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GOP Descends Into Its Winter of Discontent

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"And now the neocon hawks fear that, like Shakespeare's Richard III, there will be no place for them at all in Obama's 'weak, piping time of peace.' It is truly the winter of their discontent."

On Thursday of this week, the scheduled Hagel confirmation vote was cancelled after the Republican committee members demanded that Committee Chairman Carl Levin delay the final confirmation vote to give them more time to "study" Hagel's record...

Still not satisfied after their earlier committee attacks which focused almost exclusively on Israel (will you be faithful to our special relationship until death do you part?) and Iran (Israel's current arch enemy), the senators wanted another go at Hagel.

With their obsession with Israel and Iran, the Republican senators gave the public a reminder of the power of the Israel Lobby in Washington. They proved to be more dedicated to the state of Israel than to the country which they are supposed to serve.

Their questions expose them.

Brandon Friedman, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, has the numbers to show the exposure. He writes in Time's blog:

"In nearly eight hours of interrogation and testimony, Israel and its interests were referred to by the Senate Armed Services Committee a total of 106 times. On the other hand, there were a mere 24 references made to Afghanistan and the Americans fighting there -- most by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the committee.

"Nuclear-armed Pakistan -- where the U.S. frequently targets militants with drone-launched Hellfire missiles -- barely merited mention at all.

"It's difficult to interpret this message any other way: the Senate Armed Services Committee -- particularly its Republican membership -- is more concerned with the apparent American defense secretary's relationship with Israel than with the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the fate of U.S. troops engaged in both locations."

Expanding further to the Israel-focus of the hearing questions, Walter Pincus has his own question in the Washington Post:

"What has all this got to do with Hagel being Defense secretary? As others have pointed out, few senators raised the more serious issues that would immediately confront Hagel should he be confirmed, as he probably will be.

"Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, appearing on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, put it concisely: 'What disappointed me is that they talked a lot about past quotes, but what about what a secretary of Defense is confronting today? What about the war in Afghanistan? What about the war on terrorism? What about the budget sequestering and what an impact it's going to have on readiness? What about Middle East turmoil? What about cyber attacks?'

"I would add one that will come up the first time Hagel as secretary faces the military in a town-hall meeting: What does he expect to be done about military pay, benefits, retirement and health care?"

In his Richard III piece, Michael Hirsh warns the GOP hawks that they are making a mistake by continuing to attack Hagel with their failed, flawed GOP war strategy:

"Hagel's policy views are invariably well-thought-out, and he himself qualifies as quite a profile in courage when it comes to the anti-Iraq war side of history. Obama's famous dismissal of the Iraq invasion as a 'dumb' war, and Hagel's distinguished record of defiance toward his own party to oppose the war, amount to a living refutation of McCain's and Kristol's entire worldview.

"A decade ago, McCain and Kristol were leading hawks who claimed that Saddam Hussein had connections with al-Qaida and that weapons of mass destruction would certainly be found, and that George W. Bush could do it all and still preside over a strong economy.

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)

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