Just Who Do They Represent: At Hagel Hearing, Concern for Israel Tops U.S. Troops in Combat

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Brandon Friedman
When Senator Mike Lee took his turn to cross-examine defense-secretary nominee Chuck Hagel during last Thursday’s confirmation hearing, he expressed considerable concern for Israel’s security.

“Let’s say those Palestinians who have engaged in acts of terrorism, perhaps in retaliation against Israel for Israel defending itself,” the Republican from Utah asked, “do they have a legitimate gripe?”

Hagel responded that “terrorism can never be justified under any circumstances.”

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Brandon Friedman

Lee continued, bringing up the possibility that Israel might withdraw to its pre-1967 borders.  “Do you view that as a tenable solution?” he asked Hagel.  “Do you believe such borders are militarily defensible?”

This went on and on. In fact, Lee—by himself—made reference to Israel and its security a total of 16 times.

Why is this important? It’s important because Lee never mentioned Afghanistan and the 66,000 U.S. troops at war there.

And Lee was not alone.

Freshman Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also grilled Hagel about Israel. He mentioned the Jewish state 10 times—without ever once referring to Afghanistan or the U.S. troops in combat there.

When it was their turn to question Hagel, GOP senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Roger Wicker of Mississippi each referred to Israel in a half dozen instances.  Neither mentioned Afghanistan.

In nearly eight hours of interrogation and testimony, Israel and its interests were referred to by the Senate Armed Services Committee a total of 106 times. On the other hand, there were a mere 24 references made to Afghanistan and the Americans fighting there—most by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the committee.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan—where the U.S. frequently targets militants with drone-launched Hellfire missiles—barely merited mention at all.

It’s difficult to interpret this message any other way: the Senate Armed Services Committee—particularly its Republican membership—is more concerned with the apparent American defense secretary’s relationship with Israel than with the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the fate of U.S. troops engaged in both locations.

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Brandon Friedman

We are approaching a host of critical and delicate decisions on how many — and how fast — U.S. troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan. Yet, after more than a decade at war there — and nearly 2,100 U.S. lives lost — the people charged with overseeing the operation seem no longer interested.

While Israel is a strategic ally in a precarious situation (the committee also frequently brought up Iran), at best, this sends a disheartening message to the American men and women serving down range, under hostile fire. After 11 years of fighting, committee members seem to have little concern for what the likely incoming defense secretary thinks of the situation.

Fatigue is a factor—both parties are more than ready to be done with the Afghan venture. But beginnings, and endings, of any enterprise are often the most important. If anyone has a right to be exhausted of this process, to be tired of thinking about it, living it, and troubleshooting it, it’s not senators in Washington. It’s the men and women who have fought—and are fighting—there.

After so much blood and treasure, it shouldn’t be too much to ask that the people who sent them there, and have kept them there, pay fuller attention to our ongoing hot war—even as it enters its final stages. It’s the least they could do for the soldier taking fire today.

Brandon Friedman is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and author of The War I Always Wanted.  He is a vice president at Fleishman-Hillard International Communications in Washington, D.C.  Follow him on Twitter at @BFriedmanDC.

66 comments
enquiries
enquiries

The overwhelming focus on Israel is logical and inevitable. American foreign - and military - policy is controlled by the Israeli - or more accurately Jewish - lobby. And that is a direct result of the American government being directed not by national interest or democracy, but the will of the Jewish bankers of New York. I am no conspiracy theorist - this is reality!

hbradish
hbradish

Phony baloney Christian whatevers who wouldn't know Christ if they kicked him while he was down.

Not to mention the double dealing which should leave everyone reaching for their pistols.

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-by to the Bill of Rights.
 -- H.L. Mencken

RJFrancis
RJFrancis

Why not call it as it is? American politicians are entirely controlled by the lobby AIPAC which cares not for America but for a country far, far away.

JorgeJohnson
JorgeJohnson

A gaffe about Israel is worth denial of an appointment. Everything else is forgivable. Thus, the focus.

JohnFrum
JohnFrum

 It's formulaic;

Hagel 'ON' --> Iran 'OFF' --> Israeli Apartheid 'OFF' --> Israeli Lobby 'OFF'. 


Let's keep our mind on the prize here. 


