- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

If That’s The ‘Mainstream’…

I heard Sen. Lindsey Graham on the radio the other day saying that Chuck Hagel is outside the American “mainstream” on his foreign policy and defense views. I don’t believe that’s true for a second, but in any case, I agree with Andrew Sullivan [1], who says, “Who would want to be in the mainstream in Washington in the first decade of the 21st century?”

Here’s TAC’s Daniel Larison on an anti-Hagel rant [2] by the tiresome and unaccountably petulant Peter Lawler:

This is just extremely poor analysis. No one is playing a “trick” on Republican hawks. They could refrain from panicking over the Hagel nomination if they weren’t so eager to denounce anyone who deviates even a hair’s breadth from hard-line policies. It seems that they cannot help themselves. These Republicans “project” the “McCain perspective” because they share it or because they think it is politically necessary for others to think that they share it. Why might the “McCain perspective” be unpopular at the moment? Perhaps because it is a perspective that incessantly demands the waging of unnecessary wars in countries where the U.S. has nothing at stake?

Look, I understand why neoconservatives and other foreign policy idealists oppose the more realist-oriented Hagel on principle, which is not the same thing as opposing him with a smear campaign. But I fail to see where being inside the supposed “mainstream” of US foreign policy and national security decisions over the past 12 years has been advantageous to the US. Here’s Larison slapping around Rick Santorum [3] over the latter’s anti-Hagel posturing:

Santorum really is the hawkish gift that keeps on giving. If there is one current or former elected official other than John McCain who embodies everything wrong with the Republican Party’s current foreign policy thinking, it would have to be Rick Santorum. It’s appropriate that Santorum is launching an anti-Hagel campaign, because he is in some important respects the anti-Hagel in terms of temperament and foreign policy views. Where Hagel was a grudging supporter and later critic of the Iraq war, Santorum was an unflinching supporter of the invasion and occupation, and he remains so until now. As wary of war as Hagel can be because of his experience in combat, Santorum is the classic example of the heedless activist/ideologue whose obsession with talking about foreign policy issues is equaled only by his staggering ignorance of the rest of the world.

Faced with the debacle in Iraq, Santorum not only failed to learn anything from that, but railed against the Bush administration for being insufficiently aggressive towards Iran and other countries. The disaster in Iraq caused Hagel to become more skeptical and prudent about the use of force. Santorum concluded from the same experience that the U.S. needed to become even more confrontational in its dealings with every pariah state and the major authoritarian powers.

Is Hagel out of the GOP mainstream? Probably. Thank God.

41 Comments (Open | Close)

41 Comments To "If That’s The ‘Mainstream’…"

#1 Comment By SusanKG On January 10, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

You are on a roll today, Rod. Excellent post.

#2 Comment By astorian On January 10, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Larison is as predictable as ever.

There is one and only one reason to confirm the odious Hagel- because the GOP’s real problem is with Obama, who is going to appoint an anti-Israel nominee in any event. So there’s nothing to be gained by rejecting Havel since someone who shares Obama’s approach is going to get the job eventually.

#3 Comment By Pete S On January 10, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

I still fail to see what is “conservative” about starting unnecessary wars. War should be an unwanted but necessary evil, a last option. For too many in the Republican mainstream it is a desirable outcome. We cannot give religious conservatives a pass here – killing adults is no less wrong than killing children. Indeed this dichotomy is part of the reason that liberals call pro-lifers “anti-woman” – because their concern for the sanctity of life artificial when it does not seem to extend to anyone but the unborn. Obviously not all religious conservatives are aggressive hawks, but at times we seem to let them speak for us.

#4 Comment By tennvols87 On January 10, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

Oh please the whole gambit of nominating Hagel was to either a) have him confirmed or b) have him voted down and then go look Republicans won’t ever confirm a fellow Republican. Lindsey Graham is doing exactly what Carville did after Zell Miller’s RNC speech. Talking about Zell Miller’s an wink old timey democrat this, confederate flag that. It is Hagel that is being dishonorable by not simply announcing a party change. He has not endorsed a Republican candidate for president in two cycles at that point just get out already.

#5 Comment By Joe Carter On January 10, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

When people say that Hagel is out of the “mainstream” that is a polite way of saying that he is too comfortable engaging terrorist groups. From CNN: [4]

“Hagel has supported Israel entering negotiations with Hamas, the Islamist movement that oversees parts of the Palestinian territories and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, while also insisting that Hamas end terrorism and accept Israel’s right to exist. He also was one of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter to the European Union trying to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”

Hamas ans Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. If Hagel is unaware of that fact then he is not qualified to be chief head of our national defense.

