National Defense

Chuck Hagel Runs from His Own Record

Hagel retreats as his past comes back to haunt him.


Some observers are mystified by Chuck Hagel's pathetic showing at his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, but there should be no mystery about it. He performed as he did for one simple reason: He wants to be the next secretary of defense, and he (along with the White House) must have calculated that standing up for his past positions would have harmed his chances.

Only by establishment standards did the old Hagel look like a radical critic of U.S. foreign policy. For example, he once criticized the 2007 military surge in Iraq, but he voted to authorize President George W. Bush to send troops there.

He previously expressed concern about the drive to war with Iran over its alleged nuclear-weapons program. But he supported multilateral economic sanctions against the Iranian people, although he criticized unilateral sanctions and made favorable statements about negotiating with the Islamic republic.

Hagel also criticized Israel and what he called "the Jewish lobby" in the United States. Among his statements on this subject, he said the Israelis "keep Palestinians caged up like animals," complained that the lobby "intimidated" members of Congress, and accused his congressional colleagues of doing "dumb" things as a result. Yet in the Senate he voted for every aid bill for Israel.

But during his Senate hearing, Hagel retracted or considerably watered down every one of these statements. To many questions, he responded along these lines: "I've said many, many things over many years.… If I — if I had a chance to go back and edit it, I would. I regret that I used those words."

The message that came out of the hearing is unfortunate: Deviation from the narrow range of opinion authorized by the ruling elite is forbidden. If you want respect from that elite, you'd better toe the line. (Whether one should want respect from the ruling elite is another question entirely.)

Bear in mind that Hagel is no critic of the American empire. During his two terms in the U.S. Senate, his actions rarely reflected the remarks that caused him so much trouble at his confirmation hearing. To his credit, Hagel had been in the wing of the establishment that fears the consequences of war with Iran. But now that the only thing that stands between him and the Pentagon is a Senate that includes neoconservative Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others, Hagel feels compelled to say that "all options are on the table." "All options" logically includes, not only a conventional military attack, but also nuclear weapons. But as the hearing brought out, "all options" actually excludes one option: containment of a nuclear Iran. Some who believe that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon have suggested that the same policy the U.S. government followed throughout the cold war with the old nuclear-armed Soviet Union would be a better way to deal with the Islamic Republic than war. But Hagel felt compelled to say that containment is an unacceptable alternative to insistence, backed by a military threat, that Iran abandon its nuclear program. Here he echoed the Obama administration, as well as McCain and Graham. Since containment would forswear a military attack, the dominant wing of the establishment rejects it.

Unfortunately, the "independent" Hagel has never shown any skepticism about the unproven allegations that Iran's rulers are developing a nuclear weapon. As a signer of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is subject to inspections and has complied with the terms of the treaty. The wrangling with the U.S. government is over Iran's wish to do what that treaty says it may do: enrich uranium for medical and energy purposes.

Finally, Hagel was grilled over his previous criticism of the surge in Iraq. Again he backed away from it. The surge has become part of the empire's sacred faith, and doubting its success won't be tolerated.

In fact, the success is a myth. What diminished the violence in Iraq was the Shi'ite completion of sectarian cleansing in Baghdad and U.S. payments to Sunni leaders to wipe out the local al-Qaeda militants. The political goals of the surge were largely unachieved, and sectarian violence continues to this day.

Dissidents beware. Hagel's treatment and performance indicate that even a little dissent from the establishment foreign policy can be a bad career move.

This article originally appeared at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. 1.)

      1. You have what I let you have.

        1. And you’ll like it!

        2. To be honest, I don’t particulary care whether or not I beat the Fist of Etiketka to commenting. I at least have interesting comments to make.

          1. citation

  2. Dissidents beware? WTF? Sheldon you may agree with Hagel’s positions, but a lot of people don’t. And yes they have a right to their opinion and a right to vote against Hagel’s confirmation over it. That is owe politics works and sometimes your side loses. If the rolls were reversed and Hagel were being slapped down for saying things you didn’t like, you wouldn’t be calli g him a dissident. You would be applauding the Senate. This article is idiotic.

