The social Matrix

The social Matrix

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don’t love Israel enough Hegel must hate America?

The Hawks were out on the hunt last week during the Senate Committee for Armed Services hearing over the confirmation of Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense.   Republicans like Lindsey Graham, James Inhofe and newcomer Ted Cruz from Texas were clearly in a feeding frenzy.  While Dems mainly stuck to safer and mundane topics, like the managing the bureaucracy of the Department of Defense and supporting the troop’s reentry into society, the republicans were vivaciously circling the proverbial sky eager to attack the senator’s record on Israel and Iran.

  Here are some of the more colorful statements and questions, the mostly republican senators made, and how my rebuttals:

James Inhofa

“His (Senator Hagel’s) record demonstrates what I view as a lack of steadfast opposition to policies that diminish U.S. power and influence throughout the world as well as a recent trend of policy reversals that….. Too often it seems he is willing to subscribe to a
worldwide view that is predicated on appeasing our adversaries
while shunning our friends.”

   I wonder if Inhofa felt the same way when Richard Nixon went to Communist China to begin direct talk--in this time period Mao Zedong, the face of Chinese communism, had ascended to power. Initiating communication with adversarial nation-states is the point of diplomacy.

  Regarding Hegel's sneaky attempts to diminish the U.S.'s global influence let's look at his  record:

  • Voted YES on enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe. (May 2002)
  • voted NO on limiting NATO expansion to only Poland, Hungary & Czech. (Apr 1998)
  • Implement Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force. (Feb 2008)
  • Urge Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations. (May 2007)
  • Develop a strategy to protect civilians in Darfur. (Feb 2007)

   Clearly Hegel subscribes to the misguided mythology that working with international organizations and institutions is the best way to solve global problems. This obviously demonstrates Hegel’s incapacity to lead as Secretary of Defense.
  As intense as Inhofe was while questioning Hegel’s commitment to  U.S.’s global hegemony, this was only the opening scene which made the confirmation process look more like the House Un-American Activities Committee rather than a confirmation hearing for the next Secretary of Defense.

Inhofa continued in his inquisition;

He (Hegel) has advocated for direct negotiations with Iran, a regime that continues to repress its people, doggedly pursue a nuclear weapon capability, and employ terrorist proxies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, who threaten the security of Israel and the region.

I find it a little ironic that the same guy who wants to criticize Iran’s human rights record. Inhofe is one of a few, senators who have voted against the Detainment Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits torture and cruel treatment of detainees. Why is Inhofe only focused on Iran’s human rights record while ignoring countries like China, and Saudi Arabia. Iran is a repressive regime that rightfully deserves criticism but lets be honest, if Iran was Israel’s top ally in the region, Inhofe would be mute.  

Many of the other senators seam to echo the same irrational fears of Iran:

 Senator Gillibrand from New York also had some choice words:

The Iranian government has been responsible for the deaths of U.S.
Service members, an attempted attack on U.S. soil, the funding,
training of terrorist groups.

Many of Hagel’s harsh critics linked Iran with terrorist proxies i.e. Hezbollah and Hamas.

Hegel has been criticized   by his republican brethrens for voting against identifying the Revolutionary Guards of Iran as a terrorist organization.

There are many points to be made about this issue. First, Hezbollah and Hamas would still be at war with Israel regardless if Iran exists. Removing Iran from the equation isn’t going to eliminate Hezbollah or Hamas from fighting Israel. The animosity that exists between these groups is not dependent on Iran. The senators, create this false narrative that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations created by Iran.

Second, I’m glad that Senators such as James Inhofe and Lindsey Graham stand up against terrorism. We need Senators who are strong and resolute. There is no excuse for terrorism, so I suppose that the senators stayed consistent and voted to recognize the militant Iranian organization, MEK, Mojahedin e Khalq organization, as a terrorist along with Bill Clinton in 1997. The MEK is also responsible for assassination attempts on Americans as well as attacks on Iran

Many Iranians believe that the MEK was also actively involved in launching attacks against Iran during the Iran Iraq war. Last year, the removal of the  MEK from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations was highlighted in the alternative press. Furthermore, it was later discovered that the same politicians who advocated for the removal of the MEK from being listed as a terrorist organization, received donations from the same organization.

Its gets better. Award-winning Journalist Seymour Hersh, known for exposed the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, discovered training camps for MEK militants in Nevada. Some sources have even speculated that the MEK might have been involved with the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists and physics.

So Graham and Inhofe want to bring up terrorism by using Hamas, Hezbollah, and Revolutionary Guards as example but are conveniently silent about the MEK?

The second issue brought up regarding Iran was nuclear weapons. This issue was brought to the attention of Hegel on several occasions.

The cloud of fear-mongering over Iran’s nukes was exemplified by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine:

The Iranian nuclear threat is a much bigger one. It is very clear
that if Iran gets nuclear weapons that other nations will start to
do the same thing, and that would cut completely counter to I
know principles that you hold, principles the President holds. It’s
not just on Israel’s shoulders to be worried about a nuclear Iran.

