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The Meaning of Pat Buchanan's Surpising Endorsement of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

He singles out, just as the Left does, the new settlement construction, which he describes inaccurately as “bisecting the West Bank,” and a move that will “kill any chance for a Palestinian state.” Evidently, Mr. Buchanan does not see any of the self-defeating rejectionist policies of both Fatah and Hamas as having anything to do with the failure of the Palestinians to get a state of their own.

Next, Buchanan argues in favor of talking with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, as if such talks have ever led anywhere or would in the future. He uses the analogy of Harry Truman talking to Stalin. What he leaves out, circa Stone and Kuznick, is that Truman learned from recalcitrant Soviet behavior of the futility of such talks, and he proceeded to take a hard line in opposition to the growth of the Soviet empire.

In this case, what Buchanan and company favor is bending to Iran’s will and essentially allowing a nuclear Iran to develop. (After all, as others have argued, the mullahs need a bomb to protect themselves from Israeli aggression!)

Next, Buchanan uses the rather foolish argument -- quoting Robert Gates -- that our country would be foolish “to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East.” True enough.

Who, however, is arguing for that?

The case for being tough against Iran is not based on any consideration of an armed invasion of that country, only on taking tough measures -- including the possibility of a strike against its nuclear facilities -- should that become necessary.

Buchanan then asks how Hagel could be an anti-Semite, since “so many Jewish columnists and writers” are supporting his candidacy. I happen to think that those who are throwing out the canard that Hagel is anti-Semitic are wrong. But I believe the policies he favors would indeed be harmful to our country’s national interest.

I would reverse Buchanan’s question, however: why is a known anti-Semite like Buchanan endorsing Hagel?

Does that tell us anything? What views which Buchanan thinks Hagel holds make Buchanan see him in such a favorable light? Is not this something we should be concerned about?

Buchanan concludes with the following analysis:

Neocon hostility to Hagel is rooted in a fear that in Obama's inner councils his voice would be raised in favor of negotiating with Iran and against a preventive war or pre-emptive strike. But if Obama permits these assaults to persuade him not to nominate Hagel, he will only be postponing a defining battle of his presidency, not avoiding it.

President Obama, however, has told supporters like Alan Dershowitz and Ed Koch that he means what he says: he will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, and nothing is off the table for stopping them. And that is why they support the president. And Bibi Netanyahu has said as well that he believes Obama when he says that his policy is meant to prevent Iran from getting a bomb.

If that is the president’s policy, then what Hagel and Buchanan stand for is in fact against Obama's own policy as Obama has explained it.

Buchanan wants a Hagel appointment because he believes it will put a monkey-wrench in any tough policy option should it become necessary. As he puts it, the “war party” of the neocons favors a “U.S. war on Iran in 2013.” To Buchanan and the isolationists -- and evidently some of the “realists” as well -- that is the issue, and not Iran’s bellicose policy and the mullahs' war on their own people.

So when he argues that the president should not “appease these [neocon] wolves,” he is really saying Iran should not be stopped. That is not surprising, since in his eyes, Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation that the U.S. should oppose.