    1. Agreed.

      Furthermore, we’re talking about the Secretary of Defense, here. I may not agree with McCain about much, nor do I consider him to be trustworthy. But I do figure that the Senate needs to weed out the really bad nominations. That’s its job, and it doesn’t do it enough.

      1. (And SecDef isn’t a great place for either warboner types, nor for dim-witted self-proclaimed ‘dissident’ types like Hagel, either)

        1. Yeah, Hagel’s a fucking idiot that hasn’t aged well, that’s why he performed poorly.

    2. Dissidents beware. Hagel’s treatment and performance indicate that even a little dissent from the establishment foreign policy can be a bad career move.

      Silly John, didn’t you get the memo? JOOZ control the media and the government. JOOZ!

      This is why Richman was forced to pen this missive from his secure JOO-proof bunker in an undisclosed location.

      1. If Sheldon was in the bunker, it wasn’t Jew proofed.

        1. A thick, vicious film of self-hatred can fool JOO-scanners.


    LA cops shoot up another pickup in manhunt for deranged cop. Didn’t they find the guy’s pickup burned? Isn’t that an indication that he is no longer driving a pickup? Angry baboons are smarter than this.

    1. I think this happened before they discovered the burned truck on the same day they tried to execute those dastardly newspaper ladies.

      Still, your analysis is correct.

      1. I really hope the guy was eaten by wolves in the Sierras somewhere but his body is never found. That way justice is served but these fucking retards are deprived of capturing him and haunted by the cop killin boogie man living under their beds.

        1. I’m wondering if Dorner set up the whole “burning truck” thing and had an accomplice waiting to drive him away from the scene. He knows enough about police methods that he’d predict they would then spend days combing freezing hills, while he gets thousands of miles away unnoticed. Or maybe I’ve seen too many Bruce Willis movies.

          1. He wouldn’t even need an accomplice.

            He could’ve left another car or bike in a parking lot. Burned his car and walked to the other transport and them been down the mountain before the cops even figured out that it was his truck that was burning.

      2. This really transcends Dorner at this point. The LAPD is assembling eco-death squads to track down truck/suv driver and persuade them to destroy their gas guzzling, Gaia killing AGW smog machines, and instead, buy the proper Volt and/or Prius. The fact that they (the LAPD) are using their special needs (tax break) anti-marksmen shows how much they care about the public in general, kinda like getting off with a warning.

        1. I hope they are at least using lead free bullets.

      3. I have had it with the “oh they are just so edgy” bullshi. Excuses. It is one guy. What a bunch of trigger happy cowards. Tough shit if you are edgy. That is why you are trained and what you get paid for. Get over it.

      4. This really cries out for some totally bonkers libertarian Morgan Spurlock/Oliver Stone combo (if you can imagine such a thing) making the greatest documentary ever.

        1. It does. But the people who make such things have gone all in for the team blue security state.

    2. You know the guy they finally decided killed Chandra Levy is in the news this month, going to trial again or something. I’m typing this about a block from her old apartment.

      Turns out he is a serial killer and there was a string of petite women with shoulder length brown hair all killed in DC. The police never connected them. Because one was Jewish (Chandra) and white, one Asian, one black, etc. Same height, age, build, hair style and color. But police didn’t see a pattern.

      1. True American Heroes.

  4. Hagel’s reluctance to ruh into war may be laudable.

    But Iran wanting to enrich Uranium for medical and energy purposes? Give me a break. You can’t be that stupid.

    Ron Paul may have ruffled feathers when he said that Iran has as much of a right to nuclear weapons as we do, but his position was honest and above board.

    If libertarians start parroting stupidity and lies, like Iran’s sudden apparent interest in nuclear medicine, we will be laughed off the stage — and rightly so — leaving the neocons as the ‘sane’ voices, and leaving them in charge of foreign policy.

    Willful ignorance and outright stupidity will not help.

