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Hagel: The Neocons’ Last Stand?

The neocons — stung by their loss of Washington influence – are trying to reestablish their clout by disqualifying former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the new Defense Secretary. But their haste in charging off after Hagel’s scalp may lead the neocons into a dangerous last stand, writes Robert Parry.


by Robert Parry

Exclusive :Consortium News


The year 2012 has been a rough one for Washington’s arrogant neocons. Their political influence has waned since they threw in their lot with presidential loser Mitt Romney and then witnessed the ignominious resignation of their ally David Petraeus as CIA chief. But they are now mounting a fierce counterattack to reestablish their relevance by demonizing former Sen. Chuck Hagel.

Hagel has become the neocons’ new target of opportunity after emerging as a likely choice to become Defense Secretary. He is a bête noire to the neocons because he is viewed as disturbingly independent of Israel’s preferences for what U.S. foreign and military policy must be.

The former Republican senator from Nebraska also once made reference to Washington’s powerful “Jewish Lobby” when he apparently should have said “Israel Lobby,” though it’s often been a firing offense in Washington to publicly acknowledge the existence of any lobby favoring Israel.

Hagel has indicated, too, a preference for real negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program rather than simply a steady escalation of sanctions and hostilities leading inexorably to war, as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many neocons seem to prefer.

Another one of Hagel’s alleged sins is that he believes the vast Pentagon budget “needs to be pared down.” The Washington Post editorial page, which has long been the neocons’ media flagship in the nation’s capital, denounced that position as irresponsible and out of the mainstream.

“Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term – and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him,” the Post sniffed in a Dec. 19 editorial.

But it is clear that Hagel’s primary disqualification is that he has, at times, refused to sign on to hawkish neocon positions circulated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, such as piling on more anti-Iran sanctions and demanding that Europe designate Hezbollah, Israel’s chief foe in Lebanon, as a terrorist organization.

Thus, the neocons’ campaign to intimidate Obama into pulling back Hagel’s expected nomination has become a test of whether the neocons can still exert enough muscle to block disfavored American citizens from holding public office. Such hardball tactics succeeded during Obama’s first term.

The War on Chas Freeman

Former Amb. Chas W Freeman

Indeed, the neocons’ current offensive against Hagel is reminiscent of their successful drive in 2009 to blackball former U.S. Ambassador Chas W. Freeman from getting a job as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was decried as a “realist” who was too friendly with Arab countries.

“Realist ideology pays no attention to moral differences between states,” Jon Chait wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post entitled “Obama’s Intelligence Blunder.” Chait, a senior editor at the neocon New Republic, added: “As far as realists are concerned, there’s no way to think about the way governments act except as the pursuit of self-interest.”

But Freeman’s real crime was again a lack of sufficient ardor toward Israel and his recognition that an Israel Lobby actually exists in Washington.

“Realists tend not to abide the American alliance with Israel, which rests on shared values with a fellow imperfect democracy rather than on a cold analysis of America’s interests,” Chait wrote. “Taken to extremes, realism’s blindness to morality can lead it wildly astray. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, both staunch realists, wrote ‘The Israel Lobby,’ a hyperbolic attack on Zionist political influence. …

“Freeman praised ‘The Israel Lobby’ while indulging in its characteristic paranoia. ‘No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article,’ he told a Saudi news service in 2006, ‘given the political penalties that the lobby imposes on those who criticize it.’”

The right-wing Washington Times published its own smear job against Freeman, written by former Reagan administration Pentagon official Frank Gaffney, another neocon.

“The announcement … that the Obama administration would turn over the job of preparing National Intelligence Estimates to a man whom Saudi Arabia, China, Iran and Hamas surely consider an agent of influence calls to mind an old axiom about Charles ‘Chas’ Freeman’s new line of work — ‘Garbage in, garbage out,’” Gaffney wrote.

Faced with this furious reaction to the appointment of Freeman, the novice President Barack Obama quickly retreated. Freeman was forced to step down, and the neocons celebrated their reassertion of political clout even in Obama’s Washington. They also could still count as key allies much of Bush’s old national security team retained by Obama, from Gen. David Petraeus to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In a later book, America’s Misadventures in the Middle East, Freeman noted that the day after he withdrew his acceptance of the job, the Washington Post published “an unsigned editorial calling me a ‘crackpot’ for imagining that there was an Israel Lobby and that it had opposed me.”