I could be wrong but I have a HUNCH these fears aremisplaced? Its hard to take the senators concern over a nuclear Iran seriously, when many of the senators on the panel criticized Hegel because he believes the military should revisit its nuclear policy.


Also I’m not surprise that these senators are reluctant to criticize Israel’s nuclear stockpile. Moreover, the senators shouldn't be too concern over Iran’s nuclear ambition, given the attacks on a nuclear facility in Iran last week by Israel. I wonder why these senators didn't bring it up?

What is perhaps more troubling is the failure of any senators to place the hostility between the United States and Iran in context. The animosity that Iran has toward the United States was not created in a vacuum, there is a litany of Iranian grievances that have contributed to the current diplomatic gridlock between both countries. These grievances include the coup in 1953, the installation of the shah and his brutal regime,  the support of Iraq during the Iran Iraq war,  Operation Praying Mantis, and the aforementioned support of the MEK.

The revolutionaries, Ayotollahs, Mullahs, and secularists didn’t wake up one morning and  Iranians did not wake up one morning and say to themselves “Maybe we should pick a fight with the most powerful nation in the world as well as with a tiny country who posses the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the region.

To disregard these factors makes the senators look foolish and slaves to their own hawkish ideology.

What is also surprising is that Iran and Israel used to have one of the strongest relationships in the Middle East. According to Bruce Riedel, senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, during the Reagan administration, Many Israelis officials wanted to return to the relationship they had with Iran in the 60s and 70s. Members of the Israeli cabinet even went as far as to take trips to Iran to solidify what many Israelis thought to be its second most important relationship in the world. One concrete example of Israelis attempts to make steps at improving Iranian relationships was when Israel willingly supplied Iran with spare parts for their F-4 Phantom aircraft during the Iran-Iraq war.

Is it more than a coincidence that Israel decided to attack Iraq’s nuclear facility, Osriaq, while it was at war with Iran?

Of course no discussion of the Middle East would be complete without mentioning those menacing, and vicious Palestinians:

Senator Cruz statements:

On April 12, 2002, there was a Palestinian terrorist who detonated a bomb in downtown Jerusalem, killing 6 Israelis and wounding I believe about 100 others. On that day, while you were still serving in the U.S. Senate, you gave a speech on the Senate floor. You made a couple of comments that I’d like to discuss with you and ask you a little bit about.

Cruz went on to Quote Hegel

We will continue to do so. But it should not be at the expense of the Palestinian people, innocent Palestinian people, and innocent Israelis who are paying a high price.”

I wonder if Cruz is at all concerned that in the last decade 129 Israeli children were killed compared to 1,516 Palestinian children. That’s a 12:1 ratio Palestinians to Israelis.

Cruz went on to wax philosophically about the moral superiority of Israel over the Palestinians.

may be indicative of a feeling on your part that there might be some moral equivalence between on the one hand Israel’s exercise of its right to defend itself and on the other hand Palestinian terrorism. Do you believe that there is a moral equivalency between these two things?

Cruz wasn’t the only senator, who mentioned Palestinians,

 Senator Lee: is their Grievance legitimate?
 Senator Hagel: The Palestinians?
  Senator Lee: Yes, the Palestinians who decide to strap a bomb onto themselves and detonate it or otherwise engage in acts of terror: do they have a legitimate grievance that they’re expressing?

    By framing the issue in this context, Senator LEE, conveniently omits any culpability Israel may have in this perpetual conflict. Everyone should condemn, unequivocally, the string of suicide attacks that killed innocent Israelis during the second intifada. The killing of innocent civilians does nothing to further the peace process; it alienates Palestinians from the world community. This is also true of the rocket attacks launched from Sinai and Gaza, into southern Israel, which have no strategic targets and are only used to harass and harm Israeli citizens.

However what Senator Lee and his cohorts seam to forget is that there are usually two sides to every conflict. They are not interest in dealing with the root causes of the Palestinian Israel conflict. Instead they are placating their right wing constituency. There are plenty of reasons why Palestinians are hesitant to accept Israel as a partner for peace; Many of these motivations are completely ignored by these Senators. Especially Inhofe, who received a -2 by the Arab American Institute, an organization that focuses on Arab Americans domestically and abroad, for his record on Palestine and Arabs in general.
wouldn't worry if I was Inhofe, I’m sure the AAI is some how connected with terrorists who hate America.

The senate confirmation hearings on Hegel prove, that neo-conservatives see the world through a myopic lens, a lens that sees Israel as a custodian of righteousness and justice, on the one hand, and Iran, and Palestine terrorist entities. The failure, of these politicians to vicariously put themselves in the shoes, of a Palestinian whose family has been killed by an airstrike, or whose house has been bulldozed, by Israel: Or an Iranian veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, or a family member of one of the scientist who was assassinated because of their career choice, demonstrates the empathy deficiency that is so prevalent on capitol hill.  Until, Inhofe, Graham, Cruz and others realize that engaging with the Iranians and Palestinians diplomatically is instrumental for world peace and global stability, Israel's existence will continue to be threaten, as will United States foreign policy interest. 

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