Hagel and His Own Ideas

Chuck Hagel, appointed by President Obama for the post of Secretary of Defense, has his own ideas about the Middle East. Naturally, this does not sit well with Israel. Hebrew television channels have broadcast the Jewish lobby’s propaganda, in which Hagel’s ideas are denounced (such propaganda is being broadcast on American channels as well), and have aired views that will be represented in Congress prior to the final appointment of the Republican senator.

The Jewish press has collected a handful of declarations about the Middle East made by Hagel in recent years. On one occasion, he reminded observers that he was a U.S. senator, not an Israeli one. American senators have often been accused of defending Israeli interests before those of their own country, but Hagel has accused the “Jewish lobby” of intimidating the Senate.

Hagel defends a change of policy towards Iran, the enemy of the Jewish state. He also advocates initiating a political dialogue with Hamas. This is anathema to Israel because, among other reasons, such a policy draws attention to the occupation of Palestine territories and to their constant and systematic colonial expansion — acts that violate international law.

Another of Hagel’s ideas concerns the neoconservative obsession with exporting democracy to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006, he said, “You cannot in my opinion just impose a democratic form of government on a country with no history and no culture and no tradition of democracy.” Unfortunately, the previous two administrations, of George W. Bush and Obama respectively, have made a point of bringing democracy to the Middle East whatever the cost, and the cost has been — and continues to be — high in some countries.

Hagel also petitioned Obama to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, as he considered the presence of U.S. forces in the country to be counterproductive.

The appointment of Hagel is, according to Yedioth Ahronot, “Obama’s revenge” on Prime Minister Netanyahu, but it is possible that Hagel will change his opinions soon. In fact, within the last 48 hours he has begun to renounce his principles and make conciliatory gestures toward Israel.

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