Veterans Denounce Neoconservative ‘Swiftboating’ of Chuck Hagel

The “swiftboating” of Hagel is being mobilized by the likes of William Kristol, the “Weekly Standard” editor, who managed to avoid service in Vietnam but still believes that bloody tragedy was a great idea. Kristol and his ilk have been so wrong about every policy issue over the past four decades that their angry opposition to Hagel is a sterling endorsement of him.



By Joe Conason



If Chuck Hagel is nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of Defense, there will be at least three compelling arguments in his favor. He served with distinction in the military and would —like Secretary of State nominee John Kerry—bring a veteran’s perspective to his post. He has adopted and articulated a sane perspective on the grave foreign policy blunders whose consequences still haunt the nation, including the Iraq and Vietnam wars. And as we have learned ever since his nomination was first floated, he has made all the right (and right-wing) enemies.

Hagel is a former Republican senator from Nebraska, which means that his voting record was mostly conservative and that he has probably said many things that might offend liberal Democrats. (Already he has felt obliged to apologize for a nasty remark he once made in reaction to President Clinton’s nomination of James Hormel as the first openly gay U.S. ambassador.) He is a devout Catholic and an opponent of abortion rights, and he has received poor ratings in the past from the NAACP, the ACLU and other liberal organizations.

But as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, Hagel is coming under far heavier fire so far from the right—where he is being widely smeared as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic—than from the left. The neoconservatives and their allies on the religious right cannot forgive Hagel for turning against the Iraq war and the Bush administration—a stance that reflected his opposition to reckless warfare and his adoption of a realistic internationalism. They dislike Hagel as well for his refusal to endorse Israel’s expansion of West Bank settlements and other actions that undermine the Mideast peace process; for his reluctance to promote war with Iran; and for his critical eye on Pentagon misspending and waste.

In reality, those are all valid reasons to support him. It is hard to believe that the opinions of the same people who assured us that Iraq would be a free and easy “cakewalk” are today accorded any attention whatsoever, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later.

Yet it is equally important to emphasize that the charge of anti-Semitism against Hagel is groundless and shames those who have uttered this canard. Among those who have forthrightly denounced it are Jon Soltz, a Jewish army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and now heads Vote Vets and Jeffrey Goldberg, the “Atlantic” magazine blogger on Mideast affairs who once served in the Israel Defense Forces. (They are unlike many of Hagel’s critics, who might fairly be characterized as “chickenhawks.”)

DoD/D. Myles Cullen

In a letter to the 200,000-plus members of Vote Vets, many of whom are, like him, Democratic-leaning Iraq and Afghan war veterans, Soltz writes: Chuck Hagel, as a Vietnam Veteran, would put troops first. He has a record of challenging neocon dreams of preemptive use of force—and winning that debate.

He has a record of challenging wasteful Pentagon spending, taking on the military-industrial complex, to ensure our defense dollars are responsibly spent on equipment we actually need …

So please, take a stand against this swiftboating of a man who has only served America with honor.

Goldberg favors Hagel’s appointment precisely because he believes the Nebraskan, who now teaches at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, would push back against Israeli policies that endanger the future of the Jewish state: I think Israel is heading down a dangerous path, toward its own eventual dissolution, because it refuses to contemplate even unilateral half-measures that could lay the groundwork for a Palestinian state … I’ve spoken to Chuck Hagel in the past. He is not a hater of Israel. On the other hand, he, like Bob Gates, the former secretary of defense, might be able to look (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) in the eye and demand an explanation for the Israeli government’s actions on the West Bank.

Bill Kristol, Co-Founder and Editor of The Weekly Standard

The “swiftboating” of Hagel is being mobilized by the likes of William Kristol, the “Weekly Standard” editor, who managed to avoid service in Vietnam but still believes that bloody tragedy was a great idea. Kristol and his ilk have been so wrong about every policy issue over the past four decades that their angry opposition to Hagel is a sterling endorsement of him.
Still, there may be valid reasons to oppose his candidacy, based on his temperament, experience or record. Before confirmation he should be questioned closely on his commitment to fair treatment of LGBT personnel and on any substantive issues, such as reproductive rights, where administration policy may conflict with his personal beliefs. He may run into problems among his former Republican Senate colleagues, not all of whom admire him, but their opinions should carry little weight. Indeed, their opposition too should serve to strengthen the case for Hagel’s confirmation.

He has served his country with courage and principle over many years in public service—which is far more than can be said for most of his adversaries.

Joe Conason, columnist at Truthdig,  has written his popular political column for The New York Observer since 1992. He served as the Manhattan Weekly’s executive editor from 1992 to 1997. Since 1998, he has also written a column that is among the most widely read features on Conason is also a senior fellow at The Nation Institute.

