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JANUARY 7, 2013 5:21PM

Why Hagel Is a Good Choice for Secretary of Defense, If

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 For MEB, forever.

"Some people like the Jews, some don't...but none can deny that they are among the most formidable races." Winston Churchill.

First of all, it's not like Reichsmarhall Hagel, so German sounding, got up there and said "Madagascar." 

The only "if" some have about the apppointment of Leftenant Hagel, winner of the Iron Cross in Vietnam, is the what if of Romney, as to the "Team of Rivals Dealio," if there would have been a cook in kitchen issue too. 

That actually isn't a joke, like the first two, as his managerial skills ... doctor and medicine needed, but Hagel's done that before too, and isn't a chef in kitchen issue. 

Given that Romney wasn't possible as to the Team of Rivals notion, former Senator Chuck Hagel is a totally reasonable choice as Secretary of Defense, and ought to be confirmed quickly, if with certain questions clarified about Iran, as a policy matter, not as a partisan, or most especially a personal one.  

The gay issue is ridiculous when you understand Hormel's current life partner, especially in the context of 1998:

"There goes the American ambassador with his new 22 year old boyfriend." Didn't think so, as to especially a Hormel Hormel. Talk about privilege being unearned that Dems always complain about. Shall Barney Frank get up there and talk about young men and generous gentlemen friends?

Didn't think so.

That objection ought to go nowhere fast, if Ambassador Hormel is a great guy, and a very large donor to many causes, including the TGLBi-Curious Community and the Democratic Party that often in both American political parties qualifies one for being an ambassaodor.

Every political party in America does that.

"$100,000 for the ambassador-ship of Fiji! Sold! The  Court of King James, sold, to Lady Gaga for $1,000,000! Vogue editor to Paris as the twofer! They can consult with each other on cultural export issues."

And everyone does it, and has for the entire history of the Republic.

Definition of half the American ambassadors in history?

"Have large checkbook, will travel to desirable locations. "

Only a slight exageration, and now serious time. 

As to Hagel's Israel lobby remarks, that's actually a mark in his favor, to a careful point, as to a certain reality in American public life, perhaps seen best in the almost but not quite humorous pandering to Israel in Netanyahu's speech before the House in 2011.

Only if each member of Congress had given Netanyahu a happy ending on the House Floor would the pander have been more outlandish. 

The next time we have a presidential debate, maybe they should serve lox and bagels, for all the pitiful stumbling over how great Israel is.

The Tribe is great and all that, like Churchill said, among the most formidble races, but there are a lot more Chinese than Jews, if they share certain holiday traditions, of course, but China is more important, as to strategic priorities, at least some could argue, if that's tricky too.

As to that point and some seemingly logically following wishful thinking lately in the Defense community, just remember Godfather III: " Every time I try to get out, they drag me back in."

Look at Iran to see why, not to mention the movie the Promised Land, that although everyone might want to focus somewhere else new, like East Asia and the lovely Strategic Pivot, they had better be ready to get dragged back into the CENTCOM Sandbox, because people there, they don't play very nice, and never have, and maybe never will.

As to Herr Hagel's dreaded Israel lobby remarks, the reality is that if one raises any objections to anything some Israelis might want, you are in grave danger of being smeared in public as an anti-Semite, even though Arabs are Semites linguistically speaking, so true Fascists would dislike them both, and even if ten Israelis in a room might mean eleven opinions as to what they want.

True and a joke, if the last one, ten in a room and eleven opinions, might be something of a problem of how to direct American foreign policy.

As to the dreaded Israel lobby, everybody does it now overseas, it being trying to buy influence here, once people cottoned on to our love of money.

That's why people like to buy our Treasuries and build car factories in some cases, or make movies to keep us buying petroleum exports.

For those on the Left who like the idea of any comment about the dreaded Israel lobby, how about asking Matt Damon about his principles in fronting for the oil people in the Middle East, if, truth be told, the Jews don't want us to go away either, since the Jews and Arabs both suspect that if the American Sharif were to go pick up his toys from the Sandbox and go home, there would be dead people everywhere soon enough in that particular Sandbox, since no one plays nice in that Sandbox.

As to current issues for the new Secretary, everyone in the E Ring in a certain pentagonal building is getting real excited about the "Strategic Pivot" to Asia, which is great, unless you remember Godfather III as the real Middle East: "Every time I try to get out, they drag me back in." 

Just give them a little while. 

As to the loudest if now growing more indirect objection to Herr Hagel, the existence of a very poweful Israel lobby is the case even if the Left is incredibly dumb, at best, anti-American at worst, to refuse to see certain understandable facts of life in dealing with a country whose inhabitants faced a not long ago extermination effort: of course Israel wants to be close to a country with tremendous numbers of weapons; you would too.

And again, there is a much more subtle if also plenty powerful Arab and Muslim lobby too, because of the stupid oil money, like funding a movie to discredit fracking lately: Gee, wonder why?

Not to be cynical, so it must be because the Emir is so concerned about the American environment.

That's who we are, a state somewhat pourous to money as to outside influences, even as the American Babylon's power motivates people to try to tilt us this way and that way. Absent a collapse, that's where the incentives will always be, to lobby to get us to see things a certain way.

