Christopher Lee

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An Honorable Man Would Fall On His Sword And Give Everyone (Including Obama) A Break

22 February 2013

Some one explain: What’s with this Hagel thing?  Why can’t the Senate wipe their noses and just nod through Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s candidate for Secretary of Defense.

The answer is they can but a few of them would like to see Hagel harried until he’s an embarrassment to Obama and bravely asks Obama permission to withdraw from the nomination.

At this week’s NATO defense ministers meeting at Alliance HQ there was plenty smirking and sneering when the news arrived that Hagel would not be – arriving that is.  Instead the super-efficient Leon Panetta who has been forced to stay on a Secretary arrived.  Almost every  NATO minister would prefer to have Panetta representing the US.  But Panetta needs to move on and Obama needs to prove that he can have his nominee in place.

The President has to wait.  Reason?  The problem is that Chuck The Mouth misspeaks.  He said damn foolish things about Jewish lobbies in Washington.  

Now, if you want to be one of The President’s Men, then you don’t say anything about Jewish Lobby groups.  Best to pretend they do not exist – even a “friendly” one like the National Jewish Democratic Committee who is sensitive enough to have denounced Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio for not mentioning Israel in his State of the Union response.  

Daft? Pathetic? Of course it is.  But that Washington for you.

The Jewish lobby (which of course does not exist) is one of the major influences on the floor of the HOuse, the Senate and in the thinking of any would-be and incumbent tenant of the White House.

To understand that influence and how the sensitivity has made a mockery of the President’s imagined power to get his man through the confirmation system, just understand that the case against Hagel is laid after remarks he supposedly made in 2007.  

Up at Rutgers University he apparently said that Iran (Israel’s most feared enemy this day) was in collaboration with the US on Afghanistan to establish a new government. He also is alleged to have remarked that the US State Department is controlled by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.  Explosive stuff.  But it was five years ago. To misquote McCarthy: “Senator, are you or have you ever been a big mouth?”

And the next question for Obama: why are you wanting this man to run your Pentagon in which the ranking subject is what to do about Israeli anxieties about Iran.

Now, the folk on the Hill have had their day in the court of accusations and although it’s an apparently mindless exercise, it also happens to be true that they may have revealed a man who truly should not have the Pentagon.

One by one, the legislators are backing off.  Yet in spite of the fact that there is a clear majority in the Senate for Hagel to be confirmed, there remain some who would remind the White House how little true power it has considering the way the Congress sits at this time.  When the mid term elections are done in  two years from now, the President will have even less power.

So now what happens? Minority Whip, Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn has written with more than a dozen colleagues to the President asking him to find another candidate.  Some of those signatories want a trade. They have issues which they are willing to trade for nodding Hagel through.  But not yet. Would the President back down?  Probably not.  But Hagel just might, to save the President and the himself from more embarrassment.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the Alliance wait for the name of the man they have to deal with over big issues such a coalition of the willing response to the disaster that is Afghanistan, the decisions over Syria, co-operation over Western African counter-Radical planning, defense spending, what to do about North Korea and of course, Iran.  

Today, Iran has gone the next stage towards nuclear power development. If we wonder what will be Israel’s response and that of the US we would expect to ask Chuck Hagel. That for the moment, maybe for all time, is not possible.

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