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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 16 January 2013
That the neocons hate him is the best sign yet that Chuck Hagel may be the right person for the job.

The Neocons vs. Chuck Hagel

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If the neocons in the GOP who brought us the Iraqi war and conjured up “weapons of mass destruction” to justify it are against Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, Hagel gets bonus points in my book.

They’re the hawkish, bellicose bunch in the Republican Party — William Kristol, Richard Perle, and Ellott Abrams — who shaped DIck Cheney’s and Don Rumsfeld’s disastrous foreign policy.

These are also the people who have supported Israel’s rightward lurch in recent years. They don’t want a two-state solution. They eschew any possibility of talks with Hamas or Iran. They favor building more settlements in the West Bank. 

Yes, it was dumb for Hagel to use the term “Jewish lobby” instead of “Israel lobby,” but that alone shouldn’t disqualify him. Everyone in official Washington knows how much power is wielded in that city by the Sheldon Adelsons of American politics who think Israel can do no wrong.

The problem is Washington pays too little attention to the large number of Americans — Jewish and non-Jewish — who think Israel is doing a lot that’s wrong, and worry that the path it’s on threatens its long-term survival. 

The real question is what Hagel believes about the appropriate use of American power.

That the neocons hate him is the best sign yet that Chuck Hagel may be the right person for the job.

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.



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ABOUT Robert Reich

 

ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org. Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

The truth is always a problem

The truth is always a problem when the masses are fed propaganda 24 hours a day. History repeats itself, the abused become the abusers until people become enlightened enough to say Enough! We are America. We must look out for OUR INTERESTS. No foreign country should have more clout than our own...despite being filthy rich and owning media outlets.

Reich often makes sense but

Reich often makes sense but he has gone bonkers here - in not one way but four.

First, his prime argument for Hagel is ad hominem: Hagel's enemies are bad, therefore Hagel is the best man for the job. Similar reasoning would yield: Obama's rabid enemies in Congress were bad, therefore Obama (not H Clinton or D Kucinich or J Stein or even R Reich) was obviously best guy for the job.

Second, he is obsessed that to Israel - alone among the world's friendly nations -it's terribly important for the USA to give allegedly helpful advice. In Reich’s universe only Israel (size and population about that of New Jersey) makes serious policy mistakes.

Third, it doesn't enter Reich's head that the neocons could possibly (if only by accident) be correct about anything. As it happens, on the issue not of Saddam's Iraq decades ago but of a Palestine state now, even the neocons have opened their eyes to what Israelis have painfully learned from experience of the last decade: a two-state solution would in fact be acceptable and even nice if the Palestinian leadership wanted it, but that leadership really does not. Witness Gaza - a total Israeli military and settlement pullout - for which the reward has been development by Hamas of a welfare-warfare state, underwritten by Western and UN 'refugee' aid. Witness West Bank - where in Area A over 90% of all the West Bank Palestinians have for many years been living with no Israeli military or civilian presence, but under Palestine Authority (PA) control. What is there now? A corrupt administration, also dependent on massive Western and Israeli aid, focused daily not on development but on anti-Jewish incitement.

Fourth - and here is where Reich really gets worked up - consider his four complaints about the neocons.

Complaint 1. Neocons support "Israel’s rightward lurch in recent years." Well, what does this 'rightward lurch' actually consist of? Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005? Netanyahu's acceptance in 2009 of a two-state solution? Or what?

Complaint 2. Neocons 'don’t want a two-state solution'. Well, what’s the problem? By all evidence neither does the Palestinian leadership want such a solution except temporarily: the PA wants an interim two-state arrangement so that Palestine can more effectively fight Israel to extinction; Hamas demands an immediate one-state arrangement - Israel terminated.

Complaint 3. Neocons 'eschew any possibility of talks with Hamas or Iran.' Well, exactly what would such talks be about? Both Islamist regimes for years have as supreme doctrine been committed to Israel's destruction or anyhow disappearance. Reich should more productively first call for talks between the USA and Al Qaeda.

Complaint 4. Neocons ' favor building more settlements in the West Bank.' Well, if such (Jewish) settlements are really a problem, they simply give the Palestine Authority but an additional incentive to do what Netanyahu has been ready to do: negotiate a two-state solution to permanently settle the Arab-Israel conflict and remove most of the settlements. (Meanwhile for decades Israel has contained dozens of Arab settlements; no one has deemed them a problem.)

