“name one person, in your opinion, who’s intimidated by the Israel lobby in the United States Senate.”
“I don’t know,” Hagel ultimately conceded.
Graham continued his interrogation, asking Hagel to, “Name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing because of the pressure from the Israeli or Jewish lobby?”
“I have already stated that I regret the terminology,” Hagel protested.
“But you said back then, it makes us do dumb things,” Graham pressed. “You can’t name one senator intimidated, now give me one example of the dumb things that we’re pressured to do up here.”
“Well, I can’t give you an example,” Hagel admitted.
The viciousness of the Hagel hearings is really amazing, especially the questioning of John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Ted Cruz. Graham and Cruz especially were being good soldiers of the Israel Lobby. The exchange that really revealed the power of the Lobby was when Graham asked Hagel to
Obviously Hagel was intimidated. There was no way he would name names, even though it’s common knowledge that anyone actively opposing the Israel Lobby should be prepared to see his opponent in the next election run a very well-funded operation. More importantly, Hagel would never be so bold as to name the war in Iraq as Exhibit A for a “dumb thing” that the Senate (including Hagel) was stampeded into by the Israel Lobby, its megaphone in the media, and its operatives in the Pentagon (Wolfowitz, Feith, Shulsky; see here, p. 40ff) supplying false intelligence to the hopelessly naive President Bush. Such things are still completely off the table in polite conversation.
Hagel has regrets about his vote on Iraq and the troop surge. In his book Hagel labeled the war in Iraq one of the greatest blunders of U.S. history and he has been very critical of the Bush administration, especially its foreign policy. But there is no way he would mention the Israel Lobby’s role in his Senate confirmation hearings. Yes, the Israel Lobby is alive and well in Washington.
In 2006 Hagel stated “How many of us really know and understand much about Iraq, the country, the history, the people, the role in the Arab world? I approach the issue of post-Saddam Iraq and the future of democracy and stability in the Middle East with more caution, realism and a bit more humility.” This is in stark contrast to the garbage being pedeled by the neocons and Bernard Lewis (see here and here), their intellectual academic front man who had been reassuring Bush and everyone else that Iraqis yearned for freedom and democracy just like Westerners, so that removing Saddam would instantly usher in a mini-America.
I have no doubt that Hagel realizes that the Israel Lobby was a necessary component of the campaign for war, but he is well-advised not to say so if he wants to be confirmed by the Senate.
The fact that he was intimidated from saying that the Israel Lobby was a powerful, critical ingredient in the campaign for the Iraq war once again shows the power of the Lobby. But Hagel’s nomination is certainly good news that even though the Lobby can’t be directly confronted, its power can be circumvented by a second-term president nominating someone who will say whatever is necessary to get the nomination by not directly questioning the role of the Israel Lobby in promoting a war that has cost over 5000 American lives, many more thousands grievously wounded, and over a trillion dollars, with no benefit at all to the United States. The sentiment seems to be that despite the intense hostility of the questioning, the Democrats will not go against the President and will have enough votes to confirm. And that good news indeed.