#6 Comment By Uncle Vanya On January 10, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

The American congress: Where the lunatics really are running the asylum.

#7 Comment By Clint On January 10, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

Apparently, it’s Lindsey Graham and his fellow neoconservative bloviators, who are out of the American “mainstream” on foreign policy and defense views.

Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and 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, and Ambassador to Israel and Russia; and Frank G. Wisner, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Ambassador to Egypt and India have an open letter in Foreign Policy declaring their support for the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.

#8 Comment By jimothy On January 10, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

realizing how badly the Iraq War went isn’t an excuse for some of the positions Hagel has taken. This magazine constantly excoriates anyone who’s even remotely concerned about Iran’s nuclear program as some kind of “Likudnik” fascist, and you, while not appearing to have any coherent foreign-policy ideas besides generic skepticism about interventionism, give people like Scott McConnell tacit support by never meaningfully criticizing their rhetoric, despite TAC’s pose as an “open-minded” magazine.

honestly if you read the writings of this magazine’s old guard (where Buchananism is stripped of everything except reflexive anti-Israeli sentiment) and can’t understand how this poisons any real discussion besides anti-neocon chest-thumping i don’t know what to tell you.

Hagel’s not an anti-Semite. but he was wrong on the surge (“worst blunder since Vietnam” media-pleasing wrong,) he’s wrong on Iran, and while i am all for effective diplomacy he has taken this to mean a kind of dumb diplomacy, as though the only positions are “bomb the Middle East” or “let’s hash things out with Hamas and Hezbollah.” and his critics, both liberals and the dreaded neocons, have rightly pointed out that support for his nomination appears to be driven more out of dislike for his opponents rather than any of his own virtues.

#9 Comment By The Mighty Favog On January 10, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

Where’s the “like” button on here?

One could be forgiven for thinking contemporary Republican politicians constantly spoil for a fight with some woebegone country or another for the same reason poorly socialized, uneducated inner-city youth are eager to “cap yo’ ass.” They are so insecure and ill-equipped to face the modern world that agitating for deeply stupid wars against countries they figure we can beat (and sooner or later, that assumption will be catastrophically proven erroneous) that this is the only means they have of asserting their “manhood.”

Alternatively, it just could be how powerful men with massive egos deal with their lost youth and the ever-nearing approach of the Grim Reaper. In that case, couldn’t they get a sports car and a much-younger girlfriend instead? Find themselves a bevy of appropriately bourgeois baby mamas?

Strike that. These guys are the ones for whom the above will never be enough to scratch their pathological itch. Only more and ever more senseless deaths of young American military personnel and a potential massive hit to the American economy — or worse — can do the trick for today’s GOP warmongers.

We Nebraskans elected Chuck Hagel to the U.S. Senate twice, and he was a better senator than most of us were citizens — he ended up being a lot more right about war with Iraq than we were at the time, for which he endured endless insults to his character and courage like “Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-France.”

Hagel proved his manhood the hard way — in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, and he has a couple of Purple Hearts to prove it. One of them he earned pulling his younger brother out of a burning armored-personnel carrier and carrying him to relative safety through hostile fire.

Certain Republican politicians and other assorted Washington leeches remind me more of Lil’ Boosie stylin’ to a John Phillip Sousa march.

Color me disgusted. Yet again.

#10 Comment By Thomas Andrews On January 10, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

Well put.

#11 Comment By Major Ortiz On January 10, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

Mr. Dreher –

I would welcome your perspective on this blog post by Mickey Kaus: [5]

It would seem that Hagel voted for the war (which many consider unjust) and against the very action (the Surge) which forestalled a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions.

Beside your desire to see America adopt a less active role in the world, on what grounds do you consider Hagel to be a sensible pick? His policy record seems incoherent at best…

#12 Comment By Clint On January 10, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

Read: The ‘Surge’ Myth’s Deadly Result


#13 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 10, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

Hagel should be confirmed because he will be a good influence on Obama, who has been too eager to show he’s not a wimp by maintaining a high level of military engagement. Hagel isn’t afraid to use force where its appropriate, but he doesn’t go around singing about bombing this country and that to old beach boys tunes.