    1. It is one thing to hold a contrary position. It is another to be dishonest and stupid, which is what Havel was.

      1. John, do you mean Hagel, or were you referring to Vaclav Havel?

        1. He’s probably using an iPad like me. This autocorrect feature sucks, but Asspile won’t approve Swype, either. Glad I didn’t pay for this thing.

          1. iPad editor is the devil.

        2. Hagel smart ass

          1. Oh, John. Don’t be such a pill. Much of the time I am posting with a Cyrillic KB, so I make my share of typos and grammatical errors.-))) That, and I never was a very good typer anyway.

            Just ribbing ya!

            1. I have a dream…that one day participants will embrace stream of consciousness thinking/typing and decipher the intent of the words rather than the quality of the syntax.

              1. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor agrees.

            2. I know. I was just ribbing you back.

            3. Don’t you mean typre?

            4. Rib me. I’ll probably get more out of it.

        3. Doc, we are talking about John. He got most of the letters right.

          1. Proofing is for cowards.

        4. Were you referring to V?clav Havel, Herr Doktor? Oh and he was a total neocon.

          1. Did he suck his own dick? Or did he go for the gusto and skullfuck himself?

            1. I only said they OUGHT to go suck their own cocks for all I care.

              While I wasn’t a huge fan of Havel and his rather naive liberal politics I had a lot more respect for him than Klaus who is a total sleazeball who managed to convince Westerners that he was some sort of Thatcherite or even libertarian.

              1. Still beats that commie bullshit, though.

              2. We aren’t allowed to say that now he’s at Cato.

            2. Those neocons are limber.

      2. Not Hagel in this case. Sheldon Richman criticizes Hagel because Hagel does NOT believe that Iran wants enriched Uranium just for nuclear power and medicine. The willful ignorance and stupidity are Richman’s, not Hagel’s, in this case.

        And they are embarrassing as well as counterproductive.

        1. Back in the 80s and early 90s people said the same thing about North Korea’s nuclear program.

          1. It is conceivable, to someone very naive, that the Norks, who basically live in darkness, might actually want a reactor for electricity. For Iran, the notion is even more ludicrous. If they were concerned about energy sources, they’d build refineries. If they wanted high tech medicine, they would not have chased their doctors to North America and Europe.

            1. Am I the only one who is very skeptical of the alleged fact that the Norks actually managed to make and explode a nuke?

              1. If it wasn’t real they were just sitting around with a press release waiting for a convenient earthquake.

              2. I am skeptical, too.

                But again, saying “they’ll never pull it off, given the realities of North Korea” is way different from saying, “they don’t want a nuclear weapon! NK and its 2 million soldiers have no military intentions, ever!”

              3. “Am I the only one who is very skeptical of the alleged fact that the Norks actually managed to make and explode a nuke?”

                For as low as the alleged yields were, I have often wondered if they had just packed a cave with a shitload of military grade explosives and some ash or other byproducts of their reactor and set it off and then said “look, we are nuclear now…give us all everything we demand now!”

                1. For as low as the alleged yields were, I have often wondered if they had just packed a cave with a shitload of military grade explosives and some ash or other byproducts of their reactor and set it off and then said “look, we are nuclear now…give us all everything we demand now!”


                  Also, it wouldn’t shock me if China gave them a small nuke to detonate. Which is another thing that seems to be ignored by the media and politicians, China’s support for NK. They’ve a huge interest in having these guys in their backyard to take the heat off their own hegemonic aspirations in the region.

                  1. The thing is, China has gotten sick of NK recently. Besides the uncertainty of having batshit crazy neighbors, NK has exported their meth problem into northeast China.

              4. Am I the only one who is very skeptical of the alleged fact that the Norks actually managed to make and explode a nuke?


    2. But Iran wanting to enrich Uranium for medical and energy purposes? Give me a break. You can’t be that stupid.

      come on, Barry. People believe what they want to believe, to include Sheldon and to include some of Reason’s own staffers who continue trying to justify their Obama boners.

      Confirmation bias, I believe it’s called. If you think the neocons just want war with Iran and you oppose them, you will latch on to any position that precludes war. Even something as ludicrous nuclear medicine.

