Opinion

Chuck Hagel’s views are mainstream

Photo of John Glaser
John Glaser
Contributor, Antiwar.com

But that’s not all. Posen argues — again, in the U.S.’s main establishment journal — for a significant retrenchment in U.S. foreign policy. “The United States,” he thinks, “should withdraw from the military command structure” of N.A.T.O. and bring U.S. troops home from Europe.

He believes “the Pentagon should pare down its presence in Japan” and that “U.S. soldiers no longer need to live onshore in Gulf countries, where they incite anti-Americanism and tie the U.S. government to autocratic regimes of dubious legitimacy.”

That’s far more than Hagel is arguing for, but we didn’t see Lindsey Graham burning his copy of Foreign Affairs, which I have to assume he reads considering it’s geared particularly toward the political elite.

The Republican uproar over Hagel really hit its stride when Hagel’s views on Iran became known. Hagel voted against unilateral sanctions on Iran, argued against isolating the Islamic Republic with covert aggression, and openly opposes going to war.

Incidentally, this doesn’t put Hagel out of the mainstream either. Renowned international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz has argued “the current sanctions on Iran can be dropped,” since “they primarily harm ordinary Iranians, with little purpose.”

The hawks in the GOP establishment don’t like to hear it, but it is a fact that there is no known nuclear weaponization going on in Iran. But a threatening U.S. policy could change that.

Aggression, Waltz argues, “could lead Iran to conclude that a breakout capability is an insufficient deterrent, after all, and that only weaponization can provide it with the security it seeks.”

Hagel’s opposition to going to war with Iran for a nuclear weapons program that doesn’t exist puts him in good company. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military office in the country, also believes a war is not the best option right now. Indeed, that seems to be the consensus view of most of the military establishment.

Finally, Hagel’s views on Israel have generated a firestorm of hate and ideological policing. “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite,” a senior Republican Senate aide told The Weekly Standard.

He attracted this ire because of a statement he made in a 2008 interview. “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” he said, referring to Capitol Hill.

This is an observation that is readily acknowledged by everyone who knows anything about Congress. Admittedly, Hagel used the less politically correct term “Jewish lobby” instead of “Israel lobby,” but the former term is exactly how AIPAC described itself as recently as the 1980s.