Alan Dershowitz’s belated realization that he’s been swindled would have been funny if it were not so tragic. He writes that Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense “risks increasing the likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. It poses that risk because Hagel is well known for his opposition both to sanctions against Iran and to employing the military option if necessary.” In this he is undoubtedly correct.
The burden is now on Senator Hagel to persuade the Senate, the American people, and the leaders of Iran that he is fully supportive of the President’s commitment not to contain a nuclear armed Iran, but to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring, even if that requires the use of military force to achieve that commendable goal.
But as to causes he is completely wrong. Dershowitz’s statement ignores the obvious. If the president were so committed to preventing a nuclear Iran, then why did he nominate Hagel in the first place? The president could have selected any qualified candidate. That he chose Hagel can only indicate that is the true policy he wants to implement.
Words may be true or false, but actions rarely lie. And Dershowitz recognizes the danger, but not the truth. Not yet anyway. His problem is not with Hagel, a mere creature of Obama. The problem is with Obama himself. This must be obvious to a man of his intelligence. But to admit this would be to concede a fundamental error in judgment on his part. It would mean eating not just a little bit of crow, but four courses of it.
Dershowitz supported Obama. He now laments that:
Those of us who voted for President Obama and who want to be certain that Iran is never allowed to develop nuclear weapons, as the President promised, have legitimate concerns about this nomination. We hope that these concerns can be allayed by the President and his nominee, but if they are not, it will be the highest of patriotic duties to oppose Senator Hagel’s nomination.
It’s kinda late for that.
In this matter he can compare notes with Noam Chomsky who fruitlessly asked Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to release a judge whom El Commandate Presidente summarily arrested for having defied him. The Judge, Maria Lourdes Afiuni, ruled for one of Chavez’s opponents “who had been detained longer than the time allowed under Venezuelan law.” So she got thrown into the calaboose.
Several international groups have expressed concern about the arrest of Judge Afiuni. In December 2009, three independent human rights experts of the United Nations’ (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for Judge Afiuni’s immediate and unconditional release …
On 8 July 2010, the European Parliament stated that it “Condemns the public statements made by the President of the Republic of Venezuela, insulting and denigrating the judge, demanding a maximum sentence and requesting a modification of the law to enable a more severe penalty to be imposed; considers that these statements are aggravating the circumstances of her detention and constitute an attack on the independence of the judiciary by the President of a nation, who should be its first guarantor.”
In July 2011, Noam Chomsky—who according to The Observer “Chávez has long considered … one of his best friends in the west”—published an open letter asking the government of Venezuela for “a humanitarian act that ends the judge’s detention”. Chomsky stated, “I am convinced that she must be set free, not only due to her physical and psychological health conditions, but in conformance with the human dignity the Bolivarian revolution presents as a goal. In times of worldwide cries for freedom, the detention of María Lourdes Afiuni stands out as a glaring exception that should be remedied quickly, for the sake of justice and human rights generally and for affirming an honourable role for Venezuela in these struggles.”
Perhaps Chomsky thought Chavez would heed his letter or at least read it. That Chomsky, who “Chávez has long considered … one of his best friends in the west” should count for less than nothing underlines the delusions of those who think gratitude, reciprocity, or promises count among rogues. You cannot make a deal with knaves. But you can make a fool of yourself trying.
It is not as if one could oppose Hagel because he could conduct an independent defense policy. He cannot. The only logical basis for objecting to his nomination must that in him the administration has concretely manifested its actual intentions. Thus, Hagel is just the beginning ‘the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to you year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health you wake up and smell the coffee’ because he is an indicator of where Obama wants to go. There’s more — much more where that came from.