Tuesday, January 08, 2013

An Arab Writer Presents The Case Against Chuck Hagel

With Kerry, Hagel and Brennan selected by Obama to join his administration, the case will be made that the only reason to oppose these nominations is that they are not strong enough -- or are in fact opposed to -- Israel. Thus the fact that Hagel denigrated a choice for a diplomatic position because he was gay will be passed over.

What is important to realize though, is that these 3 appointments in the past have consistently insisted on the importance of the US talking to Syria and Iran, as well as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Perhaps that is why Obama's choice of Kerry, Hagel and Brennan are not a cause for concern just for Israel.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a Washington-based reporter/writer whose articles in English have appeared on Huffington PostNow Lebanon and on his blog, The Arab Spring and on Twitter.

Generally, one would think that the pro-Israel opposition to Obama's selection of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would automatically mean that Arabs -- both in the US and abroad -- would favor the appointment.

But Hussain Abdul-Hussain sees Hagel's appoint a bit differently, as he writes in The Case Against Chuck Hagel: An Arab Perspective:
The cases made for and against Chuck Hagel's appointment as Secretary of Defense have so far focused on his record toward Israel or his past slur against homosexuals. But from an Arab perspective, Hagel is a bad choice too, not because he advocates engaging Iran—which is in and of itself a good policy—but because such talks would probably give Tehran a free hand in Arab affairs, which Hagel seems to approve of.

...In his book, 'America: Our Next Chapter,' Hagel called for initiating talks with Iran. Before his retirement, Hagel also advocated 'engaging Syria' and 'changing the behavior of its regime.' In an op-ed that he co-wrote with Senator John Kerry in the Wall Street Journal, the two senators argued for enlisting Syria's help in Iraq, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries.

While appealing, Hagel's ideas are dangerously naive. Just as changing the behavior of the Assad regime proved impossible—at least judging by the 60,000 Syrians the conflict has killed so far—'changing the behavior' of Iran's regime might prove an even more daunting task.

...US-Iran talks, from Tehran's perspective, should include recognizing Iranian interests in Arab countries, to the detriment of the Arabs. As Hagel perceived it was possible to enlist Assad's help in Arab affairs, he might—as Secretary of Defense—think the same about the Iranian regime, thus throwing America's Arab friends under the bus. For this reason, the Arabs should say no to Hagel's appointment.
Read the whole thing.

We have seen the results of 4 years of Obama's foreign policy at work in the Middle East as the Arab Spring has turned into a bazaar for radical Islamists looking for countries where they can assume power. With Hagel reinforcing Obama's failed policies -- assisted by Kerry and Brennan -- things will not be getting any better for the Arab world, worried by the threat of a nuclear Iran and Obama's failure to deal with it.

Hat tip: PMB

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