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The Hagel Dossier

A few TAC items to bookmark as the nomination of the former Nebraska senator as the next secretary of defense proceeds:

Scott McConnell — “The Hagel Brand [1]

As Secretary of Defense, even in an Obama administration, Hagel will become one of the three or four most visible and prominent Republicans in the country. Moreover, he is an exemplary representative of a political type which used to be prominent, when the party was far stronger nationally; a type which has since become nearly invisible, to the party’s great detriment. Hagel is essentially an Eisenhower Republican [2]–a fiscal conservative, with combat experience in war, roots in the American heartland, and an awareness that it is far easier to get into wars than get out of them.

Noah Millman  — “A Brief Word About Hagel [3]

if we’re actually going to trim military expenditures, we need someone at Defense who isn’t captive to the interests who want to keep spending at a maximum. Whatever else Hagel may or may not be, he is somebody who has publicly called for cutting defense spending.

Daniel Larison — “Hagel and the Democratic Advantage on National Secuirty [4]

Obama hasn’t had to do much to broaden the Democratic tent on foreign policy. He has simply had to be less aggressive and somewhat more competent than his predecessor, whose foreign policy record was so woeful that the Democratic tent on foreign policy was bound to grow for many years afterward. That tent was already expanding before Obama was a presidential candidate. That’s why Jim Webb switched parties in 2006, and why the Republican advantage on foreign policy was already long gone by the time Obama was sworn in.

Pat Buchanan — “Why the War Party Fears Chuck Hagel [5]

Neocon hostility to Hagel is rooted in a fear that in Obama’s inner councils his voice would be raised in favor of negotiating with Iran and against a preventive war or pre-emptive strike. But if Obama permits these assaults to persuade him not to nominate Hagel, he will only be postponing a defining battle of his presidency, not avoiding it.

And Kelley Vlahos’s in-depth 2007 cover profile, “Hagel’s Dilemma [6].”

Iraq is something that Hagel likes to talk about—a lot. But it’s not what the CPAC faithful wanted to hear. In a recent interview in his Senate office, he explained why being conservative and condemning the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq—and in broader terms, Bush’s foreign policy in the Muslim world—aren’t mutually exclusive.

“Conservatives, I’ve always known, like this guy up there,” he said, gesturing to a framed picture of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “and Reagan, Goldwater, and others—[Sen. Robert] Taft, Mr. Conservative—were very protective in conserving our resources. And what is more significant in a country’s resource inventory than its people, its army? I think we have used our military recklessly and carelessly. I don’t think that’s conservative.” He continued, “I find it fascinating sometimes when I am challenged on this. I think I am the real conservative on the Iraq debate here.”

President Bush’s loyal congressional supporters, bolstered by the base, beg to differ. They find Hagel’s brand of realist internationalism, his hammering away at the Iraq policy as a misbegotten adventure akin to the Vietnam War he nearly died in, quite noisome. They’ve called him an appeaser, a traitor even. A personally popular senator with 35-year-old ties to the Republican Party, his detractors have done everything to marginalize him.

See also Paul Gottfried on one of his detractors’ more curious attempts [7]: the neoconservative effort to apply a gay-rights litmus test against Hagel.

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#1 Comment By TomB On January 8, 2013 @ 8:58 am

While the most important aspect of the Hagel nomination is the pushing of war with Iran further away, and the most delicious aspect of it is the pushing in the nose of the neo-cons, the most potentially politically valuable aspect of it lies elsewhere.

That is, the most valuable is the ability now to turn to all those good, non-neo-con supporters of blind obedience to Israel—the rock-ribbed conservative types, the quasi-religiously inspired and etc. of the sort whooped up by Lindsay Graham and McCain—and ask them to now see where the neo-cons have led them.

I.e., to … denouncing and smearing an unimpeachably patriotic, decorated, Purple-Heart-earning U.S. combat veteran from Vietnam … for the sake of another country’s interests.

Denounced and smeared by people who in the overwhelming main have never served, whose children would never consider serving, by people even whose very citizenship status is unclear (calling Bret Stephens), and whose only apparent recent talent is calling for ever more American money and arms to be sent over to Israel and ever more American boys to be sent over to ever more meat-grinders in the Middle East.

