The fascinating thing about whether or not former Republican senator Chuck Hagel is the next US Secretary of Defense or not is what the determining or important factors in the process will be.
And those determining factors are somewhat staggering when one considers what the purview of an American Defense Secretary is in this day and age. I mean there is so much on that person’s plate. There is the ongoing implosion in Syria, the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons, the instability and unpredictability of so much of the Arab world, the need to cut the overflowing and overwhelming American defense budget, extricating American forces from Afghanistan and so on, just to name a few.
But what is it that Mr. Hagel will have to answer for most when he appears at confirmation hearing before the US Senate—how he feels about Israel and Jews. Apparently Hagel as a senator was wont to refer to the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the “Jewish lobby” instead of the Israel lobby, and said on record that he and others in DC find “the Jewish lobby intimidating”. While those terms may seem innocuous and even interchangeable, the fashion in which Mr. Hagel used the terms generated and is once again generating real concern.
It is important to note that Aipac ostensibly exists to of course promote strong support on the part of the American Jewish community and elected officials in Washington for a strong and independent state of Israel. More than anything it is about maintaining the visible fact that a strong Israel is vital to American strategic interests. When an elected senator—or any official—like Hagel tries to marginalize the strategic important of the UIS-Israel relationship by referring to Aipac at the “Jewish lobby” in conjures the stereotypes associated with the canard of Jewish power and influence in the American political process.
So the phrase—Jewish lobby—may seem simple and just used for identification purposes, but in this second tem of Barrack Obama and with the agenda he is suspected by many of harboring, the selection of Mr. Hagel to such a prominent foreign policy position raises both eyebrows and concern for many.
So there are really two things going on here. The first is the question of the suitability of Mr. Hagel to serve in such a prominent and influential administration post at this particular time in history and what, if any, is his issue with the political activities of American Jews and the way those actions interface with American support for Israel.
Additionally troubling is the Hagel remark when he was in the Senate, saying that he was a United States Senator, not a Senator representing the state of Israel. On top of all this are we off base if we assume that the selection of Mr. Hagel to serve as Defense Secretary by Mr. Obama is simply reflective of what the president would like his policies to be going forward over the next four years.
Critics of Mr. Hagel like Fox news analyst and founder of The Emergency Committee for Israel, William Kristol, feel that for a series of reasons Hagel is not qualified to serve in the position he has been nominated for. Kristol cites Hagel’s comments about the Jewish lobby and his position on whether to allow the Iran nuclear program to go forward—Hagel has voiced the opinion that he would prefer that the US not intervene too extensively in the Iranian nuclear issue.
Elliot Abrams a former national security adviser to George W. Bush went even further in his personal criticism of Mr. Hagel when he told NPR last week that he believes that Chuck Hagel is an anti-Semite who has, “some kind of problem with Jews.” And Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said last week that the Hagel nomination, “is an in your face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel.”
So what is the worst case scenario and what is it that motivates the president to make an appointment that will only serve to exacerbate an already volatile situation between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Amongst other things it seems that for Barrack Obama there is no end to the political gamesmanship and manipulative motivations. As we are seeing on the issue of tax increases and health care coverage, it is a matter of routine to Mr. Obama to express a position on a matter and then go ahead and implement a policy that results in the exact opposite.