The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

The Hagel Nomination, Israel, and the Neocons

with 5 comments

By Stephen J. Sniegoski
The Passionate Attachment
February 16, 2012

I have included a link to my discussion on Jeff Blankfort’s radio program—“Takes on the World” (KZYX in Mendocino, Calif.)—which aired on Wednesday, February 13, and focused on the nomination of Chuck Hagel.

Blankfort is an excellent host and offered a number of insightful comments on Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense and the strategy of the Israel lobby on the issue. At the time (Feb. 13), expert (mainstream) opinion had thought that the debate on the floor of the full Senate (Hagel had made it through the Senate Armed Services Committee) would be quickly ended by the required 60 votes (the actual confirmation vote only requires a majority). However, this proved not to be the case on Thursday (Feb. 14), though the cloture vote was very tight—58-40 in favor. At first it was 59-39, with one “present” vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat) would switch his vote to “no,” which apparently was necessary in order to remain eligible to request another vote. That next vote can take place after the Senate returns from a 10-day recess.

The neoconservatives have been in the forefront in attacking Hagel while AIPAC has stayed in the background. While this means that the effort has not been as strong as it could be, it has also been of help to the overall Israel lobby, since it is virtually out of the picture as far as the mainstream media is concerned. The main opposition to Hagel is now described as simply Republican. And the reason the Republicans are doing this is attributed to many different things: their view of Hagel as a turncoat because of his opposition to the President Bush; their desire to undermine Obama’s policies because of their hatred for him; their opposition to Hagel’s allegedly soft positions on the Middle East, and especially Iran; their desire to cause more damage on the Benghazi issue. Commentator Chris Matthews boils it all down to simple right-wing Republican nastiness. Although the Israel issue was noted when the attack on Hagel began more than a month ago, Israel now is barely mentioned. Should the neocons ultimately stop Hagel, it would be an amazing success. A perceived enemy of Israeli interests would be defeated without any negative political ramifications for Israel or the Israel lobby—in fact, with hardly anyone even knowing that the Israel lobby was involved.

That the neocons have had such a great impact in making things difficult for Hagel, and still could bring about his defeat, illustrates their great power. Experts are predicting that Hagel will be confirmed when Congress returns, as a number of Republican Senators have said that after a short debate they will allow a vote to take place, with no attempt to filibuster to prevent Hagel’s confirmation. This is probably most likely, but it is possible that the neocon smearbund, which is unrelenting in its effort to find more dirt on Hagel by putting his finances and speeches under a microscope, could still bring him down. Hagel has been willing to withstand a high degree of character assassination so far, but how much more is he willing to take? And when will Obama and his political advisors come to believe that Hagel has become too wounded to be an asset to the administration? It should be recalled that the very threat of character assassination by the Israel lobby caused Bobby Ray Inman to withdraw as Bill Clinton’s nominee as Secretary of Defense in 1994 and for Chas Freeman to withdraw from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council in 2009.

It should be pointed out that if supposed (former?) antiwar libertarian Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) had not become so desirous of placating the Israel lobby, Christian Zionists, and his fellow Republican senators, the 60 votes to end the debate would have been attained, and Hagel would have almost certainly obtained a majority vote in the Senate to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

Stephen J. Sniegoski is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel. He contributed this article to The Passionate Attachment.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

February 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. regardless of Israel and neocons Hagel is on the board for Chevron, that to me means conflict of interest period … they’re all bought and paid for, Hagel is no different

    carinaragno

    February 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm

  2. Unfortunately, given the past comments, or lack of same from the likes of Chomsky, Finkelstein, Bennis, and Democracy Now!, the pro-Israel Senate hatchet team that made a mess of Hagel has nothing to fear from what passes for the Left in the US, at least if one considers Chomsky to be part of it (as opposed to being what I think he is, i.e., an invaluable asset for Israel and its US network).

    How else would one explain this email response to me when I asked for his opinion of the Hagel witch hunt and if he was planning to write about it? Wrote Chomsky:

    “I see no point repeating what’s on the front pages and the airwaves. And I have no interest in joining your efforts to protect the real centers of power in the US.”

    Apparently, Chomsky does not see the Jewish establishment, with its control over Congress and over the leading “think tanks” in Washington DC as a center of power while accusing those who do of being not just on the wrong trail but working for the enemy .

    This is the same Chomsky who opposed referring to Israel’s system of rule over the Palestinians as “apartheid” because the term is too “inflammatory,” and opposes sanctions against Israel because the Israeli public would oppose them. (sic)

    Jeff Blankfort

    February 17, 2013 at 7:05 am

  3. Very good analysis. At one point early on, Hagel was confronted by the Senate Committee and ordered to name one Senator who he believed to be in AIPAC’s pocket. Hagel did not reply. I fervently wish he had replied “I won’t know until I see who filibusters the vote or votes against my nomination, then we will all know”. But that is not how people act in Washington: one cannot speak frankly, even when the obvious is dangling for all to see. I just hope Obama stays strong and continues to stand up to Bibi. As an aside, I think the revelations about “Prisoner X” Ben Zygier’s case in Australia show that the US is apparently not alone in terms of Israeli influence undermining basic citizen interests. The whole situation seems to terrifying for most people to even dare address it. And those who do will pay a price, one way or another.

    Gwenyth Todd

    February 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

  4. When asked by the oily Graham to “give one example of a senator being intimidated by the Jewish or Israel Lobby,” Hagel should have said, “Me, right now, facing this inquisition, senator,” and when asked “what dumb thing it made us do,” he should have pointed to it pushing the US into making war on Iraq. It would have ended his nomination, of course, but it might have forced those who have kept their mouths shut and pretended it was a war for oil to face the truth.

    Jeff Blankfort

    February 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm

  5. That would have been good too. I really wish Hagel had said something pointed. Perhaps he was under instructions not to appear bellicose in order to have the members ofthe committee show their true colors (in this case blue and white), but if that is the case then the Administration should have had a plan in place to focus media attention on the question. People’s attention needs to be drawn to it repeatedly, especially now.

    Gwenyth Todd

    February 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm


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