Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

December 28, 2012

Against the Hagel nomination

It has been a bad time for the Republican Party, and wouldn't you know it? The worst addition to President Barack Obama's foreign-policy team could well be a Republican.

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is reportedly under serious consideration to replace Leon Panetta as secretary of defense. A self-styled foreign-policy realist, Hagel is out of the mainstream and terminally naive.

We all know the peril of a senator waking up every morning and seeing the next president of the United States in the bathroom mirror. Hagel woke up every morning and thought he saw the next Henry Kissinger.

It would be one thing if Hagel were merely what he so often seemed when he was a regular on the Sunday talk shows - a tiresome purveyor of conventional wisdom overly impressed with his own seriousness. That would make him no different than about 90 other senators. It's that his realism is so profoundly unrealistic and bizarrely skewed.

At the core of his foreign policy is disdain for Israel and an unquenchable desire to talk to terrorists. His realism is a pastiche of attitudes fashionable at Council on Foreign Relations meetings or the World Economic Forum in Davos, crystalized into an ideŽ fixe lacking all nuance or true thoughtfulness.

Hagel has caught grief for once referring to pro-Israel groups as the "Jewish lobby." Let's assume that, as he insists, he aped vaguely anti-Semitic language in an innocent slip of the tongue. Hey, it happens. But Hagel clearly has the contempt for Israel of a Euro-sophisticate.

For him, it is forever incumbent on Israel to "take steps to show its commitment to peace," as he put it in the midst of a Palestinian suicide-bombing campaign in 2002. The Jewish state is beset by Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria on its borders and Iran over its horizon, but somehow it is Israel's commitment to peace that is perpetually in doubt.

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