I know that not a lot of people, in Washington or out, are thinking about this stuff this week, but former Sen. Chuck Hagel continues to be dogged by a ludicrous smear campaign. Given the Administration’s near-silence on the matter, I continue to be worried that President Obama is going to let the campaign work—simultaneously allowing the world at large to continue to conclude that, really, Israel’s right-wing supporters set U.S. foreign policy (a conclusion that also, frankly, worries me).
Exhibit #1,247 (give or take): this ad, produced by (pay close attention) the Emergency Committee for Israel.
And there it is, straight-up-no-chaser: You don’t support the Emergency Committee for Israel’s desire for an attack on Iran? You are not fit to be Secretary of Defense in the United States government.
It is not good for Israel or the Jewish people to perpetuate the notion that U.S. policy is set in Jerusalem. Neither is it good for America or American security interests to let a small, unrepresentative group of power-hungry political machers set the tone for Presidential decision-making.
Former C.I.A. official Paul Pillar wrote last week in The National Interest, “Intimidation feeds on itself, with successful intimidation encouraging more of the same and failures discouraging further attempts.” This president has an ambitious agenda for his second term, one which I desperately hope includes working toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Allowing himself to be browbeaten by the likes of Bill Kristol will not further that agenda.
As I've said before, I like Hagel. He has an instinct toward diplomacy and a willingness to say what he believes is really best for his country. I’ve liked him on Israel for a long time, and I also like his respect for one Israeli in particular, Yitzhak Rabin, as expressed to the Israel Policy Forum in 2008:
I don’t know of a better role model or an individual to point to than Yitzhak Rabin. What Yitzhak Rabin did, what he represented, what he still represents is hope, that in his memory, in his honor, but for his courage and boldness, we can come back with a Rabin too. It takes leaders on the other side. Sadat, Begin. It will take a unique set of leaders to do this. It’s possible. Leaders change the world.
I like Hagel. And I really do not like what is being done to his good name by the likes of the ECI. I hope the President doesn’t like it either.