The primary prize Obama is driving for is America's own clean break from the stranglehold of the Israeli Lobby as it currently stands, with its command of 99-0 Senate votes and all the rest of its fun and games


For those who had given up on the permanent entrenchment of the Israeli Lobby - no war on Iran knocks the door down.

The key is Iran - by successfully stopping this KEY neocon strategic thrust the US is managing to free itself from the dictates of AIPAC and Israel over the US political process, foreign policy, and military strategies


The ONLY thing that matters right now is that Obama and Hagel stop Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby from forcing/mousetrapping the US into an attack on Iran - THAT'S IT. 

It's a 'single issue' 

If an Iran attack is stopped, Israeli Apartheid is without any effective cover and will be taken care of how Apartheid South Africa was taken care of - and then the Israeli Lobby no longer has any cover as well. 

With the Netanyahu-hoaxed/mousestrapped pushing of the US into a war with Iran STOPPED - it's all over for Israeli Apartheid

Let's keep our eye on the PRIZE - it's Iran. The rest are dominoes 

 Hagel 'ON' = Iran 'OFF' = Israeli Apartheid 'OFF' = Israeli Lobby 'OFF' 

(The Israeli Lobby 'OFF' = the 2nd American Revolution)

HajjaRomiElnagar
HajjaRomiElnagar

I thought the job of the Secretary of Defense was to care about U.S. troops, not U.S. foreign policy.  Since the last time I checked, we don't have any troops in Israel, I don't know why Chuck Hagel should be concerned about Israel.  Oh! I remember now!  One of our ships was attacked in 1967 by Israel.  I thought we would have taken care of that by now.

ChristineKeele1
ChristineKeele1

Hagel's views on Afghanistan are not controversial and in line with Administration policy. His views on Israel are possibly far removed from traditional and ostensibly current, US policy; hence the focus on Israel.

 By discussing a non-issue, this article effectively makes the reader overlook the fact that Hagel demonstrated during questioning, why he is totally unfit to be Secretary of Defense. I should probably spell it out for the mob here: when he was handed the note pointing out his error on the containment policy, he flubbed the situation very badly. An American SoD needs to be able to handle these situations smoothly and Hagel showed clearly that he cannot.

bobcn
bobcn

"Just Who Do They Represent: At Hagel Hearing, Concern for Israel Tops U.S. Troops in Combat"

Best title ever.  

I was once accused of being anti-semitic for pointing out (to an evangelical christian who is impatiently awaiting the apocalypse) that Israel is a foreign country.

drbillykidd
drbillykidd

Great article. Yes, when the Prime Minister of Israel comes to the U.S. and actively campaings for the Republican nominee for President, you know you got an Israeli Lobby problem.

zhenry9
zhenry9

It's especially concerning seeing as any rational analysis would lead us to cut ties with Israel.  The Israeli state absolutely does not have our best interests in heart, and I say we have lost enough blood, treasure, and international standing over them.

AfGuy
AfGuy

"Just who do they represent..."

That's a rhetorical question, right?

Don_Bacon
Don_Bacon

Look on the bright side. There's little interest in Afghanistan, where Americans are dying, which more than counters the excessive interest in Israel, where they're not, because it endangers the US "enduring interest" in Afghanistan.

news report: As outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey made media rounds on Sunday, they brought a joint message: the U.S. is not leaving Afghanistan in 2014.

Now if this senatorial lack of interest can be transmitted to the Pentagon . . .

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Things I would have liked to see mentioned during the hearing that was not mentioned (or hardly mentioned at all)

1)  Growing PTSD and suicide rates with troops returning home

2)  Afghanistan & Iraq

3)  The Defense Budget

4)  The growing threat of cyber-warfare (and in that vein, China)

5)  Over saturation of Generals & Admirals in the Pentagon

6)  Troop levels and fighting sustainability after protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

7)  The progression of DADT repeal and results

8)  Women in combat

Oh well, I guess Israel is more important than all of these things.  Maybe next time, huh?

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

Relevant observations of the irrelevancy of the line of questioning.   Mention of the wars would be timely let alone logistics, budgets, management, the future of the military, military families.  Maybe these matters were addressed in the Sec. of State confirmation hearings?  Of course we know that these prima donnas don't give a tinkers damn about anything but prancing around when the cameras are rolling and rallying the right wing religious idiots. 