His most recent book, Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martin’s Press, 2003), was a New York Times and bestseller. He is also the co-author (with Gene Lyons) of The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), which appeared on both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists. Conason co-produced a 2004 documentary film, The Hunting of the President, based on the book.

Prior to joining the Observer, Conason spent two years as editor-at-large for Conde Nast’s Details magazine. From 1978 to 1990, he worked for The Village Voice as a columnist, staff writer and national correspondent. Read more

Also see:

Thousands Of Vets And Military Families Sign Petition Rejecting ‘Neocon Smears’ Against Hagel

The petition piles on in defense of Hagel:

We, the undersigned, strongly reject the neocon smears being launched against Vietnam Veteran and former Senator Chuck Hagel. We will strongly back his nomination for Secretary of Defense, should you choose to nominate him. In fact, we urge you to not be deterred from nominating him, simply because of the right-wing noise machine.

The reason they’re swiftboating Senator Hagel is clear. Chuck Hagel, as a Vietnam Veteran, would put troops first. He has a record of challenging neocon dreams of preemptive use of force – and winning that debate. He has a record of challenging wasteful Pentagon spending, taking on the military-industrial complex, to ensure our defense dollars are responsibly spent on equipment we actually need. As Defense Secretary, he would do the same, and thoroughly embarrass and expose Kristol and his neocon buddies.

It would be unfortunate for our Troops and our nation if we allowed neocons to rob us of a potentially great Secretary of Defense. We urge you to not give in to them.

In a statement released this afternoon, says that more than 12,000 have signed the petition so far, including more than 8,000 veterans and military families. VoteVets says it and the petition’s signatories “are standing up for former Senator Chuck Hagel, and urging President Obama to stand up to right-wing swiftboating of him.”

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3 Comments for “Veterans Denounce Neoconservative ‘Swiftboating’ of Chuck Hagel”

  1. To me it is inconceivable that how any American can consider the likes of Kristol as an American at all.

    What is his claim to fame except to bring America down?

    The organisations such as AIPAC, and hundreds of other Jewish oriented groups are fifth columnists in every respect. Their allegiance is not to the country that they falsely and conveniently call home. These people are Zionists, not Americans and the sooner Mr and Mrs Average American realises this, the sooner you can get your country back, make decisions in the best interests of the US and gain the lost respect from the rest of the world after you submitted, year after year to the financial and political takeover of your country.

    From outside the US, people are interested in seeing the US regain its respected position in the world, not jumping to the dictates of the Neocons who have been allowed to thrive under the blackmail of the Abe Foxman anti-American organisation, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish front, who have been directly responsible for the deaths of perhaps 6,000 US soldiers and hundreds of thousands of other people, who have encouraged the cruel and inhumane use of sanctions, well, we all know it cannot revert to a US-controlled America until laws are made to stop the insidious takeover of your country, starting with the patriotic examination of EVERY member of the Congress.

    So that is why there is an inordinate amount of interest outside the US to see if what is a litmus test, that is Chuck Hagel’s appointment, will come to fruition. The airing of his nomination has uncovered even more vipers in the nest and we all trust that the opportunity arises when these people, foreigners in every sense, can be identified for what they are. Oh, bring back the days of Joe McCarthy. He would have a field day. Communists? A bunch of pansies compared to Zionists.

    They are not Americans

  2. @ Theo above in FB section


    Somehow couldn’t add this as a reply to your comment. VNN apparently is not a user-freindly environment. Adding this to your comment about Kristol…………

    There wouldn’t be a Neocon, Zionist or probably even fellow-travellers like the disgraceful Ms Clinton that would not have dual passports. It is regarded as a badge of allegiance (to Israel) and SHOULD be regarded as a sign of disloyalty to the US.

    Just check out the list of senior politicians and military personnel who attend the Tel Aviv Brainwashing sessions yearly. Yes, from Australia as well. 17 went just months ago.
    It reads like the who’s-who of US government. They falsely call them “Leadership Conferences”, but from then on it is they who are led by the nose by the Zionists

    It is all part of the plan, Theo, along with controlling banking, media, film. communications, yes, academia and on it goes. Politicians, a specialty, with Australia nearly as bad as the US.

    Paranoia? Hardly. It has been in train for forty years. Hence the concern over Hagel. He is an American and they can’t have that, not when they have a Congress full of Zionist sycophants and unpatriotic followers.
    As I have below, bring back Joe McCarthy and the Senate Anti-American hearings. The question is in 2013, would you even get a quorum of Senators who had not been corrupted already?

    Nice to see a comment from the ANU. Have a pleasant day. I am also in Canberra


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