      1. And that’s the problem.

        Absent a ‘third way’, there will only be warboner neocons and stupid pacifists. Pacifism will lose in any political debate in the US, as it should. Hence, the warboners win.

        When libertarians throw our lots in with the most stupid appeasing peaceniks, we have just lost the debate. What do we have to offer, if it’s just idiocy like the Iranian nuclear medicine trope?

      2. I think the people disparaging nuclear medicine and energy as (very minor!) motivations aren’t giving Iranian politicians and the common man enough credit for being a stupid as ours. You often read that the nuclear program is very popular with the man on the street for national pride reasons, just like your average Murrican gets a stiffy about living in the biggest nuclear power.

        Well, we’ve recently seen Iranians waste money on duplicative “prestige” nonsense like monkeys in space. Somewhere there’s a member of the council of guardians whose brother is a doctor who really does want to establish a nuclear medicine program. And pistachio flavored Tang is coming any day now. Nuclear energy for an oil/gas rich country? What’s next, wasting money turning corn into a corrosive engine destroying fuel? You’re right, no one would ever do that. They’re clearly hiding something!

        1. But yes, they are also hiding something.

        2. Interesting points for the political science professor to ponder.

          Not much relevance to strategy, which is what we want from SecDef. We already have a SecState, and a UN Ambassador. SecDef has a different job.

        3. What if the Iranians (with the help of a willing Russian government, looking for payback after our meddling in the fall of the Soviet state, Ukraine, and Georgia plus the other color revolutions), emboldened by the success of the North Koreans eternal extortion racket, have been doing this for 15 years. What if the U.S. went to war in Iraq, partially on behest of Iran to eliminate he only major threat to Iran (the increasingly unpredictable Taliban/drug runners and smugglers in Afghanistan also) and offset the need for them to develop nuclear weapons, and prevent Israel from striking them?setting of a dangerous series of events. What if after they agreed to this, they then reneged on the deal, restarting their program, then even announcing it to the world to keep extorting, from a larger audience.

          /Alex Jones off

        4. I haven’t seen mango Tang for some time. Used to make a mousse from it, flour, nonfat dry milk, baking soda, and water. All powders except for the water, which was added last. The baking soda would fizz with the acid in the Tang, especially when heated. I can’t wait for the pistachio version.

    3. ?But Iran wanting to enrich Uranium for medical and energy purposes??

      Uranium doesn?t refine itself. If Iran want to use nuclear medicine and nuclear power, they are going to have to refine uranium. No getting around it. I don?t see how this is in any way controversial.

      What strikes me as odd is the belief that USA cares if Iran develops nuclear weapons. When has the USA done anything to stop any nation from developing these weapons? North Korea announced its withdrawal from the non proliferation treaty, signalling its intention to proliferate, and the USA did NOTHING. Similarly when Saddam was working on these weapons, the USA didn?t do anything, and when Israel put a stop to it, the Reagan administration condemned Israel?s action.

      This endless fuss over Iran I?m sure serves its purpose, but it has nothing to do with whether or not Iran has the bomb. The USA has already decided apparently that it can?t or won?t go to war with Iran. The presence or absence of Iranian nukes isn?t going to alter that equation in the least.

    1. Cash for Clunkers – Trucks for Targets.

    2. Woohoo! A new truck! ( financed by donors btw)

      1. “( financed by donors btw)”

        Stolen off the lot by the chief of the LAPD and hand delivered to the hospital parking lot, and also on the victim’s 2013-2014 state tax liability forms?keeping it classy!

    3. Thanks chief. But I was thinking more along the lines of being able to retire on your dime, while spending my weekends visiting the fucking shitbags who shot us in the state penitentiary for the next 30 years, while you are happily flipping burgers at your new job at Wendy’s.

      /Nice paper delivery ladies brutally gunned down by trigger happy pigs

  5. “All options” logically includes, not only a conventional military attack, but also nuclear weapons.

    Ummm, yeah, sorry, but this is total bullcrap. I don’t think you even really believe this garbage, Richman. We’re not using nuclear weapons against Iran or anyone else.