I for one would be happy to have people in the cabinet who understand that the government of the United States and the government of Israel are two distinct entities, responsible to different constituencies, and neither is obligated to conform its policies to the whims of the other, nor to fund every policy an ally may care to adopt.

I liked Zell Miller, until he endorsed George III. I have no problem with his tweaking the liberal establishment, I have a problem with him kissing the butt of a blue blood idiot prince.

In short, great post Rod.

#14 Comment By simon94022 On January 10, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

“It is Hagel that is being dishonorable by not simply announcing a party change. He has not endorsed a Republican candidate for president in two cycles at that point just get out already.”

@tenvols87 – Hagel is not a mainstream Republican – I don’t think anyone is arguing that. But his foreign policy views are well within the mainstream of American public opinion and firmly grounded in traditional conservative principles.

The bedrock conservative principle of foreign and military policy, expressed in one form or another, has always been PEACE through strength. We will not fight wars abroad in order to spread democracy, promote women’s rights, build up other nations, etc. But we will respond without hesitation to any direct attack. This is the tradition of Washington, Lincoln, Coolidge, Taft, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Reagan.

It has always been the Left — who supported boots-on-the-ground wars to win “hearts and minds”, build up new nations, or make the world safe for democracy. This is the antithesis of conservatism — and of common sense.

#15 Comment By JonF On January 10, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

Joe Carter,

The Communists, in both Russia and China (and a few other places too) make Hamas and Hezbollah look like a troop of Brownie scouts. Foreign policy is not for moral purists. Sometimes one must toast and shake hands and bill and coo with butchers– even butchers with so much blood on their hands the angels in Heaven hide their faces from them. And good grief the US got along quite famously with old Menachem Begin who was once a terrorist leader with the blood of innocents on his hands.

And confident prediction: Israel will still exist when Obama leaves office four years from now, Hagel or no Hagel. They have the baddest-arse military in that part of the world (and some nukes chilling ion the basement)– they are abundantly capable of taking care of themselves

#16 Comment By M_Young On January 10, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

I wish Larison and the rest of you could get 1/10th as worked up about Graham the amnesty pusher as you do about Graham the war monger. The immigration issue is far more important to the future of what is left of America than ‘war or peace’. Eventually we will ‘come home’, because we will have to. Immigration policy will, in large part, determine what that home will look like.

#17 Comment By Liam On January 10, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

The “mainstream” to which Graham refers is more like the Gowanus Canal than the Mississippi River.

#18 Comment By Sands On January 10, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

Does Rick Santorum not realize that he is no longer a US Senator because of his foreign policy views? Does Lindsey Graham not realize that his party lost control of the Senate in 2006 because of its foreign policy views? Neoconservatism has been out of the mainstream for quite some time, and its pretty pathetic that some people continue to cling to such a despicable ideology. But that’s OK, keep right on clinging to that sinking ship.

#19 Comment By Joe Mc.. .Faul On January 10, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

“When people say that Hagel is out of the “mainstream” that is a polite way of saying that he is too comfortable engaging terrorist groups….Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations.”

Hagel knows that.

This “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” attitude is purerile. We negotiate with terrorists all the time. We don’t urinate on their shoes, however, a negotiating methodology a little above Republican senators’ intellectual capacity, apparently.

Hagel may not be within the mainstream of of currently sitting Republican senators, but he is well within the American mainstream.

Furthermore, he is not being considered as President. He is being considered for a position serving under the President as a member of the cabinet. Putting aside any of his opinions, he will be carrying out the policy of Barack Obama, not Chuck Hagel. If you have any gripes about policy, take them up with Obama.

#20 Comment By Sands On January 10, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

You can’t tell ’em nothin’, simon94022. Rush Limbaugh tells them what a true conservative is, and that’s that. History means nothing.

#21 Comment By Clamdigger On January 10, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

Astorian: you wrote “Obama, who is going to appoint an anti-Israel nominee in any event.”

Please provide specific examples of this line of thought.

Does Ehud Barak lie when states that Israel has had no finer friend than in Obama? ” “But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

Thank goodness we will have a Defense Secretary that knows what it is to be a soldier, to be a veteran, and who seems willing to stand up to friends (when needed) and hopefully to defense contractors.

#22 Comment By Charles Cosimano On January 10, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

Foreign policy had nothing to do with either the defeat of Rick Santorum or the Republicans losing the Senate in 2006. Voters don’t care about that stuff.

