Sunday, January 13, 2013
At issue are Hagel's 2002 views on the Iraq invasion (said it would be a mistake), Iran (he urges caution, military restraint and direct dialogue) and his use of what some call a derogatory term regarding Jews.
Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 Hagel, concerned that some of his fellow Republicans were rushing to war, claimed they lacked the perspective of veterans like him who've "sat in jungles or foxholes and watched their friends get their heads blown off." These same Republicans, none of whom ever donned a military uniform, had the audacity to call Hagel weak and an "appeaser." But what does Hagel, a Vietnam combat vet with two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Army Commendation Medal, know about war, right?
The charge of anti-Semitism is equally offensive. Hagel has come under fire for once using the phrase "Jewish lobby" during an interview. This is a cheap shot; a reprehensible, egregious charge which is unfair and patently false. The phrase "Jewish state" has been a common term since the establishment of Israel, used by prominent officials from President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to President Obama and even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pardon me for being logical, but if it's completely acceptable to refer to Israel as the "Jewish state" then it would seem reasonable for Hagel to have referred to its advocates as the "Jewish lobby" without the anti-Semite label hurled at him by a bunch of pathetic cowards who'd just as soon send someone else's kid off to die in battle than ever serve themselves.
I'm not saying that military service is a prerequisite for being hawkish. But on the other hand, having served and bled in battle certainly earns one the right to speak out against war and to caution against its ravaging consequences. Condemning Hagel for doing so is an unconscionable affront to every soldier who's ever worn the uniform.
What's happening here is simple: we're witnessing the residual affects of the GOP's humiliating defeat in November and its recent loss in the Fiscal Cliff tax battle. Republicans are back and they're pissed!. They're trying everything in their power to obstruct Obama and Democrats on every conceivable front, even if that means shamelessly indicting a decent, rational, thoughtful patriot like Hagel whose oasis of diplomatic and military reason in a sea of sabre-rattling war-mongers is so desperately needed right now at the highest levels of government.