Sen. *'s weird views of Israel
Prejudice—like cooking, wine-tasting and other consummations—has an olfactory element. When Chuck Hagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska who is now a front-runner to be the next secretary of Defense, carries on about how "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," the odor is especially ripe.
In 2002, a year in which 457 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks (a figure proportionately equivalent to more than 20,000 fatalities in the U.S., or seven 9/11s), Mr. Hagel weighed in with the advice that "Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace." This was two years after Yasser Arafat had been offered a state by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David.
In 2006, Mr. Hagel described Israel's war against Hezbollah as "the systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon." He later refused to sign a letter calling on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In 2007, he voted against designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, and also urged President Bush to open "direct, unconditional" talks with Iran to create "a historic new dynamic in U.S.-Iran relations." In 2009, Mr. Hagel urged the Obama administration to open direct talks with Hamas.
In fairness to Mr. Hagel, all these positions emerge from his belief in the power of diplomatic engagement and talking with adversaries. The record of that kind of engagement—in 2008, Mr. Hagel and John Kerry co-authored an op-ed in this newspaper titled "It's Time to Talk to Syria"—hasn't been stellar, but at least it was borne of earnest motives.
Yet it's worth noting that while Mr. Hagel is eager to engage the world's rogues without preconditions, his attitude toward Israel tends, at best, to the paternalistic.I think people like Hagel and Kerry are dangerously naive. We are all still waiting to see Syria's Assad's moderate side. We are still waiting for engagement with Iran to render something besides continued threats toward the US and Iran's neighbors.
BTW, I labeled Chuck Hagel Sen. * when he floated several trial balloons about running for President in 2008, and failed to register more than one percent in the polls that tend to group those in that category with an *. Hagel opposed the surge which put him on the side of Democrats who were wrong about the strategy.
He will make a lousy Secretary of Defense. What makes him think that Hezballah is a friend of the US?