#23 Comment By JP On January 10, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

[email protected]”Joe Carter”

lol [email protected] usual paleo “early Zionists were terrorists too!!” gambit

i’m not a moral purist in terms of foreign policy. i don’t think Israel’s gonna be blown up (which is not the only grounds for opposing the nuclearization of Iran BTW.) the question’s just, will the sorts of negotiations Hagel’s advocated be productive at this point in time. answer: nope. and i doubt they’ll happen with him as secdef but they’re his positions and they’re worth critiquing.

critiquing Israeli policy’s one thing, it’s the Manichean rhetoric of select writers at this magazine that makes them difficult to take seriously.

#24 Comment By JP On January 10, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

apologies, missed Joe Carter’s comment

#25 Comment By Liam On January 10, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

“Foreign policy had nothing to do with either the defeat of Rick Santorum or the Republicans losing the Senate in 2006. Voters don’t care about that stuff.”

Which must somehow explain why President Bush’s nearly instantaneous reaction to the 2006 elections was to fire Donald Rumsfeld and isolate Dick Cheney…..

#26 Comment By SDS On January 10, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

It must have been The Republican’s stellar handling of the budget or the Iraq war, then… Iraq war, oh, that’s foreign policy….sorry…
Must have been they didn’t have a big enough deficit……

#27 Comment By Rod Dreher On January 10, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

I actually don’t have a strong opinion about Chuck Hagel, except that I see no reason at all why a president shouldn’t have his own choice as cabinet secretaries, and I’ve seen nothing remotely disqualifying about Hagel for defense. I believe Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups. Maybe Hagel doesn’t, or didn’t. If this is all the GOP has on Hagel, and they manage to torpedo this nomination based on that, then it’s a damn shame.

#28 Comment By Liam On January 10, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

PS: FWIW, from a contemporaneous NY Times news account about Santorum’s reelection defeat:

“Mr. Santorum, a close ally of President Bush and the third-ranking Senate Republican, was one of his party’s fastest-rising stars. A favorite among social conservatives, he ran as a strong supporter of the war in Iraq and tried to paint Mr. Casey as a captive of a liberal party that could not be trusted on values or national defense.

But Mr. Casey, the state treasurer and son of a popular governor, proved well defended against such charges with a conservative social record that included opposition to abortion rights and gun control. It was Mr. Casey, 46, who managed to portray Mr. Santorum as the party captive, pointing to a voting record that tied him closely to Mr. Bush in a state where exit polls showed 6 in 10 voters disapproving of the president’s job performance.

“When two politicians are agreeing 98 percent of the time, one of them isn’t necessary,” Mr. Casey said in a frequent campaign line.

With 77 percent of the precincts counted, Mr. Casey had nearly 60 percent of the vote, compared with just over 40 percent for Mr. Santorum, who called him shortly before 10 p.m. to concede defeat.

Appearing here at a celebration in his hometown 45 minutes later, Mr. Casey restated an agenda that included raising the minimum wage, offering health insurance to 8.3 million uninsured children and fighting terrorism. He also criticized Mr. Bush for his management of the Iraq war, in which 136 Pennsylvania soldiers have died.

“It’s about time that politicians in Washington are held accountable in Iraq,” Mr. Casey said.

After a campaign slugfest in which he accused Mr. Casey of aiding terrorists, Mr. Santorum sounded a gracious note in defeat.”

#29 Comment By Patrick D On January 10, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

“When people say that Hagel is out of the “mainstream” that is a polite way of saying that he is too comfortable engaging terrorist groups….Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations.”

Well apparently Israel is outside the “mainsteam” as well. Those prisoner exchanges don’t just happen. With dozens of Hamas and Hezbullah people released for every Israeli it reeks of “appeasement” and “weakness” to use neocon speak.

This position is just another way of saying U.S. policy should be to render full-spectrum, unconditional support to Israel no matter what it does and without reference to the actual, vital national interests of the U.S.

#30 Comment By Thomas Andrews On January 10, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

tennvols87 wrote:
It is Hagel that is being dishonorable by not simply announcing a party change. He has not endorsed a Republican candidate for president in two cycles at that point just get out already.

Fascinating, as Spock used to say.

Purity instead of diversity. Instead of shrinking government till it was small enough to drown in the bathtub, you conservatives have done your best to shrink the ‘big-tent’ of Ronald Reagan to the size of a postage stamp.

#31 Comment By Sands On January 10, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

“I want to conserve America’s role as a world power.”

