Robert Naiman has a theory about conservative objections to Hagel as Obama’s pick for Defense.
Since the Bush Administration, there’s been a kind of stalemate in Iran policy. Diplomacy advocates have worked to block war to force a turn to serious diplomacy. The necons have worked to block serious diplomacy to force a turn towards war. As a result, so far we have neither war nor serious diplomacy. Instead, we have a “compromise”: escalating sanctions on Iran, which have begun to “succeed” in producing a lot of civilian suffering in Iran, but haven’t succeeded at all, as yet, in producing progress towards a diplomatic agreement.
The problem – as most analysts, including Hagel, acknowledge – is that whatever one thinks about sanctions from a humanitarian point of view, they can’t work to help achieve a diplomatic agreement unless they are accompanied by a serious diplomatic track. And a serious diplomatic track means putting serious offers on the table – offers that the other side could plausibly be expected to give serious consideration to accepting.
So far, the neocon lobby has been largely successful in obstructing the Obama Administration from putting serious offers on the table. Now, with Obama re-elected, with Joe Lieberman leaving the Senate, with the influence of the McCain/Graham faction ebbing, a little bit of optimism was starting to emerge that the Obama Administration could start putting serious offers on the table.
And this is the backstory of the neocon lobby’s pre-emptive strike on Chuck Hagel. Their real target isn’t Hagel. Their real target is Obama. They want to bully Obama into backing off of any plans to engage in serious diplomacy with Iran, and to effect this bullying they want to make an example of Hagel.
And this is why the neocon lobby can’t be allowed to win. We have a window in the next few months to pursue serious diplomacy with Iran before the impending Iranian elections make compromise with the U.S. next to impossible, just as impending U.S. elections made compromise with Iran next to impossible. If the neocon lobby is allowed to blow up the Obama Administration in this window, then the window for serious diplomacy will be gone, and all we’ll be left with is more escalation towards war.
But I had a cynical laugh at this: “So far, the neocon lobby has been largely successful in obstructing the Obama Administration from putting serious offers on the table.”
I really don’t think the neocons had to try too hard, given the influence of Hillary ‘Madame AIPAC” Clinton and other neolib hawks (including, let’s be honest, Obama) within the administration. In fact, I think that latter faction is the real reason we’ve seen no “serious offers on the table”. They wouldn’t even back Lula’s initiative, which would have solved the enrichment problem definitively and for more nations than just Iran.
The real battle here, if it is more than just the usual political scalphunting, is about whether to try to cripple Iran with sanctions and offer no deals which might give relief from them, or just go straight to Bibi’s plan for bombing the shit out of Tehran.
There were some echoes of the “anti-semitic” argument against anyone offering objections to war from the neocon Israel First lobby back in 2003 too, over Iraq, if I remember correctly. Apparently, nowadays it is anti-semitic to be even mildly opposed to bombing Muslims.