Am too busy in Sydney's heat

Am too busy in Sydney's heat wave to read all the blogs. I read the article, which I think is terrific. Bill Kristol was here years ago, when I was working in the only Education Policy Unit of a national think tank in Australia, and I was not impressed. I admired the historical writing of his mother, Gertrude Himmelfarb, but had many reservations about his father's stances on current affairs. The neocons mostly get it wrong, methinks. From what we've been hearing about Hagel on Australia's public tv station, SBS (our PBS), and our national broadcaster, the ABC, and from what I've read thus far, he has a lot going for him. I happen to be NY Jewish by birth and upbringing. I'm a Jewish Catholic. In Australia there are relatively few JCs in public life. Many Catholics whom I know and love know next to nothing about Jewish mores unless they've watched programs like Seinfeld and The Nanny . . .

I couldn't agree more. The

I couldn't agree more. The minute George W. Bush chose his first cabinet I said we were going to have war with Iraq. How did I know? Because the Project for the New American Century, signed by 25 well-known neocons (Cheney, Perle, Kristol, Rumsfeld and others) outlined just such a scenario, and even emphasized that war would have little or nothing to do with Saddam Hussein. That document which came to be knows as PNAC (or Panic) was drafted in 1996 and released just before GWBs inauguration.

Chuck Hagel knew what was going on and did his best to steer us in a better direction. He failed, and look what we got. But now is the perfect time to appoint someone who is not itching for perpetual war. I don't care whether he's a Republican or a Democrat. It's time to take on the neocons who never actually get involved--they just plan wars on paper for other people to fight.

Neocons are not hawkish.

Neocons are not hawkish. They are chick-hawkish. Had they served in the war theater like Hagel and Kerry, they would have understood the meaning of war and what happens to humans to fight for the corporate profit and market/resource control. A true hawk would not dive willy-nilly for a few more dollars into wars. A true hawk will kill only if its own survival depends on it. Had we made laws to require those demanding wars stand in the front lines and lead the troops in the battle themselves like the ancient times, we may have tested the true brave and hawks from chicken hawks...

The United States is a friend

The United States is a friend of Israel, yes...but a good friend will tell you when you're doing something that might not be a good idea, rather than just agree with you on everything.

I agree that true friends

I agree that true friends ought to tell each other the truth; the problem is, in the instance of Israel - or Asian countries in general - that the US does not understand their cultures. Item: the CIA's interference in Iran, undermining Mossadegh, a popularly elected prime minister, (1952) gave that country Ayatollah Khumeini -! Foster Dulles' "domino theory" gave us the Vietnam war -! Likewise, neither Obama nor the State Department know the early modern history of the area in which Israel exists - precariously - because the Arabs in the area are mostly immigrants from surrounding areas, like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, yet want to claim the land as theirs.
Arafat - who claimed having been born in Jerusalem, was actually born in Cairo, for an example. Why did he feel he had to lie about his origin? Because even he realized it is difficult to defend a claim on a country having actually been born and raised elsewhere. What is my point? "Palestine" was a vast area under the sovereignty of the Ottoman empire; as that empire broke up after WWI, the Brits and French divided the area between them into 'zones of interest.' The administration of these territories became a considerable financial burden for the Brits who were broke from WWI and Churchill, ILLEGALLY, MIND YOU, gave Jordan - then Transjordania - to the Hashemite Abdullah as his own. ILLEGALLY, because Transjordania was a British MANDATE, NOT A POSSESSION, and therefore, not Churchill's to "give." My point is further that this was doubly underhanded, because at the time (1922-23) The Jews had a promise from England (the Balfour Declaration, 1917) to have their own homeland in the ancient "Erez Israel," the biblical land of Israel (Jacob's land). The Arabs living West of the Jordan under the Ottomans were very few Nomads (according to Turkish census data) and the land East of the Jordan was Palestine in a narrower sense. So, the idea that the Jews "stole" the land from the Palestinians - the Arabs of various provenance living west of the River Jordan - was a tale spun by and for the political benefit of the then Mufti of Jerusalem, a frequent guest of Hitler. He boasted that he was going to help Hitler exterminate the Jews. He is one of the major reasons - if not THE reason - for the animosity between Arabs and Jews until this day. I am reasonably sure that neither Obama nor the State Department officials know this History. I am making this statement having watched their behavior in the United Nations. The United Nations CHANGED THE DEFINITION OF 'REFUGEE' ad hoc from the traditional one as 'a person forced from her ancestral home' to 'anyone who had left Israel during the fighting in 1948/49 who had been living there TWO YEARS before 1948, in order to help the Arabs gain an ethnic majority West of the River Jordan through the 'right of return' demand.
How many people know this history before they dare give advice to Israel?
If their advice turns out to be bad advice . . that's too bad . . they don't live there . . but the Israelis do.
Take this asenine plea for a "proportionate" response to bombs lobbed from Gaza and the South of Lebanon into Israel, killing her people.
I am asking anyone who cares to think about that seriously: if your child, that a moment ago was alive, bursting with energy and cheer, the apple of your eye, NOW LIES AT YOUR FEET, A LUMP OF FLESH IN A POOL OF BLOOD, JUST WHAT WOULD BE A 'PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE'?