So you oppose spilling precious blood and spending treasure we don’t have on wars that make no sense? Good, glad to hear it.

“Larison and TAC can’t even be consistent because they support Russian adventurism.”

Who’s being laughable now?

#32 Comment By AnotherBeliever On January 10, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

Numerous numerous opinion polls, to say nothing of just paying attention to public opinion in general, show that Americans in general are NOT in favor of continuing military commitments around the planet. And certainly not in favor of entangling ourselves in any further military adventures unless actually necessary. This goes for conservatives and progressives alike these days. The American people are the mainstream. The commentators accusing Hagel of being soft on Defense/Iran/etc are NOT mainstream anything.

#33 Comment By Noah172 On January 10, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

M_Young wrote:

I wish Larison and the rest of you could get 1/10th as worked up about Graham the amnesty pusher as you do about Graham the war monger.

Hagel was for open borders as a Senator, as well as free trade; the one and only thing that I will say in defense of the awful Graham is that he has a good record of protectionism. I support Hagel for Defense because he seems to be a reasonable choice and someone who might muscle some much-needed reduction in the department’s bloated budget, and because immigration and trade will not be in his portfolio. If he goes down, I’ll be sorry to see the Zionists win another victory, but I can’t mourn too deeply.

I will throw a few bucks to anyone who challenges Graham in the Republican primary election, and if he survives, then to his Democratic opponent.

Joe Carter wrote:

Hamas ans Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. If Hagel is unaware of that fact then he is not qualified to be chief head of our national defense.

Hamas has never attacked an American target, nor targeted any treaty ally of the United States — remember, there is no treaty of alliance between the US and Israel. While Hamas does engage in terrorism, it is at the same time a legitimate political party which was duly elected — in a balloting supported by the Bush administration over the reservations of the Israelis! — by Palestinians exercising their franchise.

Hezbollah is a different kettle of fish, what with its alleged involvement in the Beirut marine barracks bombing in 1983 and the taking of American (and other Western) hostages in subsequent years. Nevertheless, first, these matters are between us and Hezbollah — we should not take any sort of action with regard to the organization merely to serve Israeli interests; and, second, Hezbollah, like a Hamas, is also a legitimate political party which has won seats in Lebanon’s parliament in free and fair votes.


Israeli officials plotted to attack American and British targets (the UK being a treaty ally of the United States) in Egypt in false-flag plot known as the Lavon Affair.

During the days of Iran’s Shah, Mossad helped train the notorious SAVAK in terrorizing the Iranian people; this indirectly fueled the anti-American sentiment in Iran given the American coziness with Israel.

Israel killed 34 Americans, wounded 171 others, and destroyed one of our naval vessels, all under the most suspicious of circumstances, in the USS Liberty incident; Israel then behaved deplorably in the aftermath, failing to cooperate fully in the investigation, punish those responsible, and promptly pay full damages to the US government.

Mossad agents murdered an innocent man in a case of mistaken identity in Norway, a treaty ally of the US, in 1973.

Israel has been behind numerous spy scandals against the US, despite gentile America’s extraordinary generosity toward Israel. The astounding volume of secrets stolen by Jonathan Pollard included the entire manual of America’s radio and signal notations, endangering the US’ electronic surveillance worldwide. Pollard’s secrets were also bartered to the USSR.

Israel attacked without provocation an unarmed civilian vessel, the Mavi Marmara, flagged by a treaty ally of the US, Turkey, in international waters, and killed nine Turkish citizens.

Mossad agents with forged passports from five treaty allies of the United States (UK, France, Germany, Ireland, and Australia) assassinated a Hamas figure in Dubai in 2010. Note that, while the UAE is not a formal ally of the US, it does host the US Navy in its ports and cooperates with the US in nuclear non-proliferation.

Mossad agents have posed as American CIA operatives while recruiting Iranian dissidents to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists.

And, on top of it all, Israel has been terrorizing Palestinian civilians in ways too numerous yet too familiar to repeat here.

#34 Comment By astorian On January 10, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

Short answer: Of COURSE Ehud Barak is lying when he says Barack Obama is the best friend Israel ever had.

What do you EXPECT foreign leaders to do? Tell the truth???

Israel needs whatever support she can get from the USA, and so her leaders will always smile and say nice things about ours, no matter what they really think. But in reality, Obama is viscerally hostile to Israel, and the feeling is mutual.

