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."
"Considerably closer to the mainstream... is not a good thing if the mainstream (including the Washington Post) led us to endless, pointless, fruitless occupations and wars that have deeply wounded American credibility and credit, as well as costing up to a hundred thousand innocent lives? We need less mainstream thought in Washington, not more."
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:
"The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth."
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:
"Last night (December 25), the Washington Post published a letter in support of Hagel signed by four former national security advisers -- James L. Jones, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Frank Carlucci. They write:
"'Mr. Hagel is a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war. He is a rare example of a public servant willing to rise above partisan politics to advance the interests of the United States and its friends and allies.'
"Note the bipartisan cast. These people held the top White House national security post in, respectively, the Obama, George H.W. Bush, Carter, and Reagan administrations. And they're not alone. Hagel has also been endorsed by a slew of former U.S. ambassadors, from both Democratic and Republican administrations, including no fewer than five who have served as ambassador to Israel."
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:
"I am a Hagel supporter. I think he would make a fine secretary of defense -- precisely because some of his views are not 'mainstream.' I find the opposition to him falling into two baskets: the disgusting and the philosophical. It is vital to look at both to appreciate why Hagel would be a good fit for Defense at this time.