Neoconservatives are having grand mal seizures and that’s a good thing. “President Obama on Monday nominated former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel as defense secretary,” reports the Washington Post.
Obama called Hagel “the leader that our troops deserve” and a “champion of our troops and our veterans and our military families.” He said Hagel, a former Army sergeant, would be the first person of enlisted rank and the first Vietnam War veteran to head the Defense Department.
“Maybe most importantly, Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction, Obama said.
CNN recounts that Hagel’s:
fierce opposition to the Iraq War went far toward creating the schism that now exists between him and the Republican establishment.
“The damage this war has done to our country will play out for years to come,” he wrote in his 2008 book, “America: Our Next Chapter.”
“While it is easy for nations to blunder into war, they never blunder into peace,” he added.
His opposition to the 2009 surge in Afghanistan put him at odds with the president who nominated him.
This is all good, although Hagel’s promise to “advance global freedom, decency and humanity’ in the effort to ‘build a better world for all mankind’” smacks of neocon Manifest Destiny. Defend US borders and no more.
As to the hackles Hagel has raised among Israel devotees. “Nothing Hagel has said about Israel,” ventures Richard Cohen at the WaPo, “is not said in the Israeli press on a daily basis. Trust me: By the Wall Street Journal’s standards, Israeli media would be deeply anti-Semitic.”
(Cohen points out that Chuck Hagel “earned his wariness of war the hard way — two Purple Hearts in Vietnam.” Cohen is wrong to frame war wariness as a privilege that needs to be earned.)
UPDATE (Jan. 8): Lindsey Graham, a member of the unholy trinity of neoconservative law makers—the “three amigos; the three blind mice; aka the ‘axis of error’”—“was on CNN’s ‘STATE OF THE UNION’ yesterday calling this an ‘in your face’ nomination and basically saying that this is going to be a very controversial pick for President Obama.”