That said, Obama won the election and is generally entitled to appoint whomever he wants to the Cabinet. I believe that, with very rare exceptions, any President’s nominees should be confirmed. Obama doesn’t need Israel’s blessing or mine.

And as I said earlier, as a practical matter, Chuck Hagel would NOT be the main problem Israel faces in its dealings with the USA: the President would. Even if there were enough neocons and gay activists in each party to sink Hagel’s nomination, the fact remains, Obama is going to appoint someone who shares his antipathy to Israel and his commitment to shrinking the military.

I don’t like the direction Obama is taking us in, but as I acknowledged, he won the election. SOMEONE is going to implement (what I think is) Obama’s wrong-headed agenda, and it might as well be Hagel.

#35 Comment By Mightypeon On January 11, 2013 @ 12:12 am

Concerning Hezbollah and Hamas:

Hezbollah is about as “terrorist” as very well organized Vietcong division. The are constantly moving towards even higher warfare standarts (some of their tunnel systems would be appreciated by vietnamese veterans), and actually did some quite impressive things with their hybrid war doctrine implementation.
If you look at the 2006 war, the gave the overwhelming IDF quite a bloody nose, and on a tactical scale, some of their “cunning plans” were world class trolling.
They are, despite their name, not even that islamist, and their main priority is “Israel/USA out of Lebanon”, as well as “Fuck the Sunna”.

For the record, they actually condemned 9/11 (the attacks on the WTC, they regarded the Pentagon as a valid military target), and were temporarily delisted as a terrorist organisation. Then came the axis of evil rararara by Bush, and obviously Hezbollah didnt like the US going after their Iranian allies.

Hamas is, generally speaking, a lot less competent than Hezbollah, it actually benefits Israel because it gives them a usefull scapegoat (Have policy problems? Shoot a Hamas “terrorist”, which results in Hamas firing back rockets, which results in the IDF flattening Gaza which results in Netanjahu getting a hero of the hour award and in economic issues taking yet another back seat at the elections). Also, Hamas wants to get Israel out of Israel, while Hezbollah wants to make Israel stay out of Lebanon. One of these goals is palatable for the west, the other one is not.

There is ample prededent for talking with either of them, and Hezbollah actually has certain things to offer, since I do not believe that a Muslim brotherhood run middle east is in the wests interests, and Hezbollah doesnt like the Muslim brothers at all.

#36 Comment By EDR On January 11, 2013 @ 12:32 am

Dreher, what’s your position on Iran getting nukes? Obviously no one wants a land invasion. But the magazine you write for constantly frames this as a non-issue that only hysterics would have misgivings about.

The commenter above who summed up this magazine’s ideology (and yeah it is an ideology, NTTAWT) as “Robert Taft gets to define conservative foreign policy” pretty much nailed it. It’s odd that TAC’s conservatism is completely amorphous in everything except this, where unless you’re a non-interventionist in any and all situations you’re some kind of Wilsonian fanatic (or Likudnik stooge depending on the topic,) as though the 50+ years between Eisenhower and now never happened.

#37 Comment By JonF On January 11, 2013 @ 5:47 am

Anyone who does not recall what big issue the 2006 revolved around ought consult their doctor for the possibility of incipient Alzheimers. Hint: The economy was still (fake) booming so it wasn’t that.

#38 Comment By Mightypeon On January 11, 2013 @ 7:19 am

What I believe to be completely missing with regard to Iran is any investigation of how they see the whole issue.

As a European, I am a lot more doving considering Iran than Washingtons bipartisan foreign policy consensus, yet I see either war and Iran getting a nuke afterwards, or Iran getting a nuke followed by containment, as the most likely outcomes. This is largely because the odds for a sustainable deal are incredibly low.
A number of factors play into this:

Iran is a lot weaker than the USA. It is also weaker than Israel, which could wipe Iran of the map with a nuclear strike if it felt like it. Israel could conceivable get away with this too (who will nuke Israel in return if Israel nukes Iran? Pakistan? Russia? China has explicitly stated that it will only use nukes to defend its own territory…) faced by a conventionally superior foe with an undisclosed nuclear programm that operates under explicit great power protection, well, Iran will want deterence.
Given that Irans current leadership dislikes nukes and WMDs, they tried to get an assymetric deterrent via extensive defensive preparations, a focus on assymetric warfare and an alliance with assymtric forces.
All of these elements take time to develop, if Obama offers a deal close to “we become less hostile, you stop propping up Hezbollah”, he would be offering something he would perceive as “fair”, while Iran would have severe issues with such a deal. As long as the USA and Israel retain the capacity to wipe Iran of the map, Iran will continue to want a deterent. A change in willingness to wipe Iran of the map would no doubt be appreciated in Teheran, but given the neocon-GOP views on the matter, Iran simply cannot base question of its own vital national security on the democrats getting elected.
This means that they will persist in propping up Hezbollah etc, which would have course lead to blowback from US “doves” not seeing any positive change in Iranian behaviour.
There is also, on both sides, by far too much distrust for any kind of grand bargain, so that just wont happen.