GodluvzAmerica!
GodluvzAmerica!

Is Israel the litmus test Secretary of Defense? God help us!

jmac
jmac

"Who do they represent"  ?    It's not that hard to figure out.    Follow the money.  "They" are bought and paid for.  Whether it's Wall Street, Israel, whatever, conservatives follow the money.  It helps when they have to rely on faulty math and redrawing of maps to have that back-up money on hand when policy and faulty math can't hack it.   

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Is there a pie chart that depicts the SuperPac Money contributed vs. the mentions of certain topics? If there was timeline, would it illustrate the timing of our slip from democracy to  plutocracy- rule by the wealthy and correlate it to the Citizens United Ruling? (or to some other events?) Uh, or do too many people bristle at the mention of these sorts of prodding issues?

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

There's another way to look at it: Hearings are political theater and it's bad politics to be opposed to the Afghan pull out while it's good politics to be in favor of Israel so if there is no political upside to discussing Afghanistan, might as well not talk about it.  So it says too much about politicization of Washington rather than anything about Israel.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

Great, now you've just cemented a filibuster. Had hopes till now.

Tochorian
Tochorian

@ChristineKeele1Hagel is the most qualified nominee for SoD in recent history. Just because he doesn't believe, like you, that Israel has a right to violate international law and annex the West Bank, doesn't mean he's unqualified.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@ChristineKeele1 The 'mob' was the one-note orchestra attacking Hagel for merely having stated he was a Senator for the United States of America NOT an Israeli Senator.   The chutzpah of not mewing at the Likud's every whim--not unlike Barak Obama--was enough to jazz up AIPAC and these well-healed multi-organizations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_lobby_in_the_United_States

You can live wearing blinders or you can shill but to call it a 'non-issue'  recalls Groucho's great line, "You gonna believe me or your own lying eyes?"   I'll go on Hagel's decorated combat military record, his acumen, and his bi-partisan, non-toxic record in the Senate.   And as for te kowtowing to the Israeli, expansionist far-right, militant, arrogant Likud & intractably racist Avigdor Lieberman minions, not so much.

AfGuy
AfGuy

@bobcn Was that "evangelical" a Southern Baptist, maybe?

sacredh
sacredh

I wouldn't want us to cut ties with Israel, but I would prefer to let them know in no uncertain terms that they're not in the same category as England, Canada or even Japan when it comes to our closest allies.

Doubtom
Doubtom

@DonQuixotic I would have liked to finally get a definition of this "Special Relationship" were suppose to have with Israel from one of those toady Senators who behave as though they were sent to Washington to represent Israel.  There's no question that we're on the hook, when it comes to the annual drain of billions of our scarce tax dollars being donated to Israel each and every year for over 60 years while our own people suffer form loss of jobs, life savings and even their homes by the millions.  What does it take for those lapdogs of Israel to turn their attention to our own people???You know, their constituents,,the people who voted them into office?  Time to oust AIPAC from our political arena and brand it a foreign lobby like it actually is.  Israel has better access to our Senators than we have; what's wrong with this picture?  Wake up America!

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@DonQuixotic I would have been happy with a few questions about how we might improve defense department security so that our ally, Isreal, wouldn't be able to spy on us as much as they seem to.

HajjaRomiElnagar
HajjaRomiElnagar

@DonQuixotic To your excellent list, I would simply like to add a question about how the use of DEPLETED URANIUM is affecting our troops. (I wouldn't go so far as to ask how it affects the Afghanis.)

And, on the topic of women in combat, I would like to know what the Pentagon is doing about the RAPE of women in the military in general, and whether they are going to be any more concerned if those women happen to be combat troops.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@DonQuixotic Don Q.  One more thing, the pocketed Senators bid you don't make mention of their vast and unctuously blind apologist fawning of the Jewish State.  Please pretend it doesn't happen.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@formerlyjames 

I disagree with the  last part of  your post.  The writer, Brandon Friedman, makes excellent use of two pie charts, one for Republican senators (amongst them no dearth of 'Right-wingers') and one for Democrat senators (including many liberals).

