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Hagel Hearing: The War Party's Waterloo

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Among the many darkly comic moments of the hearing, a real howler was introduced at the beginning when Senator Jim Inhofe inquired as to know why Hagel hadn't bothered replying to a letter sent to him by the resident wingnuts on the committee, listing every organization he'd ever been affiliated with (save the USO) and demanding to know if any of them were recipients of funding from "foreign nations, foreign sovereign funds, [or] foreign corporations."

This is rich, considering the source. While we don't know exactly where the money for the wide array of anti-Hagel television spots and full page newspaper ads came from -- at least $1 million, according to Jim Lobe -- many suspect it was due to Sheldon Adelson's well known generosity when it comes to "pro-Israel" causes. Adelson -- who once said he regrets the uniform he wore when he served in the military was American and not Israeli, and whose wife is a dual Israeli-American citizen.

In their effort to "expose" Hagel, the Lobby and its shrinking band of loyal foot soldiers only succeeded in exposing their own weakness. And that is a big step forward for opponents of the War Party. Because it is the Israel lobby that is, today, the main force agitating for war with Iran, and US military intervention in Syria. The Israel lobby is leading the pushback in response to the prospect of big defense cutbacks -- because if the American Empire is now contracting, then Israel can no longer huddle under the eagle's wing. As we have seen in Hagel's case, it is these lobbyists on behalf of a foreign power who are most aggressive in "policing" the policy establishment in Washington, determined to block those who fail to toe the party line from getting anywhere near the levers of power.

In the past, they might have pulled it off -- as they did with Charles Freeman, whom Cruz tried without success to link to Hagel -- but not this time. The country has changed: the dark days of the Bush era, when smear campaigns aimed at anyone who challenged the Lobby's dominance usually ended in the target's political destruction, are over. 

The fury and energy of the anti-Hagel campaign only served to underscore its complete impotence and irrelevance: the country has moved on, even if Bill Kristol hasn't. If the Iraq war didn't succeed in totally discrediting Kristol and his fellow neocons, then this hearing -- with all the vindictiveness and sheer hate of these people on full display -- is their Waterloo.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (ISI, 2008), (more...)

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