I agree that true friends

I agree that true friends ought to tell each other the truth; the problem is, in the instance of Israel - or Asian countries in general - that the US does not understand squat. Item: the CIA's interference in Iran, undermining Mossadegh, a popularly elected prime minister, (1952) gave that country Ayatollah Khumeini - thank you CIA! Foster Dulles' "domino theory" gave us the Vietnam war - thanks for NOTHING, Mr. Dulles; likewise, neither Obama nor the State Department know the early modern history of the area in which Israel exists - precariously - because the Arabs in the area are mostly immigrants from surrounding areas, like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan.
Arafat - who claimed having been born in Jerusalem, was actually born in Cairo. What is my point? "Palestine" was a vast area under the soverainty of the Ottoman empire; as that empire broke up after WWI, the Brits and French divided the area between them into 'zones of interest.' The administration of these territories became a considerable financial burden for the Brits and Churchill, ILLEGALLY, MIND YOU, gave Jordan - then Transjordania - to the Hashemite Abdullah as his own. ILLEGALLY, because Transjordania was a British MANDATE, NOT A POSSESSION, and therefore, not Churchill's to "give." My point is further that this was doubly underhanded, because at the time (1922-23) The Jews had a promise from England (the Balfour Declaration, 1917) to have their own homeland in the ancient "Erez Israel," the biblical land of Israel (Jacob). The fate of the Arabs living West of the Jordan (under the Ottomans very few Nomads (according to Turkish census data) and the land East of the Jordan was Palestine in a narrower sense. So, the idea that the Jews "stole" the land from the Palestinians - the Arabs of various provenance living west of the River Jordan - was a tale spun by and for the political benefit of the then Mufti of Jerusalem, a frequent guest of Hitler. He boasted that he was going to help Hitler exterminate the Jews. He is one of the major reasons - if not THE reason - for the animosity between Arabs and Jews until this day. I am reasonable sure that neither Obama nor the top State Department officials know this History. I am making this statement having watched their behavior in the United Nations. The United Nations CHANGED THE DEFINITION OF 'REFUGEE' from the traditional one as 'a person forced from her ancestral home' to 'anyone who was living outside Israel (after the founding of the State of Israel) who had been living there TWO YEARS before 1948, in order to help the Arabs gain an ethnic majority West of the River Jordan through the 'right of return' demand.
How many people know this history? before they dare give advice to Israel.
Also, there is this asenine plea for a "proportionate" response to bombs lobbed from Gaza and the South of Lebanon into Israel, killing her people.
I am asking anyone who cares to think about that: if your child, that a moment ago was alive, bursting with energy and cheer, the apple of your eye, NOW LIES AT YOUR FEET, A LUMP OF FLESH IN A POOL OF BLOOD, JUST WHAT WOULD BE A 'PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE'?

You've drunk the kool aid.

You've drunk the kool aid. Israel was an empty land....

"if your child, that a moment

"if your child, that a moment ago was alive, bursting with energy and cheer, the apple of your eye, NOW LIES AT YOUR FEET, A LUMP OF FLESH IN A POOL OF BLOOD, JUST WHAT WOULD BE A 'PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE'?"

So just how should a Palestinian response be when it is a Palestinian child reduced to a lump a flesh? Less? No different? More? than an Israeli response to the same?
Or is it that "god" chooses the Israeli children to be ten times more human than Palestinian children so it's o-k for the Israelis to kill children on a ten to one ratio?

"if your child, that a moment

"if your child, that a moment ago was alive, bursting with energy and cheer, the apple of your eye, NOW LIES AT YOUR FEET, A LUMP OF FLESH IN A POOL OF BLOOD, JUST WHAT WOULD BE A 'PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE'?"

So just how should a Palestinian response be when it is a Palestinian child reduced to a lump a flesh? Less? No different? More? than an Israeli response to the same?
Or is it that "god" chooses the Israeli children to be ten times more human than Palestinian children so it's o-k for the Israelis to kill children on a ten to one ratio?

Imagine a defense secretary

Imagine a defense secretary basing life and death decisions on the black and white of the situation rather than on the various shades of lies and opinions of cackling hens.

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