Friday, 1 February 2013

HAGEL’s Problems – Will He Still Be Confirmed?

In 2000 then Senator Hagel was one of four refusing to sign another one of the periodic Israeli/Jewish Lobby AIPAC-generated letters pledging unlimited support for Israel.   That put him on their radar.  A few years later Hagel was a rare Senator who refused to sign letters or vote for resolutions declaring Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranians as “Terrorist Organizations”.  That made him a target.

Then in 2008 Senator Hagel refused to endorse his colleague and fellow war veteran Senator John McCain for the Presidency and decided to resign from the Senate.

In subsequent years Hagel has chaired The Atlantic Council, a very establishment home for Republican “Realists” rather than “Neocons” — think Bush 41 and his appointees rather than Bush 43 and his.

And that’s the source of Hagel’s problems!  He’s hardly someone serious liberals and real internationalists should be cheering, but these days the Reagan/Bush years look moderate and reasonable in comparison to the Bush/Cheney/Neocon/TeaParty years so energized by 9/11.

Hagel’s other big problem is contemporary Washington itself.  He’s actually a thoughtful, independent, relatively honest guy.  All such types are endangered species here subject to ongoing abuse from the ideological purists and militarists who viciously enforce their ways against any who dare deviate and challenge.

Hagel is no liberal, no internationalist, no visionary, no serious reformer.  He’s actually a rather traditional mainstream midwestern Republican Realist in the tradition of Kissinger, Scowcroft, Baker, overlapping with the likes of Brzezinski and Nunn across the party divide — but lacking their stature and depth.

In short Hagel is a moderate American imperialist rather than a raging Neocon one.    But in today’s Washington that means he could not even get his home-state fellow-Republican Senators to introduce his nomination before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday as is tradition.   And because of the pounding he took, his bumbling sometimes stumbling manner, his repeatedly apologetic responses, and the very well-financed and now further fueled movement to defeat him, his future is in doubt.

The odds are still that a weaken and chastened Chuck Hagel will be confirmed as Obama’s third Secretary of Defense, though with considerable NO votes.

But those odds are shorter today than yesterday.  And there’s a long hectic maybe frantic weekend ahead, the public part of which will be played out once again on the Sunday Washington Talk Shows.  And there are Republican Senators who just might not only put still bigger obstacles in Hagel’s way but might even push some kind of “hold” or “filibuster” as is possible under Senate procedural rules.

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