In search of antithesis

Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is apparently the prospective Obama nominee to replace Leon Panetta as the Secretary of Defense. Earlier this week my daughter Eliana reported how he has been lobbying for a senior position in the administration. With Chuck Hagel at Defense and John Kerry at State, we would have a one-two punch aimed squarely at our own head.

In the Weekly Standard editorial “The Hagel thesis,” Bill Kristol joins Paul Mirengoff in reviewing the record and concludes: “Chuck Hagel would do far more damage at Defense than [Susan] Rice would have done at State. To have blocked Rice and then roll over for Hagel would be a disgrace.”

In a companion post on the Weekly Standard site Bill has published a fact sheet circulating on Capitol Hill. As Bill explains, it details Hagel’s record on a number of issues under the heading “An introduction to the reading of Hagel.” Here it is:

1. In November 2001, Hagel was one of 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter requesting President Bush not meet with Yassir Arafat until forces linked to Arafat’s Fatah party ceased attacks on Israel.

2. In December 2005, Hagel was one of 27 Senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush requesting the U.S. pressure the Palestinians to ban terrorist groups from participating in legislative elections.

3. In July 2006, Hagel called on President Bush to demand an immediate cease-fire when Israel retaliated against Hezbollah after the terrorist group attacked Israel, abducted two IDF soldiers, and fired rockets at Israeli civilians.

4. In August 2006, Hagel was only of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter asking the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

5. In 2007, Hagel voted against designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization.

Israel and “the Jewish Lobby”

1. In October 2000, Hagel was one of only four Senators who refused to sign a letter expressing support for Israel during the second Palestinian intifada.

2. In July 2002, in a Washington Post op-ed, after several of the most deadly months of Palestinian suicide bombings, Hagel wrote that the U.S. was erroneously “making Yassir Arafat the issue,” that Palestinians could not be expected to make democratic reforms as long as “Israeli military occupation and settlement activity” continue, and that “Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace.”

3. In November 2003, Hagel failed to vote on the Syria Accountability Act authorizing sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorism and occupation of Lebanon. The Act passed by a vote of 89 to 4.

4. In July 2006, Hagel called on the Bush Administration to take up the Beirut Declaration of 2002, also known as the “Saudi Peace Initiative,” saying it was “a starting point” that had been “squandered” by the United States. It calls on Israel to retreat from the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and much of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, as a precondition for peace.

5. In calling upon President Bush to demand an immediate ceasefire after Israel responded to a Hezbollah attack in 2006, Hagel said: “This madness must stop,” and accused Israel of “the systematic destruction of an American friend — the country and people of Lebanon.”

6. “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” (Hagel interviewed in Aaron David Miller’s 2008 book The Too Much Promised Land)

7. In 2009, Hagel signed onto a letter urging President Obama to open direct negotiations with Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel and which has perpetrated dozens of suicide bombings that have killed or injured hundreds of civilians in Israel, including many Americans.

8. The National Jewish Democratic Council says Hagel has “a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel.”

9. When questioned about his pro-Israel record during a meeting in New York with supporters of Israel, Hagel is reported to have said, “Let me clear something up here if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. 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.”

Iran

1. On July 24, 2001, Hagel was one of only two U.S. senators who voted against renewing the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

2. In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging that President Bush highlight Iran’s nuclear program while at the G-8 summit.

3. In a 2007 letter to President Bush, Hagel urged “direct, unconditional” talks with Iran to create a “historic new dynamic in US-Iran relations.”

4. In 2007, declined to join 72 Senators in supporting a bipartisan sanctions bill called the Iran Counter Proliferation Act.

5. In a 2007 speech, Hagel claimed that “Continued hostile relations between the United States and Iran will have the effect of isolating the United States.”

6. In 2008, Hagel voted in the Senate Banking Committee against legislation imposing sanctions on countries conducting certain business with Iran.

7. In March 2012, Hagel suggested Iran had “a couple of face-saving ways” out of a new round of economic sanctions over its nuclear program. “You cannot push the Iranians into a corner where they can’t get out,” he said.

Bill’s post has links supporting each of the numbered items. The Hagel thesis calls for antithesis, and soon.

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