The great coup of the Israel/Likud/ Settler movement Lobby in the United States is that its influence is incredibly bi-partisan. There is no bright-line when you note Senate toadies trying to out toady one another.  The Lobby fills coffers of Liberals and Conservatives alike; and if you drop your guard and don't appear to kowtow to expansionist Israel, well you're gonna be out of a job, irrespective of your party affiliations.   Take Mr. Hagel for instance. 

If you don't believe me go to www.opensecrets.org and look up campaign contributors to Liberal members of congress, for example Patty Murray.  You'll may be surprised at how much she or her liberal colleague on the Senate floor Maria Cantwell take from AIPAC or other pro-annexationist groups who claim to support Israel.



HajjaRomiElnagar
HajjaRomiElnagar

@GodluvzAmerica! We should only be worried when it gets to be the litmus test for Secretary of the Interior.  Or Labor.  Really.  I mean, what would we do without all those well-intentioned Likudniks looking out for our hard-earned tax dollars?!

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@jmac NOT just conservatives.  Take a look at Mr. Friedman's pie chart.  Ingeniously, the Israel Lobby bankrolls Democrats and Republicans alike.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@forgottenlord And WHY would it be good politics to do the Israeli Likud's bidding?   Most Americans are apathetic xenophobes & they could care less about a tiny country in the Middle East,  the highly successful "Start-up State" and giving them, carte blanche, any cutting-edge military technology and materiel they want for free along with about  $5 billion a year that they'll never pay back?   Most American taxpayers would shudder to think Israel, a rich country by most standards, gets more foreign aid than all other foreign nations combined.

ChristineKeele1
ChristineKeele1

@GuillermoSaavedra  That string of adjectives will be recognized by any rational person as the sign of someone who has been led into an idea by others. It's a lousy substitute for answering the point I made about Hagel being unsuitable. Your expectoratory response does not change that.

bobcn
bobcn

@AfGuy @bobcnI don't know.  

While I visited his home Pat Robertson was running on the TV the whole time I was there (with the sound turned down).   Another time he and his wife declared that witches are real.  I decided I wasn't interested in having any deeper knowledge about his religious beliefs.

Doubtom
Doubtom

@GuillermoSaavedra You're right of course; AIPAC is smart enough to approach both parties and always has.  It is unhealthy to oppose anything having to do with Israel as some have found out.  Of course, through all of this, AIPAC continues to insist that it exerts no undue influence on our politicians,; not their only lie but certainly one of their bigger whoppers.  

The Senate Republicans are now contemplating an unprecedented move in filibustering Hagel's nomination.  That this has never happened before, clearly illustrates the real power of the "jewish lobbies", which they insist doesn't exist.  We have to rid ourselves of this notion that we can have dual-citizenship without a conflict of interest.  No one can have allegiance to two countries simultaneously; the notion is preposterous if not downright ridiculous, certainly it is unworkable.  As well, the money has to be taken out of our politics altogether, with very severe punishment for any infractions, say 20 years for bribing officials, which is exactly what lobbying is regardless of what you call it.  


jmac
jmac

@GuillermoSaavedra You're spinning.   Both sides take from Wall Street.   Going to spin that, too,  as one side is owned hooked line and sinker by Wall Street?   You obviously completely missed the last election as you gaze at pie charts.  

jmac
jmac

@GuillermoSaavedra @jmac The Israel lobby doesn't own Democrats.   There wasn't a billionaire putting millions on a Democratic candidate.   The banks still give to both sides to hedge a bet - that doesn't mean they don't buy one side - and one side depends on them.  

dansmith1763
dansmith1763

@GuillermoSaavedra most Americans do not know or do not care, a small % of Americans care very very much and will make Senators lives a misery if they do not toe the line. One question Hagel refused to answer was give an example of a dumb thing any Senators have done at the behest of the Israel lobby, and he would not give an example. The entire hearing was a blatant example.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@GuillermoSaavedra 

Polls do not agree with you.  Israel regularly polls very well amongst Americans.  Also, there's a significant segment of the US that wants Israel to succeed because it will bring about the apocalypse which is somehow a good thing.  I'm not saying it makes sense or that Israel is worthy of such respect/friendship/whatever, I'm saying that it's good politics.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

And your fixation on canines rings quite Freudian. 

