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Hagel Defenders Battle Neocon OppositionDr. James M. Wall Salem-News.com
Is Hagel doomed to suffer the Charles Freeman treatment?
(CHICAGO) - The Washington Post wrote in a lead editorial, December 18, that President Obama should not nominate former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as his Defense Secretary because the President “has available other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream and to the president’s first-term policies.”
The Post editorial reads like a set of instructions to a pro-Israel media/political hit squad on how to block Hagel as Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary.
Is Hagel doomed to suffer the Charles Freeman treatment? Freeman, an experienced diplomat, had displayed the same independence from Zionist pressure that Chuck Hagel has shown.
When Freeman was initially chosen by the new Obama administration in 2009 to serve as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the neocons swung into action. Politicians and media voices painted Freeman, unfairly, as a danger to Israel.
The White House did little to rally support for Freeman, who soon agreed to withdraw his name, though not without some strong words about the machinations of the Israel Lobby. When Barack Obama hit his first term neocon stone wall, he capitulated.
In a new essay for Consortium News, Freeman recalls his earlier experience, noting that:
Today, a second term awaits Obama. Once again the White House has floated a name that was bound to arouse opposition from the neocons. What will Obama do this time? Thus far, the White House appears to have left Hagel to the mercy of his opponents. Unlike Freeman, however, Hagel has begun to hear sounds of support, with the widely read Andrew Sullivan leading a growing media/political support effort for Hagel. Is some of this support generated behind the scenes from the White House? Possibly.
Robert Wright writes in his Atlantic blog:
A week after Sullivan’s column on behalf of Hagel, and to the surprise of many, Thomas Friedman let it be known that a Hagel nomination would be in Israel’s best interest, always the bottom-line measure Friedman applies.
Friedman’s December 26 New York Times column sent word to Israel’s many friends in the U.S. that Friedman has their back. More importantly, he has Chuck Hagel’s back:
When someone of the stature of Tom Friedman rejects conventional mainstream wisdom, it is hard not to recall the famous Walter Cronkite-Lyndon Johnson moment when a media icon spoke truth to the powerful.
That moment took place on February 27, 1968, after CBS newsman Walter Cronkite’s first visit to Vietnam. Cronkite’s concluding editorial comment that night, in which he declared that the war was futile, is supposed to have led President Lyndon Johnson to declare, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America”.
Johnson’s exact words, or when he actually heard Cronkite (shown here), have been debated, but the historic fact remains that Johnson soon announced to the nation that he would not run for reelection.
Will Friedman’s column supporting Hagel have a Cronkite-like impact on President Obama’s decision on his next defense secretary? We will most likely have to wait for a post-second term memoir for an answer to that question.
There is also no indication that former President Bill Clinton has spoken to President Obama about Hagel. What is known is that Clinton is fully aware of Hagel’s service in the Vietnam War, in the U.S. Senate and now, after he left the Senate, as president of the Atlantic Council.
In the picture at top, Senator Hagel (left) is shown in good spirits after Hagel presented the former president with the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award on April 28, 2010.
A Washington Post news profile by Craig Whitlock appeared two days after the Post editorial. It provides compelling testimony from Hagel’s war experience:
Shards from a Viet Cong mine are still embedded in Chuck Hagel’s chest, 44 years after his infantry squad walked into a booby trap in the Vietnam jungle. Scar tissue marks the left side of his face from another mine explosion, barely a month after his first brush with death.
In his column for the Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan has strong words for what he calls the “agitators” who have attempted to smear Hagel as anti-Semetic:
Hagel has also drawn strong support from former Israeli New York consul general Alon Pinkas, who writes in Al Monitor, that the attacks on Hagel as “anti-Israel” are unfounded and do not serve the US-Israel relationship. He continues:
Robert Naiman, Policy Director for Just Foreign Policy has issued a challenge to his progressive U.S. Jewish colleagues–whom he calls ” the pro-Obama Jews”–to resist the main stream media-run campaign to block Hagel’s nomination. Writing for the Huffington Post, Naiman asks:
If President Obama does not want “to spend the next four years under the jackboot of the neocons”, he should listen to Tom Friedman, Andrew Sullivan, and those four former national security advisers, and nominate Chuck Hagel as his second-term Defense Secretary.
Please visit Jim's Website, Wall Writings
Journalism was Jim Wall’s undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. An ordained United Methodist clergy person; he and his wife, Mary Eleanor, are the parents of three sons, and the grandparents of four grandchildren. They live in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. While serving with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years, starting in 1972. Time magazine wrote about the new editor, who arrived at the Christian Century determined to turn the magazine into a hard-hitting news publication. The inspiration for Wall Writings comes from that mindset and from many other sources that have influenced Jim’s writings over the years, including politics, cinema, media, American culture, and the political struggles in the Middle East. Jim has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region. You can write to Jim Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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