Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Winter of the Neocons’ Discontent

Hagel’s most dogged enemies, particularly Kristol, used the nominee’s startlingly weak performance at last week’s confirmation hearing to attack him, yet again, as incompetent. "Has there ever been a more embarrassing confirmation hearing than Hagel’s for a major Cabinet position? For a minor Cabinet position? For a subcabinet position? We don’t know of one," Kristol wrote in his neoconservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, this week. Kristol then attacked Obama and Democrats for being less than "profiles in courage" for supporting him: "Are liberals and Democrats willing to sell their souls for ... Chuck Hagel?"

And yet, as I have written, Hagel's policy views are invariably well-thought-out, and he himself qualifies as quite a profile in courage when it comes to the anti-Iraq war side of history. Obama’s famous dismissal of the Iraq invasion as a “dumb” war, and Hagel’s distinguished record of defiance toward his own party to oppose the war, amount to a living refutation of McCain’s and Kristol’s entire worldview. A decade ago, McCain and Kristol were leading hawks who claimed that Saddam Hussein had connections with al-Qaida and that weapons of mass destruction would certainly be found, and that George W. Bush could do it all and still preside over a strong economy. While Kristol was agitating for war and saying things like, "I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq" (March 5, 2003), Hagel was warning accurately that there was no evidence of Saddam's links to al-Qaida, that his possession of WMD were in doubt, and that America was in danger of strategic overreach and enraging the Arab world.

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