  6. So what if that option is ‘on the table’ anyway. Obviously, it is on the table. We have nukes. Therefore we have the option. That hardly means we will exercise that option. We only did so once, long before most Americans alive today were born, and only in the context of total war, with relatively low-yield weapons.

    This is the LEAST scary statement a SecDef could make, and one that anyone would say if asked (barring a really stupid pacifist, who has no business in that part of the cabinet, anyway). Is that all that would satisfy Richman? A hardcore pacifist as Secretary of Defense? News flash! Ain’t gonna happen, no matter where you fall on the warboner neocon – suicidal pacifist scale of aggroness.

    1. Meant as reply to Mike M 10:58

  7. The feel good story of the weekend:

    Feud over sign could force Fairfax’s Olde Belhaven to sell square

    Matt McClain/For The Washington Post – Maria Farran and her husband, Sam Farran pose for a portrait in the square of their living complex on Feb. 3, 2013 in Alexandria, Va. The couple were locked in legal issues with their home owner’s association over a political sign and also over their deck and roof.
    Buy This Photo
    Text Size PrintE-mailReprints
    By Justin Jouvenal, Published: February 9

    The feud that consumed Fairfax County’s Olde Belhaven would span four years and cost the community as much as $400,000, and it was ignited by one of the smallest of sparks: an Obama for President sign.

    The modest placard Sam and Maria Farran planted in their yard during the 2008 election put them on a collision course with the neighborhood homeowners association. It was four inches taller than the association’s covenants allowed.

    “Need I say more! This would lead to chaos,” a neighbor fretted in an e-mail about the precedent that would be set if the sign wasn’t removed. “Our property values would be put at risk.”

    1. The Farrans said the HOA had a reputation for hard-line stances. In one case, board member Don Hughes compared some residents’ refusal to install window-pane dividers to the “cat and mouse game Saddam Hussein played with the USA,” e-mails show. Ultimately, Hussein “paid the price,” he said, concluding that the residents should comply.

      It’s simply glorious. Read the whole thing.

    2. “There really, truly was a sense of community here,” LeBlanc said. “That was truly lost in this process.”

      Live by the “community”, die by the “community”.

      1. I still have flashbacks about a mediation I did eight years ago in Texas small claims court between an eccentric old dude who didn’t mow his lawn (the photos indicated he was trying to recreate his Vietname experience) and a HOA run by the inspiration for the Church Lady sketch.

        1. Ugh, sounds horrible. I have no idea why anyone would willing live in a HOA area, and the insidiousness of various municipalities forcing HOAs on people drives me to berserker rage.

  8. Unfortunately, the “independent” Hagel has never shown any skepticism about the unproven allegations that Iran’s rulers are developing a nuclear weapon.

    Whoa. Whatever you think about Iran, or how to deal with them, or how Chucky Hagel fits in the whole scheme, to describe Iran’s seeking of nuclear weapons as ‘unproven’ is a bit of a stretch. Everybody knows the Iranians are pursuing a nuclear weapon, including Iranians on the streets of Tehran talking to foreign reporters.

    The nuclear program Iran has is built to accomplish nothing else really, and its patently obvious to anybody who knows anything about nuclear stuff – just as much as Iraq’s ‘nuclear bomb program’ was a complete fiction likewise circa 2002.

    1. Iraq outsourced its bomb program to Libya. You can look it up.

  9. Hagel is hardly different than the establishment, and they still want to butcher him. Maybe because he was nominated by a “D” ??

    1. He’s going to be confirmed easily with support from both sides of the aisle. The grilling he got from a few guys is a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.

    2. He was nominated in part because he would distract from more important issues and get the GOPsters squabbling among themselves. It worked.

  10. Maybe because he was nominated by a “D” ??

    Or maybe because he’s critical of Zionism.

  11. OK wow, so who comes up with all that crazy stuff dude.

  12. What is wrong with Egypt? They have shut their borders tight against Palestinians – except for smugglers.

    Egypt is an apartheid state.

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