to get the Iran plan back on track.

    They literally have nothing to lose – if they fail stopping this nomination they won’t get Iran, and if they don’t get Iran they will LOSE Apartheid

    The Hagel appointment means ‘no war on Iran’ and ‘no war on Iran’ means the END of Israeli Apartheid – this is the secret – this is why the Neocons are on rampage

  8. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on December 21, 2012, 4:53 pm

    RE: “Centrists and liberals are trying to buck up Barack Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel for secretary of Defense in defiance of the rightwing Israel lobby.” ~ Weiss & Robbins

    ● RELEVANT PETITION: Urging the Obama administration to nominate Hagel and fight for his confirmation.
    TO SIGN –

    ● RELEVANT FACEBOOK PAGE: Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense
    TO “LIKE” –

  9. ToivoS
    ToivoS on December 21, 2012, 5:44 pm

    Since this is the latest Hagel thread let me repeat:

    Show your support sign the petition that is directed to Obama.

  10. mcohen
    mcohen on December 21, 2012, 9:42 pm

    annie and phil bettet read this before you do another greta regreta

  11. crone
    crone on December 22, 2012, 12:16 am

    Thanks to Dickerson and ToivoS for links to petition…

  12. biorabbi
    biorabbi on December 22, 2012, 2:27 am

    Phil, Annie, am I reading the announcement of Kerry today(without Hagel)as a weakening of the Obama position on Hagel. There is no mention of this failure to announce him today. As for behind the scenes action, I would bet there is quite a bit of this happening by Schumer et al.

    • annie
      annie on December 22, 2012, 9:10 pm

      There is no mention of this failure to announce him today.

      good point biorabbi, it completely slipped my mind.

      btw, important , somehow we forgot to link to sullivan’s awesome post. (my bad). i just added the link so please everyone descend on his website en mass and read his excellent post because we only blockquoted some of it and it should be read in full.

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