Children often give bizarre excuses to defend or justify an action for which they are at fault to obfuscate their involvement in untoward behavior, and an excuse is not unrelated to rationale for a certain behavior that at least attempts to explain why an action was taken whether reasonable or not. The furor over confirming President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has produced a variety of Republican excuses for why they oppose Hagel’s nomination, and why for the first time in America’s history they filibustered a Secretary of Defense nominee, but this is 2013 and although obstruction is the sole reason Republicans serve in Congress since an African American is President, thus far, the primary reason Republicans oppose Hagel is barely mentioned.
There is good reason to assume Senator John McCain’s opposition to Hagel is not just about his views on national security, and although McCain said he is angry at Hagel for criticizing Bush’s handling of the Iraq war, it is likely more personal. In 2008, Hagel was seen as giving tacit support to Barack Obama’s candidacy over McCain, and recently endorsed a Democrat in his home state over the Republican candidate for the Senate. With Lindsey Graham, McCain has made the attack on diplomats in Benghazi one of the primary excuses for opposing Hagel, but during the Bush administration there were 12 attacks on diplomats that did not create Benghazi-level outrage McCain and Lindsey have aimed at Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Susan Rice, and now Hagel. However, the Benghazi attack and Hagel’s criticism of the Iraq war are childish excuses, because the real reason for Republican opposition to Hagel is his position on Israel, and if there is one thing Republicans, fundamentalist Christians, and neon-con warmongers will not comport, it is failure to put Israel above the security of the United States.
The media was remiss to report on the national embarrassment that was the Senate’s armed services committee hearing on Hagel’s nomination last month, or the number of times Israel and Iran came up during questioning. Israel was mentioned 178 times and Iran was next at 169, while the same senators barely mentioned Hagel’s views on Afghanistan where American soldiers are currently fighting, Pakistan that still hides remnants of al-Qaida, or North Korea, a nuclear capable country where more than 30,000 American troops are deployed. However, they thrashed the Israel issue mercilessly and attempted to impugn Hagel’s character by implying he “has ties to the Iran foreign ministry,” courtesy of Jim Inhofe, and questioned if money in his “bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea” from the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, Ted Cruz.
Emboldened by Cruz and Inhofe’s conspiracy theories, Republicans blocked a vote on Hagel because they contend more time is needed for him to produce speeches he is alleged to have given, and to provide further documentation on the funding of organizations he’s been affiliated with. Hagel’s detractors represent an array of groups that include neo-conservative warmongers, evangelical groups such as Christians United for Israel, and the hawkish pro-Israel group, the Emergency Committee for Israel, and their goal is to shift the discourse to Israel instead of America’s defense. The Christian Zionist organizations opposing Hagel are part of Republican opposition because he threatens long-held conservative ideas about foreign policy, and at what length America is willing to go to disregard its own security in the defense of Israel.
Republicans railed against Hagel for suggesting there are options to dealing with Iran besides joining Israel in a major war with the Islamic Republic, and Inhofe’s only concern remains Hagel’s position on Israel. He said, “The anti-Israel history of Chuck Hagel is real. We can’t have someone at the Pentagon who has made these kinds of statements,” because his statements are contrary to the pro-Israel at all costs crowd in Republican ranks. Hagel’s so-called anti-Israel statements are in regard to peace with Palestinians such as, “The Israeli government needs to understand that implementation of the peace agreement is in its own interests,” and “Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.” He also is being harshly condemned as anti-Israel for saying, ”I think we should continue to pursue openings with Iran, we need to understand cold, hard realities and be very clear-eyed and clearheaded, but every opening we should take.”
The idea that there cannot be Middle East peace without all-out war to defend Israel is toxic to neo-conservative ideology, and it informs the primary opposition to Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense; not grudges or Benghazi frenzy. The Israel-first conservatives are staunchly opposed to any peaceful resolution in dealing with Iran, and the idea that Hagel believes it is in Israel, and America’s, best interest to open up a dialogue to address their so-called nuclear ambitions is tantamount to declaring war on god almighty.
Republicans are wont to obstruct anything the Obama Administration has attempted to accomplish, but their allegiance to Israel is compromising national security as well as violating a long-standing principle that the President picks his own cabinet. Hagel once had the support of Republicans such as Mitch McConnell who said Hagel was one of the “most respected foreign policy voices in the Senate,” and McCain said he “would make an excellent secretary of state,” but now they are besmirching a fellow Republican over Israel based on conspiracy theories advanced by the likes of Ted Cruz. There are big-money groups attempting to derail his nomination precisely by creating the idea that Hagel is against Israel and pro-Iran, and neo-cons are still livid with Hagel for opposing the Iraq war and the failed “surge,” in spite of him being a decorated combat veteran, and veterans affair director under conservative god Ronald Reagan.
With American forces still fighting and dying in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda at large in Pakistan and across the Middle East, nuclear North Korea, a NATO defense ministers’ meeting next week, Republicans are sticking to their obstructionist ways over Israel. Americans have come to learn that Republicans hate this country nearly as much as they hate the President, but it is unimaginable that the party that prides itself in being adamantly pro-defense, is jeopardizing America’s national security and its troops around the globe just to show if you are not with their pro-Israel program, you are with Iran; and will not be Secretary of Defense.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.