Funhouse Mirrors

It is in such a world of funhouse mirrors – where reality is endlessly distorted – that the neocons have amassed their extraordinary influence in Washington. They have long demonstrated a capacity to turn anything into anything, whether manufacturing a false reality about Iraq’s WMD or delegitimizing loyal American public servants who somehow represent a threat to their power.

However, the neocons have gradually lost ground under President Obama, especially when compared to how they ruled the roost under President George W. Bush. In 2011, Gates finally was replaced at the Pentagon and Petraeus was moved from his high-profile role as a four-star military commander to the less public position of CIA director.

In 2012, with Obama suffering low approval ratings and congressional Republicans hounding him on the economy, the neocons saw their chance to reclaim control of U.S. foreign policy by helping Mitt Romney win the presidency. Up to Election Night, some were surely fantasizing about their new titles at the NSC or State or Defense or the CIA.

The neocons were as stunned as Karl Rove and other GOP operatives when their predictions of a Romney landslide evaporated as the actual votes of the American people were counted. Instead of cashing in their chits with President Romney, the neocons were facing four more years on the outside-looking-in under President Obama.

Then, just days after Obama’s reelection, a second shoe dropped. One of the neocons’ last senior allies in the U.S. government, CIA Director Petraeus, was forced to resign as a result of a humiliating sex scandal.

The stunned neocons suddenly looked out over a Washington where they no longer held key government positions and few possessed top-secret security clearances. They still held lucrative jobs at think tanks and had prominent space on op-ed pages but their direct control of U.S. foreign policy was ending.

Thus, the significance of the neocon counteroffensive against Chuck Hagel, a generally popular Republican who served with distinction as a soldier during the Vietnam War. To demonstrate their continued clout in Washington, the neocons must show they can still claim some important scalps and can still frighten President Obama into retreat.

But the risk the neocons run is that their bold march in pursuit of Sen. Hagel’s scalp may turn out instead to be something of the Neocons’ Last Stand.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and


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Posted by on December 21, 2012, With 0 Reads, Filed under Civil Liberties, Corruption, Foreign Lobbies, Foreign Policy, Government, Legislation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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5 Responses to "Hagel: The Neocons’ Last Stand?"

  1. Reality Check  December 22, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Their direct control of U.S. foreign policy was ending? A wake-up call for Americans…

    *IRAN SANCTIONS ACT of 1996 Sponsor: Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (Jewish)
    *S.Res. 185, Sponsor: Sen. Ben Cardin (Jewish) states that if the Palestinian Authority goes ahead with its plan to seek unilateral recognition as a state, the US would suspend its financial aid.
    *H.Res. 268, Sponsor: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Jewish) The resolution called upon the administration to announce that it would “veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes before the United Nations Security Council.
    *H.Res. 4133, Sponsor: Eric Cantor (Jewish) United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012
    *H.RES.568, Sponsor: Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (Jewish) preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
    *H.R. 2194, Sponsor: Howard Berman (Jewish) Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010
    *H.R. 1905, Sponsor: Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (Jewish) Howard Berman (J e w) will place virtually all of Iran’s energy, financial, and transportation sectors under U.S. sanction. Companies conducting business with Iran in these sectors face losing access to U.S. markets; impose sanctions designed to prevent Iran from repatriating any proceeds from its oil sales, thus depriving Iran of 80 percent of its hard currency earnings and half of the funds to support its national budget; impose tough new sanctions on the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); target Iran’s use of barter transactions to bypass sanctions, the provision of insurance to Iran’s energy sector, and the provision of specialized financial messaging services to the Central Bank of Iran.
    *Steve Simon (Jewish) National Security Council Middle East Desk
    *Dan Shapiro (Jewish) former Head of Middle East Desk at the National Security Council now ambassador to Israel
    *Robert Einhorn (Jewish) Special Advisor for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control
    *Dennis Ross (Jewish) Special Advisor for the Gulf (Iran) and Southwest Asia to the Secretary of State
    *Colin Kahl(Jewish) Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East (Current National Security Advisor)
    *James N. Miller(Jewish) Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
    *Lee Feinstein (Jewish) Foreign Policy Advisor
    *Mara Rudman (Jewish) Foreign Policy Advisor
    *Eric Lynn (Jewish) Middle East Policy Advisor
    *William Burns (Jewish) Current Deputy Secretary of State
    *James B. Steinberg (Jewish) Former Deputy Secretary of State
    *Stuart Levey (Jewish) Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
    *David Cohen (Jewish) Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

    *The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs headed by Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman (Jewish),deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt,Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Regional policy issues that NEA handles include Iraq, Middle East peace, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and political and economic reform.

