Hagel’s weak theses

President Obama’s prospective nomination of Chuck Hagel to the position of Secretary of Defense is an appalling expression of Obama’s deep thoughts on American foreign policy. He supports shrinking the military, opposes the use of force against Iran’s nuclear program and undermines the most basic support of Israel and Jewish causes. Jennifer Rubin has posted American Jewish Committee President David Harris’s remarkable recollection:

The AJC asked senators to join a statement against anti-Semitism in Russia that would appear during then-president Boris Yeltsin’s visit to the United States. Harris says “We published the letter as a full-page ad in the New York Times with 99 Senate signatories. Only Sen. Hagel’s name was absent.”

Certain of his former Senate aides released a fact sheet supporting Hagel today. Having obtained and reviewed a copy of the document, I can describe the fact sheet as almost laughably thin. The problem is simple. The Hagelians don’t have a lot to work with.

Late this evening the Wall Street Journal published an article on the effort by Hagel’s supporters to rehabilitate him both on substantive issues, such as his opposition to the use of military force against Iran, and on what Bret Stephens described a few days ago as “the odor” of what sounds very much like anti-Jewish prejudice. The article briefly mentions the fact sheet but goes light on its specifics, which are themselves lighter than air.

The fact sheet begins with what are literally single-sentence lines from Hagel’s book America: Our Next Chapter purportedly showing support for Israel. Why such terse fragments? The obvious answer is that if they included the sentences around their cherry-picked excerpts, it would be obvious that Hagel’s book is an anti-Israel tract. In one case they literally stop before the word “but.”

The rest of the document proceeds in much the same way, oscillating between “pro-Israel” quotes taken out of context and statements of support from far-left Jewish critics of Israel. At one point, to show that Hagel would support the use of force against Iran, they cite his support for using force against Kosovo and Al Qaeda – neither of which, pointedly, are Iran. Then they note that Hagel recognizes the dangers of Iranian nuclear breakout – without noting that Hagel’s solution is functionally indefinite diplomacy.

If this is the best Hagel’s defenders can do, the administration should be in for a brutal nomination battle that will drain it of political capital it undoubtedly hopes to invest elsewhere.

UPDATE: I see the Hagelian fact sheet has been posted online here.

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