Last week, I asked: If Obama nominates Hagel, will that make Jews who worry about Iran but voted for Obama useful idiots? After all, Hagel voted against designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization; urged President Bush to open “direct, unconditional” talks with Iran to create “a historic new dynamic in U.S.-Iran relations;” was a reliable “no” vote on sanctions against Iran; and serves on the board of directors of Deutsche Bank, which is reportedly being probed by U.S. authorities for possible violations of the very kinds of sanctions Hagel opposed when he was in Congress.
Alana Goodman adds another dimension to the “useful idiot” question. She reminds us that Obama supporters in the pro-Israel community took pains during the election to assure us that Obama was serious about using military force against Iran, if need be. Thus Alan Dershowitz said in the Jerusalem Post:
There are some, in both parties, who wrongly believe that a policy of “containment” – that is, allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons but containing their use by the threat of tit-for-tat reprisal – is the right strategy. President Obama has explicitly rejected this benighted approach and has instead announced that his policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it takes military action to do so. In the meantime, he has ratcheted up sanctions and diplomatic pressure while explicitly keeping the military option on the table.
Several months ago, President Obama invited me to the Oval Office to discuss his Iran strategy. He looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t bluff.” His actions with regard to Osama bin Laden and the Somali pirates who endangered Americans and threatened to kill them demonstrated his willingness to use force when warranted. So does his increased use of drones to target terrorists who are beyond the reach of capture. I believe President Obama when he says that Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons on his watch.
Similarly, Jeffery Goldberg wrote in the Atlantic:
I run into people constantly who believe that the bluffer in this relationship is Obama. Their argument holds that Obama will move toward a strategy of containment soon after the election, and that there is no way he would ever use military force to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.
I’m in the camp of people, however, who take him at his word, in part because he’s repeated himself on the subject so many times and in part because he has laid out such an effective argument against containment and for disruption, by force, if necessary.
But, as Goodman shows, Hagel strongly opposes using force against Iran:
I do not expect any kind of military solution on the Iran issue. I think to further comment on it would be complete speculation, but I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.
In fact, Hagel opposes talking about using force against Iran, even as a bluff:
I think talking about going to war with Iran in fairly specific terms should be carefully reviewed. And that’s pretty dangerous talk. It’s easy to get a nation into war; not so easy to get a nation out of war, as we are finding out.
If Obama nominates Hagel as his Secretary of Defense, it will be a slap in the face for Dershowitz, Goldberg, and many other liberal American Jews. But that, or worse, is what normally happens to useful idiots.