Let Lindsay and McCain explain this to ’em.

#2 Comment By Ed Crotty On January 8, 2013 @ 10:33 am

“Hagel is essentially an Eisenhower Republican” -not really a surprise, Obama’s whole political philosophy would historically be considered as a moderate Republican.

#3 Comment By Michael O’Connor On January 8, 2013 @ 11:00 am

The shrill opposition by republicans to Hagel’s nomination is embarrassing & just serves to further divide the party. Democrats will fall in line with Obama. It’s a brilliant pick on his part.

#4 Comment By T. Sledge On January 8, 2013 @ 11:21 am

Chuck Hegel’s refusal to genuflect to the likes of Trudy Rubin and Bill Kristol is no more “anti-Semitic” than Barack Obama’s refusal to genuflect to the likes of Tavis Smiley and Cornel West is “anti-black”.

Hagel’s refusal to smooch the backsides of the Israel Lobby is no more “biased” than Barack Obama’s refusal to suck up to Jessie Jackson, the self-appointed spokesman for Black America.

Israel is an ALLY, it is NOT the fifty first state, and it would do both Israel and OURSELVES a world of good if it and its advocates would GET THAT.

Israel has “interests” and so do we, and one of those interests is not to be seen and not to be in reality a party to telling 1.5 million people who can trace their ancestry to the same plot of land for 1500 years that they have NO RIGHTS in that land.

Our “complex” position should be, to tell Hezbollah and their advocates that we will under no circumstances allow a military defeat of Israel, and that is reality that you are just going to have to live with. At the same time we should tell the Israelis that we are not in the business of guaranteeing biblical land grabs, so that “Judea and Samaria” fable of the Greater Israel crowd and the bible thumping nitwits in this country is equally a non starter.

Now that we have laid out reality children, let the adults tell you how you are going to share this glorified sand box.

#5 Comment By steve in ohio On January 8, 2013 @ 11:21 am

Obama a moderate Republican like Eisenhower?! Ike would be horrified by trillion dollar per year deficits and while he didn’t try to repeal the New Deal, he did not add any new entitlements during his two terms. He and Reagan would rank as the two most conservative post war presidents.

#6 Comment By Clint On January 8, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Several former U.S. ambassadors to Israel and top diplomats threw their support behind Chuck Hagel’s nomination.

Here’s their open letter of support for Chuck Hagel.


#7 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

I will continue to reiterate this point, the invasion of Afgahnistan and Iraq, were in error on several different levels. but they would not have been possible without the events of 9/11.

Given that backdrop and the state in which it left the country, it is unfair to not to include that reality into any assessment of those endevours. I find it quite discomforting that this policy supported by both houses of congress, nearly all political parties, left and right, should be laid soley at the feet of President Bush.

A policy which is still maintained and in many respects expanded by the current administration.

That said, my position on Hagel remains: he should not become a tool of this adminstration — which refuses to take responsibility for any polcity failure they have engaged. That is of course most of their policy choices.

#8 Comment By John D King On January 8, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

It’s only an incidental matter, but Vlahos is dead wrong to include Goldwater in his list, for he was as much a warmonger as McCain.

And, Israel is not only not the 51st state but is only dubiously an ally. I keep hearing what dependable friends the Israelis are, but not what benefits they have conferred on us. That is because there haven’t been any.

#9 Comment By James Canning On January 8, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

There are many foolish politicians in Washington who do not like Hagel to remind the American people of just how foolish these politicians were, in bringing on the invasion of Iraq based on obviously fabricated “evidence”.

#10 Comment By James Canning On January 8, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

T. Sledge – – Hezbollah has made clear it will not attack Israel unless Israel attacks Lebanon.

There is always a danger that a missile could be launched from Lebanon against Israel, by a party acting against the orders of Hezbollah.

#11 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 8, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

I do understand his deep and abiding response to serve when called regardless of who is occupying the WH. Each person must abide ultimatey to their own conscience.