Perhaps the only way to perhaps avoid either a nuke or a large scale war followed by a nuke is Russia guaranteeing Irans independence, in an, if neccessary, nuclear way.
However, Iran is propably to proud to accept an umbrella, and Russia is not at all close enough to Iran to commit itself to fight a major war on Irans behalf.

Concerning Irans Israel issue:

Well, look at the pros and cons to being a “foe of Israel” for a muslim power:
The big pro is prestige, what once was the “defender of the faith” or the “sword of Islam” is now the “bestest protector or poor misbegotten Palestinians”. More amusingly for Iran, Shiite Persian Iranians being the “bestest protectors of poor misbegotten Sunni Arab Palestinians” nicely exposes Irans sunni Arab rival as not very efficient.
Iran gets important prestige in the muslim world and with the muslim street due to being a foe of Israel.

The cons to being a foe os Israel are
1: The US will hate you, which doesnt matter to Iran because they beleive that the US hates them anyway. Motassadegh was no foe of Israel after all.
2: Israel may suprise bomb the hell out of you, when iran choose to be a foe of Israel, the distance between Israel and Iran would prevent a lot of Israeli bombing threats.

On balance, it makes rational sense for Iran to oppose Israel.

#39 Comment By Hunk Hondo(C.H. Ross) On January 11, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

Mr. Santorum is in danger of becoming the Harold Stassen of social conservatism.

#40 Comment By Noah172 On January 11, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

Astorian wrote:

But in reality, Obama is viscerally hostile to Israel

So viscerally hostile that he has vetoed Israel’s 3-billion-dollar annual aid package.

So viscerally hostile that he he vows to sanction Israel for its illegal attack on a NATO ally in the Mavi Marmara incident.

So viscerally hostile that he has ruled out war with Iran under any circumstances short of direct Iranian on Americans only (not Israelis).

So viscerally hostile that he opposes even using economic sanctions to compel Iran to give up its nuke program.

So viscerally hostile that he has ceased US military and intelligence cooperation with Israel.

So viscerally hostile that he has instructed his UN ambassador to vote against Israel’s wishes in that forum.

So viscerally hostile that he has appointed an independent commission to reopen the investigation of the USS Liberty attack in light of newly declassified evidence.

So viscerally hostile that he vows to rescind the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement, under which Israel has enjoyed scores of billions in trade surplusses.

So viscerally hostile that he has frozen Israeli assets in the US to compel Israel to cease illegal settlements in the West Bank, and remove the ones already present.

So viscerally hostile that he has demanded the extradition of murderer Samuel Scheinbein, on pain of loss of American aid.

So viscerally hostile that he has publicly denounced Israel for requesting the release of the vermin spy Jonathan Pollard; and he has released a fully declassified report (no redactions) detailing the total extent of the damage Pollard’s espionage caused.

So viscerally hostile that he has demanded that Israel cease all overseas assassinations, particularly on the soil of nations allied or friendly to the US.

Oh, what’s that you say? Obama has not done any of these things? He strongly opposes doing any of these things? He would fire any staff member who even suggested doing any of these things?

With “enemies” like Obama, does Israel need friends?

#41 Comment By Mightypeon On January 12, 2013 @ 8:32 am

2006 vs Hezbollah wasnt a war of choice for Israel, the recent Gaza campaigns (both of them, especially the last one) were.

Part of the reason why Hezbollah did the kidnapping in 2006 (this was a decision at Hezbollahs top, regional commanders were likely under orders to exploit Israeli weakness if reasonably possible) was that Israel kept a lot of Hezbollah captives in prison (Hezbollah does, with some justification, regard those as POWs), and Hezbollah wanted them out.

Can you rule out that the founding fathers would capture british hostages if the UK would have refused to release PoWs after the US independence war? Independence war is btw. exactly what Hezbollah sees the lebanese civil war as.