Of course Israelis, Saudis, and Qataris are such lovely people that it's all for the greater American good of peace, freedom, and cheap gas, while East Asians buy all our debt, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, plus Singapore and other folks too. That's interedepence when you're the Sheriff/Sharif.

As to why there remains ethics in what America does in the Middle East, China could care less than zero about notions of "The Land," "Allah," or "human rights," or anything other than cheap gas.

We at least have some principles we actually do try to honor, if in a corrupt world many times in the breach: honoring in the breach isn't zero either, and not by a long shot.

As to why one shouldn't pick fights with Israel gratuitously as the Secretary of Defense, if Iran disappears off the face of the Earth someday, it won't be because they were innocent and especially intelligent bystanders for sure.

"Gee, I kept threatening someone with a lot of weapons, and they shot me: why poor old me?" 

This is while some think it is most likely the case that if the American Empire is destroyed someday, it will be because having been dragged into one of the seemingly intractable disputes of the Middle East, mainly originally being there, note, to keep relatively cheap gas flowing to Europe and Japan, and all so that the respectively Russians and Chinese don't intimidate the Europeans and Japanese to get to use their more advanced weapons technology to destroy us here.

That concern hasn't really changed that much since the "end of the Cold War," and look at Mr. On/Off Switch in Putin to see how it has gotten almost worse.

That's not a reason to pick a fight with Israel either, although some have long quietly thought the only chance we have to avoid being destroyed by that region was to get a deal between the Palestinians and Israelis, if on our terms, not either parties per se, and per Hagel's remarks about who he represents, America, not Israel, and not the Muslims and Arabs either.

Maybe there is no set of deals either for people to play nice in the Sandbox too. Hagel isn't stupid to want to find out for sure, given the alternatives.

Over the years, we stood for notably more than that cheap gas too, and the replacement players won't do that in the slightest, i.e. Russia and China. 

As to positive reasons to support Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense, his being a combat veteran is a good thing, not because it has any actual usefulness as to understanding modern warfare, as its closer to 2017 than 1967, but really to make it easier for him to prevail in pissing contests with people who want to whip that one out as an argument over policy, and especially over bureaucratic fiefdoms under budgetary threat in times of fiscal austerity.

That happens a lot in the Pentagon "E Ring," and so Hagel's combat experience will offset some people being unhappy about his policy stances on the Iraq War, although that does show some limitations as to military judgment that the Surge would fail, and as to bailing too soon on Afghanistan.

Then again as to potential Hagel complaints in the Pentagon, lots of people who aren't pacifists had buyer's regret about Iraq, lots, if a subset of the supporters of the Surge did so because of the Powell "You Break it You Own It" moral obligation too.

As to the point about being very careful about bailing too soon in Afghanistan, a real consideration of a new Secretary of Defense, even in Iraq, we can now see the argument for some light presence as to intimidating Iran and Syria still, if that's water under the bridge now too, and just a lesson to ponder.

But as to real things to care about in the next Secretary of Defense, everybody gearing up for PACCOM/China time better also remember Godfather III for CENTCOM too; every time I try to get out, they drag me back in, and that's everyone, not just Israel, and see the Damon movie for that point.

As to legislative experience  as a reason to confirm Senator Hagel, that is very much a net  plus, since he knows the politics of such things, important in dealing with the impending decline in the Defense budget.

The rest of the alleged issues of Hagel then fade, and then you have a legislator with a lot of experience in defense matters who is unquestionably qualified, and who unlike in the John Tower case carries no personal baggage, and who so should be confirmed quickly, if with serious questions on Iran.

That is because it is clearly the case that like in Israel, there is a policy divide in America on Iran.

Having an honest discussion about Iran is totally reasonable in a democracy as to what it is we are reasonably trying to achieve in Iran, which includes a discussion of this question: "Is the potentially massive use of American force in Iran the best idea to take deadly seriously as an option to induce bargaining and/or achieve the desired policy result?"

Some people think so,  and some don't.

However, going over  why that is or is not the case in the opinion of the Second in Command as the new Secretary of Defense is important to operating eyes wide open, just remembering Godfather III and the CENTCOM Sandbox: "Every time we try to get out, they try to drag us back in."


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If I knew more of Hagel's record I probably wouldn't like him. But I'm certainly glad that he ticks off the lobby.

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs." -Mahatma Gandhi

Apartheid in the Holy Land by Desmond Tutu
It is what it is, and was a long, long time ago. Where were they to go?
That lobby overreacts to things, if for understandable reasons too.
And Gandhi, he is a reason for a certain wariness still in some quarters, although India and Israel have a common sometimes enemy too. Some of that as in jest, or much of it, as to it being tiresome sometimes of in the event of any disagreement, then you get labeled a closet Nazi, when it is just the case that we have to manage as an imperial power a lot of considerations, not all of which go together very well, like being friends with Israelis and Arabs, and really we'd like to get along with Persians too, so we can manage the Bears and Chinese, if we'd rather not be enemies with them either. It ain't easy being the Sheriff/Sharif, Shogun.