There have been several very good pieces written about the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of defense. Here’s a
My own early piece on the lunatic right’s opposition to Hagel, a Republican former Senator from Nebraska: http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2012/12/27/chuck-hagel-and-israel-the-wrong-question/
A brief but brilliant piece by Stephen Walt: http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/02/01/id_like_to_thank_the_senate_armed_services_committee
Yousef Munayyer on the number of appearances, or lack thereof, of various words: http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2013/02/the-hagel-hearing-snapshot.html
John Judis in The New Republic http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112306/chuck-hagel-confirmation-hearings-ted-cruz-john-mccain-grill-him
Matt Duss in The American Prospect https://prospect.org/article/senate-hearing-circus-session
And Jim Lobe at Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/02/its-all-about-israel/
That’s plenty of good stuff. I want to throw in one more point, which some of these folks touched on.
Let’s say there’s a country ruled by an unstable dictator which has a history of irrational actions, and aggressive behavior, including starting armed conflicts. Let’s say further that this country bordered an important US ally and had, in the past, invaded that ally and, in the much more recent past, directed and even fired its weapons at that ally. Let’s say further that this country has nuclear weapons.
There is not a single statement in the above paragraph that is true about Iran. The country in question is North Korea. Yet the SASC saw fit to mention North Korea a mere 11 times, while mentioning Iran 171 times, which was second only to Israel, which got 178 mentions. As Jim pointed out, Israel’s total exceeded the combined mentions of Iraq (30), Afghanistan (27), Russia (23), Palestine or Palestinian (22), Syria (18), North Korea (11), Pakistan (10), Egypt (9), China (5), NATO (5), Libya (2), Bahrain (2), Somalia (2), Al-Qaeda (2), and Mali, Jordan, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea (once each). Iran, which is an issue that has become almost entirely about Israel, was mentioned only twice less than those countries combined.
Look, the security of Israel, where I have many friends and some family, is very important to me. The future well-being of everyone in that area, from the river to the sea, is why I do what I do. And I am very interested in seeing the existing club of nuclear-armed countries shrink, not swell, and particularly that countries that cannot be counted to act responsibly (which includes North Korea and Iran, as well as Israel and most other currently nuke-enabled states, including the only one to have ever used one against an enemy and did so without the calamitous need that should be required to justify such use against civilians, and that’s the good old US of A) with such weapons not come into their possession. So, in a nutshell, I don’t want Iran getting nukes.
But this was a confirmation hearing for the Secretary of Defense of the UNITED STATES, NOT ISRAEL! Yet it was Israeli concerns that dominated the hearings, and even the word “dominate” understates the extent of it. Concern about US troops, who have an alarming suicide rate and who remain deployed in places where they risk their lives for dubious gains at best, who have issues ranging from rape of female soldiers to the need to continue to address LGBT soldiers’ issues with discrimination, was almost entirely absent. So was concern over policy regarding Mali, China, the “war on terror,” and, really almost any other foreign policy issue that didn’t bear directly on Israel’s interests.
While I still maintain that US policy formation is more complicated than some make it out to be, the iron-fisted hold AIPAC holds on Congress can no longer be denied by anyone who has enough sense to see that the sky is blue, not yellow. This was a shameful instance of the US Senate completely disregarding US interests and concerns in order to kowtow to a powerful lobby acting on behalf of a foreign country.
I’d like to say “Mr. Senator, have you no shame?” but I already know the answer. When it comes to AIPAC, with a scant few exceptions, members of Congress have none at all.