"While Kristol was agitating for war and saying things like, 'I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq' (March 5, 2003), Hagel was warning accurately that there was no evidence of Saddam's links to al-Qaida, that his possession of WMD were in doubt, and that America was in danger of strategic overreach and enraging the Arab world."
The war the Republican minority on the Armed Services Committee has waged against Hagel/Obama, is one they lost when they entered the hearing room. Hirsh further warns the senators that things "are likely to get much worse for the hawks in the second Obama term."
"First, despite Kristol's fulminations, Hagel is highly likely to be confirmed. Second, government sources tell me that one reason that John Brennan took the CIA job is that he wants to ease the agency out of the drone business.
"Hagel, based on his own worldview and his deep concerns about the moral use of U.S. power and the bad precedents that can be set by its misuse, is likely to also want to ratchet back or at least to exercise more caution about the drone attacks.
"A growing number of critics, including former President Carter (above, left), say the drone program has badly undermined America's moral position, and it supplies a dangerous precedent to other nations that are developing their own drone programs, in particular China and Russia, and could cite Washington's policy to justify, say, political assassinations."
Henry Siegman, former AIPAC staffer, writing in the Huffington Post, displays his battle-scarred wisdom with this response to Hagel progressive critics who complained that the future defense secretary had "backed down" on his previous stands.
He did not "back down"; he played the political game and refused to take the bait his former Republican senate colleagues threw at him.
Here is Siegman's take on how best to maneuver through the political swamp:
"Of the many controversial statements made by Senator Chuck Hagel over the years, none seemed to enrage Senator Lindsey Graham more than his remark that the Israel lobby intimidates U.S. Congressmen into advocating 'stupid' policies. He challenged Hagel to name one such senator and to identify one such stupid policy.
"The challenge created an unusual opportunity for Hagel, for there could be no better and conclusive evidence of the Israel Lobby's power of intimidation of U.S. senators on the subject of Israel than these hearings themselves, and most particularly Senator Graham's own behavior.
"Unfortunately, Hagel could not take advantage of that opportunity. Had he done so, his nomination by President Obama to head the Department of Defense would undoubtedly have been dead in the water, for his former Democratic colleagues are no less guilty of yielding to that intimidation than Hagel's former Republican colleagues."
The Armed Services and Intelligence committees hearings will soon be over. Meanwhile the GOP's "winter of discontent" has just begun.
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