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The Continuing Bad Advice of Thomas Friedman: Bad for the United States and for Israel

To Tom Friedman, putting in Hagel is good because it is “healthy to have [these views] included in the president’s national security debates.” Friedman says the president must hear “all the alternatives,” something he supposedly will not hear if Hagel is not secretary of Defense.

Of course, we know that the president regularly reads the vociferously anti-Israel blog posts of Andrew Sullivan, and reads Friedman as well. Does he really need Hagel present just to hear these arguments?

As Dershowitz rightfully says, Hagel in a position of major importance becomes in itself an announcement that the administration is moving strongly in a new anti-Israel direction. Which is why people like John Judis want him in that office.

Another reason Friedman wants Hagel in is because he believes it is in our nation’s interest to engage Hamas, and to negotiate with the terror group -- despite the fact that its leaders consistently have made clear their sole goal, never to be abandoned, is the destruction of the Jewish state. Here, Friedman calls Hagel’s views simply “philosophical criticism,” the belief that he prefers a “negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear program,” a “willingness to engage Hamas to see if it can be moved from its extremism,” the belief that the Pentagon “budget should be cut,” and his “aversion to going to war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”


A newspaper columnist like Friedman can make these arguments. But a secretary of Defense who is against his own department? Who wants to cut its budget and to do anything to avert war, including negotiating with enemies who have sworn to do anything necessary, including terrorist attacks, to reach their goal? This reveals only a refusal to acknowledge reality, and a dependence on the delusional belief that he alone can make offers that will make the other side renounce its very raison d’etre.

Here even Friedman is a bit skeptical, and yet he writes that he wants “to test and test again whether a diplomatic deal is possible before any military strike.” But when are such tests of Iran and Hamas to stop? When they already have nuclear weapons, or when Friedman himself says it is time?

To date, it is a commentator like Friedman who continually wants to let Iran play the U.S. while it builds its future nuclear capacity, and who argues regularly for no action until Iran is again tested.

As Dershowitz writes, a Hagel appointment would be understood by Iran to indicate that the new secretary of Defense “would strongly oppose the use of force against Iran’s nuclear program, even as a last resort.” It also would send the message that only those who favor force if necessary are “the Jews.” Hence one cannot minimize, as Friedman does, Hagel’s comment that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people.” Hagel, as Dershowitz writes, “sees things in terms of Jewish interests versus American interests.” As Dershowitz concludes:

This is not the time to be sending the wrong message, or even a confusing message, to Iran and its surrogates by nominating a man who is widely seen as out of the American mainstream when it comes to support for Israel’s security.