Quote of the Day

An anonymous U. S. senior official, speaking about Israeli P. M. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Iran’s nuclear program,  quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:

“It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Not to be confused with another senior U. S. official who called Bibi “a chickenshit.”

I would say it wasn’t just our pressure on Bibi, but also our assurances, which today look pretty hollow.

To me, the scariest thing right now is not Ebola or ISIS, but that we seem to be on the verge of doing a disastrous deal with Iran.

Quote of the Day

“We have no interest because we have no ability to assess what is good for us regarding the future regime.”

Tzachi Hanegbi, prominent Israeli legislator, who is close to Netanyahu

Hanegbi was commenting that Israel’s airstrikes in Syria are intended to stop missile shipments from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon and are not intended to influence the ongoing Syrian civil war.

It seems to me that what’s true for Israel is also true for us — we can’t really support either side, given that Assad is a brutal dictator, but the leading rebels are Islamist extremists, some with ties to Al Qaeda.  We’d certainly like Assad to go, but not with the cast of characters who seem poised to replace him.

Realist Hagel and His Neo-Con Haters

Those who oppose Chuck Hagel for DoD, and either whisper or shout that he is anti-Israel/anti-Semitic are really saying that to be pro-Israel, you have to support absolutely everything that Benjamin Netanyahu wants and stands for.

It’s like saying that you’re anti-American unless you support the GOP or anti-British unless you support the Tories.

Suddenly support for Israel is limited to support for its far right.

By this bizarre standard there are a whole lot of folks in Israel and politicians in its Knesset who are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham and newbie Ted Cruz are afraid of Hagel.  They want to stay in Afghanistan forever, and they know that Hagel will argue to get out sooner than the end of 2014, which is what this war-weary country wants.

Now sometimes being war-weary doesn’t mean you’re right, sometimes you have to suck it up and stick it out, but in this case, the mood of the country matches the strategic reality that we have nothing to gain by staying longer in Afghanistan.

The Hagel haters also fear that he will be an effective spokesman for making DoD more efficient.  They can see him on the Sunday talk shows convincingly arguing that some weapons systems can be eliminated, that the defense budget can be cut without making us less safe.  They can see him authoring cogent op-eds that will sway opinion leaders.

I am excited about the combo of Hagel at DoD and Brennan at CIA.  Brennan is our Drone Guy, and he and Hagel will continue to fight the War on Terror the way it needs to be fought, with more drones and special forces, not tens of thousands of troops stuck manning mountain outposts while Al Qaeda finds other homes.

As Al Qaeda and its affiliates move and spread, we have to be as flexible as they are.  We had as many drone strikes in Yemen in 2012 as we did in Pakistan because we are taking the fight to the enemy.  There is talk of drone strikes in Mali (and maybe they are happening as I write this) because that’s where Al Qaeda is.

Obama, Hagel, and Brennan get it.  They see the big picture of how everything fits together. They see the importance of our relationship with Pakistan, frustrating and infuriating as it is.  They see how the war in Iraq destabilized the region and upset the balance of power by taking away Iran’s biggest rival and constraint.    Now Iran and Iraq are friends, and Iran is freer to pursue its dreams of hegemony in the region.  Hagel is a realist like Bush 41, who recognized that we should kick Iraq out of Kuwait, but not continue to Baghdad because we were better off with Saddam Hussein in power.

 

Quote of the Day

“The world tells Israel wait, there is still time.  And I say, wait for what?  Wait until when?  Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

One of the things we should remember today is that neither the Clinton Administration nor the early Bush Administration took Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda seriously enough.  The saddest thing about 9/11 is that it could have and should have been prevented.