While we're on the subject, please tell your friend Bibi ( the murderous, expansionist, wing-nut thug, landgrabbing, poor little nuclear-clad victim this:   You can kill the b*tch, but the puppies remain.

ChristineKeele1
ChristineKeele1

@GuillermoSaavedra I am not with "the Lobby."  My group is "The Vestibule." And while you're calling me a "lapdog," I could not help but notice that your, "... expansionist far-right, militant, arrogant..." was quite Pavlovian.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@ChristineKeele1 @GuillermoSaavedra Clumsy dodge. Hagel misspoke at his star-chamber and corrected himself.  You're point by omission is that you're a sycophant of the Lobby and cranky McCain, Graham, and the other Likud lapdogs.   Don't worry, smart money is on your side this round; but it's a long road that's got no turns. 

Doubtom
Doubtom

@jmac @GuillermoSaavedra Party labels are meaningless; the billionaire you mentioned is Sheldon Adelson, who use to be a Democrat.  His main loyalty is to Israel and he'll give to the communist party if necessary in order to bering about his agenda.  He has no loyalty to these United States, only to money and Israel.  He should be deported as an alien.   And he's only the most obvious, they're are others of his tribe who are every bit as active for Israel and who fund anyone wh o supports Israel unconditionally.  When you can donate over 100 million dollars to any candidate, like Adelson did, it should make the final case for the claim that Congress is bought and paid for by the jewish lobbies.  Do you know of any other individual who has put down that amount of money toward any candidate?  I'll save you the trouble of research,,,there is no one!  

Doubtom
Doubtom

@HajjaRomiElnagar @forgottenlord @GuillermoSaavedra Oh, it is and always has been much closer to NYC!  With pockets in Florida and California.  The jews have snuck up on our political process to occupy way more seats in our Congress than their total numbers would suggest.  They're barely 2% of our total population yet they hold both Senators' seats in California, one of the most populous states along with many members of the House, especially around Southern California and Hollywierd.  Money runs our politics and the sooner we get rid of it, the sooner we'll return our government to the people of these United States, instead of to Israel.  

HajjaRomiElnagar
HajjaRomiElnagar

@forgottenlord @GuillermoSaavedra Finally somebody has said it:  putting the defense of Israel ahead of the defense of the US is INDEED "treasonous." Unless, of course, you are geographically challenged and think that Israel is some place slightly east of Birmingham.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@GuillermoSaavedra

Just to clarify: I think Israeli policy is repugnant and I think it has been disastrously bad for the US and continues to be disastrously bad for the US to prop up a nation that has done so many repugnant things and the current terrorism problems can most clearly be attributed to the presence of Israel and its continued subjugation of the Palestinian people.  Further, the standard policy in Washington puts the security of Israel ahead of the security of the US and continuously and consistently fails to recognize the distinction - an error that could reasonably be classified as treasonous.

That doesn't mean I don't think it's good politics, it just means I think the pro-Israeli stance is bad policy.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@GuillermoSaavedra

And yet, when the polls are sent out, Israel wins consistently.

You are confusing what is good policy or right or just or reasonable and what most people would believe if actually given the facts with what is good politics which is simply what pleases sufficient numbers of voters to sway votes in your direction.  Low information voters have been convinced, somehow, that the safety and security of Israel is completely tied to the safety and security of the US.  Or something.  I don't get it.  Regardless, it is still good politics.

Good politics always has and always will mean what provides the greatest ability for a person to maintain power.  These politicians hammer on about defending Israel because it gets them reelected - by Americans.

GuillermoSaavedra
GuillermoSaavedra

@forgottenlord @GuillermoSaavedra are you saying that Americans study the ME?  My point is that their opinion of Israel is colored by those who spend millions to influence their perception.  I be Americans who are polled disagree with the Estate or 'Death Tax' too, well-bought misperception that it impacts everyone who dies.

I would like Israel to succeed.  They don't stand a chance if they subsume millions of Palestinians, in a land grab to fulfill a biblical prophesy of Eretz Yisrael or Greater Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.   I strongly doubt most Americans would go along with that, since the vast majority of Americans don't buy a literal interpretation of the Bible and indeed believe .in our laws which keep a separation between church and state


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