    *Hannah Rosenthal (Jewish) State Dept Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism
    *Cass Sunstein (Jewish) Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration
    *Wendy Sherman (Jewish) Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
    *Victoria Nuland (Jewish) (career Foreign Service officer) and spokesperson for the United States Department of State. (and married to Jewish neocon Robert Kagan co-founder of PNAC the ideological manifesto for the Iraq war)
    *Diane Feinstein (Jewish) Chairwoman Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
    *Michael Ratney (Jewish) U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem
    *Daniel Rubinstein (Jewish), former Consul General Jerusalem
    *Michael Chertoff (Jewish) former Homeland Security chief
    *Daniel Benjamin (Jewish) head of the State Department’s Bureau of Counter-Terrorism
    *Ronald Klain (Jewish) Former Biden Chief of Staff
    *Rahm Emanuel (Jewish) former Obama chief of staff and former Israeli Defense Force soldier
    *Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Jewish) Democratic National Committee Chairman
    *David Axelrod (Jewish) ran the Obama re-election campaign

    (This is only a very partial list. Do the arithmetic yourself)

    • John  December 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks Reality Check for the listing. Keep up the very good work.

  2. rhys  December 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    “Hagel-The Neocons last stand”.

    A better title would have been….”Hagel- America’s last stand”.

    Obama has already bowed down in relation to Freeman, appointed Emanuel, an IDF killer in the White House, now identified with all the graft and corruption that Zionism means. Enjoy it Mr. Mayor, it won’t last long.
    This then is a judgement by the American people as to whether they have an American President or an Israeli stooge.

    Your credibility is on trhe line, Mr. President, so far in name only. Let’s see an example of leadership.

    • DaveE  December 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      You got that right, pal. Merry Christmas.

  3. rexw  December 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Dig you toes in, America. Don’t move a bloody inch.

    Hagel is the man you need as you also needed Chas Freeman. Find a place for hin as well. Both decent Americans, and capable. You hear that. AMERICANS, not Zionist stooges.

    Come on you Zionusts, fellow travellers, sycophants, spies, fifth columnists, Neocons and all. Trot out your proud record of success in helping the country you are taking for granted, day in and day out. I am not referring to the hateful advice you gave the feckless previous President, Bush. That advice told lies, was responsible for perhaps 1,500,00 deaths and then 4,000 good American boys who did not deserve to die at your hands. Now 2,000 in Afghanistan, not counting the death by ‘droning’

    Sure, Ameirca has been asleep for forty years while the cancer that is now embedded in your gut got a firm grip on the media, the financial instotutions with the help of Rothdchilds, the Rupert Murdochs and his ilk, the current weak leaders of Canada, Australia, England, Europe and the arrogant hateful leaders of that relatively small middle east country that thinks it controls you, Israel. The hell it does.

    Stand up straight. make your people proud of you and start to win your country back from the evil doers that don’t dive a damn about you now, or in the future.
    Show me the war memorial that shows neocons lost in battle fighting for the US. Show me the record of Rahm Emanuel for the well-being of America and I’ll show you his record fighting against innocents in Palestine. What a brave fellow he must have been. Netanyahu’s spy in the White House.

    Now Mayor of Chicage thanks to the Zionist lobby that Bret Sterphens of the Wall Street Journal has never heard of. Zionist lobby? Must be some other country, not here. That ius how it has become. More bare-faced lies. Where does he spend his time? Locked away in Murdoch’s penthouse where the air is pure, totally isolated from the real world. How about just another stooge.

    This is your chance, America. It’s your home in every possible sense. Not theirs.

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