By Will Banyan (Copyright © 25 February 2013 & 01 March 2013)
Author’s note: On 24 November 2014, Chuck Hagel resigned as Secretary of Defense. The circumstances of his retreat from public office were contentious; Obama’s claims that Hagel had determined that it was “appropriate time for him to complete his service” was greeted with derision by most Beltway observers. Most reporting suggested that Hagel’s apparent decision was driven by his failure to penetrate Obama’s inner circle, his frustration with being micro-managed by Obama and his aides, and for finding himself repeatedly “out of step” with the White House on many issues. The irony of this situation is that by the end of his brief tenure, Hagel had earned the affection of those whom had opposed his confirmation (as detailed below), particularly Israel and pro-Israel forces in the US. Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yalon praised the outgoing Secretary as a “true friend of Israel” and Abraham Foxman, National Director of the US-based Anti-Defamation League likewise lauded Hagel’s “energetic stewardship of America’s commitment to Israel’s security.” It would seem that Hagel had demonstrated fealty to the wrong master…
President Obama’s decision to replace his outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with former Senator Charles (Chuck) Hagel has rapidly proved to be one of his most difficult and controversial Cabinet-level appointments. At least since Obama’s attempt to nominate US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, as the next Secretary of State ended in tears – and the elevation of Senator John Kerry, the Skull and Bonesman Democrat presidential candidate of 2004, into that feted position. Senator Hagel’s primary sin, in the eyes of his Republican interrogators in the Senate, and his detractors amongst the neo-conservative punditocracy, was that this prospective US Defense Secretary was insufficiently pro-Israel.
Ahead of his confirmation hearings in January this year, for example, Hagel was repeatedly accused by neo-con gadfly, William Kristol, writing in the Weekly Standard, of having “anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona fides” (Dec 24, 2012); “dangerous views on Iran” and an “unpleasant distaste for Israel and Jews” (Jan. 4, 2013). Kristol also attacked Hagel for making the apparently “vulgar and disgusting charge” that the US invasion of Iraq was a “war for oil” (Jan. 5, 2013). Heaven forbid! In the same august publication (Jan. 7, 2013), former Bush Administration official Elliott Abrams, a presidentially pardoned felon, casually implied that Hagel was anti-Semitic because of his allegedly “hostile” attitude towards the Jewish community of Nebraska in 1989 over the closing of a USO facility in Israel.