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What if Chuck Hagel is just another plodding politico?

1 February 2013

It looks as if the anti-Chuck Hagel lobby, despite a successful day yesterday at his confirmation hearings, won’t prevent their nemesis from becoming US Secretary of Defense. Yesterday Hagel seemed unsure of himself and a bit hopeless at repelling wild suggestions that he is some sort of anti-Israel zealot and a friend of Iran.

But he didn’t mess up enough to derail his nomination. His fiercest critics still seem barking mad. But his admirers do now have added reason to be concerned. Hagel has been trumpeted as a great realist, refreshingly pragmatist, a safe pair of hands who would manage America’s changing role on the global stage with intelligence and caution. But the truth, if yesterday’s evidence is anything to go by, might be more dreary. What if he is neither an enemy of the Jewish state or a 21st century Eisenhower? What if he’s just another plodding politico?

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Ahead of yesterday’s hearings, the Washington Free Beacon ran a hysterical piece saying that ‘as a professor at Georgetown University, secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel taught a foreign policy course based primarily on anti-Israel materials and far left manifestos that castigate America’s role in the world.’

That’s twaddle. However, as the International Relations Professor Daniel Drezner points out, Hagel’s recommended student reading included such worryingly pedestrian titles as Tom Friedman’s The World Is Flat and George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years. ‘Now I’m not above assigning the occasional hack piece in a class to let my students chew up and spit out,’ says Drezner. ‘That’s actually a useful pedagogical exercise. Hagel, however, seems to think that the hack stuff is actually quite good.’

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  • commonsenseobserver

    I suppose that excuses not knowing anything about anything or anyone, including himself. But he can learn on the job anyway, so it doesn’t matter, right?

  • Curnonsky

    Instead of resorting to name-calling, Freddy, why not address the serious issues Hagel’s “barking mad” critics raise, such as borderline anti-Semitism, isolationism, and appeasement of Iran? Why not mention his shabby attempts yesterday to evade, stonewall and dissemble? Why not try to explain his lack of preparation, his apparent ignorance of the basic issues of American defense policy? Does he somehow rate extra credit for his willingness to abandon his deeply-unpleasant views in order to grasp the golden ring? Perhaps if you spent more than five minutes skimming HuffPost you might have something cogent to say on the subject – just a suggestion.

    • Ryan Wilson

      How can someone be borderline anti-Semitic? He’s either racist or he isn’t, there can’t be a middle ground. Your use of “borderline” suggests racism to the reader’s mind, whilst absolving you of the responsibility to prove any charges of racism. If you’re going to call a guy anti-Semitic, at least have the balls to state it outright.

      • Curnonsky

        His assertion that the “Jewish lobby” is intimidating senators and forcing them to do “dumb” things together with his unerringly hostile attitude towards Israel raise the question of anti-Semitism. His attempts to walk back his comments during his confirmation hearing satisfied no-one. So the issue remains.

        There, that wasn’t so hard to understand, was it?

  • Owen_Morgan

    I bow to your superior knowledge of “twaddle”, Mr Gray, since you seem to be incapable of writing anything else.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    What do you mean… “What if…”.

    This guy is a pure hack. He’s done nothing but keep his snout stuck in the Beltway trough for the past 40 years, and contributed basically nothing of consequence.

    Hagel is the very definition of empty suit, just like his compatriot John Kerry.

    • Augustus

      Exactly, he isn’t a first-rate candidate for secretary of defense, and he hates Israel and Israeli Jews, and Obama wants him. That’s all the left cares about.

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