Thursday, January 31, 2013

Syncophants, shills and charlatans at work

Forget for a moment how Chuck Hagel performed at his confirmation hearing today. Consider how the U.S. Senate (as represented by its Armed Services Committee) performed:

Oh, screw it.

What I'd planned here, having listened to selected snatches of the nine-hour malignant clown show, was to extract every craven, grandstanding, litmus test-setting question demanding affirmations of unconditional support for Israel, willingness to supply limitless aid to Israel, retractions of any and all past criticism of Israel. But I can't find a transcript, and the relevant quotes are proving elusive in news stories.  Trust me, the demands of Levin, Gillibrand and Blumenthal, not to say Cruz and Graham, boiled down to this: "Mr. Hagel, if confirmed, how thoroughly and wholeheartedly will you subordinate U.S. interests to Israel's perceived interests?"

In any case, while searching for the questions in questions, I stumbled across a post by Mondoweiss expressing pretty much exactly what I wanted to say:

The first few hours of Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing have been sickening. I thought he was named to be United States Secretary of Defense, not Israel's defense. The most urgent questions were about Israel, and many came from liberal Democrats insisting that Hagel is pledged to going to war against Iran if it acquires a nuclear weapon.

Hagel was suitably craven. “I’ve said that I'm a strong supporter of Israel.. I’ve said that we have a special relationship with Israel… Ive never voted against Israel in my career… I’ve been to Israel many times,” he told Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

While Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made no bones about “the most urgent issues-- Israel and Israel’s security issues… We are fundamentally tied to [Israel].” Then Gillibrand demanded that if there has to be a continuing resolution in the event of a budget crush, the Pentagon will take pains to keep money going to Israel for its Iron Dome missile defense.

Does she believe this or is this just now the religion of Washington?
That's it. The religion of Washington.  It can't end well. When a superpower gives carte blanche to the expansionist impulses of a regionally hated regional hyperpower, blowback is sure to come -- as it will unless Obama and his successor(s) can semi-surreptitiously constrain the unconditional enablement demanded by Congress until this particular fever breaks.

Hagel, as Mondoweiss notes, walked back every critical statement he'd ever made about Israel. The crowning irony came when, challenged by Lindsey Graham, he effectively renounced his now-famous assertion (in Mondoweiss's paraphrase) that "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people on Capitol Hill and gets Congress to do “dumb” stuff:
Graham: Name one person in your opinion who’s intimidated by the Jewish lobby in the US Senate.

Hagel I don’t know...Graham: I cant think of a more provocative thing to say about the relationship of the us and Israel… [Next, tell me one dumb thing Congress did because of the pressure.]

Hagel: I have already stated that I regret [the statement].

Graham: You can’t name one senator intimidated, give me one example of dumb things pressured to do... One thing!...

Hagel: Well I cant give you an example.

Graham: Do you agree with me that you shouldn’t have said that?

Hagel: Yes I agree with you.
Um...I can name one. Former senator, that is. And come to think of it, about 100 sitting ones. Beholden not to a "Jewish lobby" per se, but to said lobby in toxic combination with its force multiplier, the Evangelicals.

Israel is going to hell in a handjob, administered by the U.S. Senate.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. I read a lot about Hagel's performance, but very little about Congress and from people I otherwise trust. It's time someone said it.