January 10, 2013

Differing Views - How Should the Left View Hagel's Nomination

Phyllis Bennis writes:

But still—a Pentagon chief who actually believes his agency’s budget should be cut—that’s new. And ultimately, that’s probably the most important reason for the attack dogs slavering for Hagel’s skin. The Washington Post editorialized that Hagel’s willingness to cut military spending was one of the key reasons to oppose his nomination. Behind the Post, of course, are the military producers and contractors whose CEOs fortunes stand (rarely fall) on the Pentagon’s budget.

Unfortunately, military cuts of the size we really need to rebuild the economy and make our country and the world truly safer—ending the Afghanistan war quickly and entirely, stopping the drone wars, moving towards complete nuclear disarmament, closing the 1,000 or so overseas military bases—will not be on the agenda of Chuck Hagel or anyone else at the Pentagon. But still. Better someone in charge who agrees that Pentagon spending is not sacrosanct than someone who views their role to keep every last billion dollars in military hands.

The Post editorial board went on to condemn Hagel’s politics overall. Most cross-party appointments, they said, “offer a veneer of bipartisanship to the national security team.” But Hagel would be different—he would not “move it toward the center, which is the usual role of such opposite-party nominees. On the contrary: Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term—and place him near the fringe of the Senate.”

Whatever else he is, Chuck Hagel is no leftist. Standing to the left of President Obama’s center-right military policy is not a very high bar. But again—standing up to AIPAC, the defense industry (and members of Congress accountable to them) and the still-powerful neocons makes the Hagel appointment a good move for Obama. And it gives the rest of us a basis to push much farther to end the wars, to close the bases, to cut the Pentagon funding, to tax the military profiteers.

Read the entire article here.

Allen Ruff writes:

Following weeks of trial-balloon conjecture, President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel, the former Senator from Nebraska and oft-described “moderate Republican,” to succeed Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense.

Conservative critics had raised objections as soon as Hagel’s name surfaced as a probable nominee in mid-November. The usual pack of neocon watchdogs charged him with being inadequately hawkish on Iran and out of lockstep on Israel.

Towing its increasingly neocon editorial line, the Washington Post on November 18th editorialized that Hagel was “not the right choice for defense secretary.” Citing the ex-Senator-cum-Washington insider’s public record, the Post asserted: “Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term.” (Hagel once had the temerity to suggest that Pentagon spending should be “pared down.” Imagine!)

Detractors dredged up a back-when Senate vote against Iran sanctions as rightwing media hacks echo chambered alleged “anti-Semitism” based upon the Senator’s years ago use of the phrase “Jewish lobby”. He certainly rankled some Israel right-or-wrong types in 2006 when he said, “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator. I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Liberal backers, in response, immediately sprung to the Nebraskan’s defense. The Atlantic’s James Fallows described him as a “wise bipartisan pick” with Vietnam combat-vet cred and a “cautious realist-centrist record” while filleting the “bogus case against Chuck Hagel.”

Read the entire article here.

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