Iran strangely cheered by US SecDef nomination

posted at 10:01 am on January 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

That’s not speculation, either.  CBS News reports this morning that the Foreign Ministry in Tehran believes that the nomination of Chuck Hagel signals “practical changes” in the US approach to Iran — and they’re probably right:

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says it is hopeful the appointment of former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon would improve relations between Tehran and the U.S.

Asked about Hagel’s nomination, ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that Tehran was hopeful that there would be “practical changes” to U.S. foreign policy, and that nations would change their attitude towards the U.S. if it respected their rights.

Israel isn’t feeling as sunny about it, however:

Hagel’s positions on Israel’s two most pressing foreign policy issues — Iran’s nuclear program and relations with the Palestinians — appear to be at odds with the Israeli government, and critics here fear the appointment could increase pressure on the Jewish state to make unwanted concessions. The appointment could also signal further strains in what is already a cool relationship between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to win re-election later this month.

“Because of his statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel, we are worried,” Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of the Israeli parliament and a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, told The Associated Press. But, he added, the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Israel is strong and “one person doesn’t determine policy.”

Netanyahu’s office refused to comment on the appointment, as did officials in the Israeli foreign and defense ministries. But Rivlin’s comments reflected what has been a common sentiment among analysts and commentators here in recent days. In their evening news broadcasts, Israel’s three main TV stations on Monday all portrayed Hagel as cool toward Israel.

It’s an odd situation when a long-time antagonist and one of the worst state sponsors of terrorism feels more cheered by a Defense Department nomination than a long-time ally.  In my column today for The Week, I argue that the Senate should be less concerned about Hagel’s inflammatory comments and more about his fringe approach to foreign policy — especially on Iran.  In fact, the real question isn’t Hagel, but what kind of message Barack Obama is sending to Iran with his nomination:

It’s puzzling enough to see how this kind of confirmation hearing benefits Obama, with all of these questions about Hagel’s past. The better questions, though, should focus on Hagel’s future in a potential conflict, for which a secretary of defense must prepare. One of the potential conflicts on the horizon is with Iran over its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and on a somewhat less-acute plane, its support for terrorist networks such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

And Hagel’s record on Iran may be even more suspect than in any other area. He has opposed sanctions on Iran since 2001, when he opposed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (which passed 96-2), intended to prevent funding for terrorism or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Five years later, with the Iranian nuclear program exposed, Hagel gave a speech in Pakistan declaring that “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” On at least three subsequent occasions, Hagel voted against or blocked sanctions or terror designations on Iran, all of which enjoyed wide bipartisan support.

With that in mind, what kind of signal does a Hagel nomination as the steward of American military send? Supposedly, Obama had repented of his 2008 comment that Iran was “tiny” and didn’t pose a “serious threat” to the United States. He has tried to give the impression that he learned a lesson from the weak response to the Green Revolution in 2009, and that he supported tough sanctions and a strong effort to stop the Iranian nuclear program. By naming a sanctions skeptic who also opposes the only other option to stop Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction to run the Pentagon, the future of the U.S. effort to contain Iran looks very much in doubt.

That should have supporters of Israel more worried than a remark about a “Jewish lobby” and a gay ambassador. In fact, it should have all of us worried about more than just Chuck Hagel, too, and prompt questions about Barack Obama’s intentions on Iran and security in the Middle East.

Here’s the question Hagel’s record poses for Obama after nominating this fringe voice on security: If sanctions are unacceptable and a military response is “not a viable, feasible, responsible option,” then how exactly do Obama and Hagel expect to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons?


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Comment pages: 1 2

then how exactly do Obama and Hagel expect to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons?

They don’t.

Grease Containment is the word, is the word, is the word…

Resist We Much on January 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM

They are not dummies. Their brother Obama is doing them another big favor. They’re just dumb in cheering pubicly.

Schadenfreude on January 8, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Point to one.

Dante on January 8, 2013 at 1:16 PM

I find it funny that you demand answers to meaningless questions, nit pick answers, narrow and expand the meaningless questions’ meanings all to claim you haven”t recieved an answer to a side bar bullsh!t question.

You don’t do a good job at answering questions yourself, Sport.

You seem bent on interventionalism. Can you tell me why it matters at all whether anyone here is against interventionalism? And why is it narrowed down to Iran only? Was that on Soledad’s show this morning?

I personally do not believe in intervening in another country’s affairs unless provoked. I think the whole idea of national soveriegnty and living in one’s country as one chooses is vital to all mankind. There are times when jumping into another’s fight is foolish, other times it is the least of evils.

I believe my personal world paradign to be consistant with reality and that my beliefs are consistant with that paradigm. I also believe my thoughts inside that paradigm are internally consistent.

I enjoy debate because I seek to validate or refute my thoughts and beliefs on those subjects and change my paradigm accordingly.

You are not an unintelligent person, but I confess I get little from this type of rhetorical banter. Playing word games does nothing for the discussion or for my understanding of the world. It leads sometimes to insights into the thought processes of those who view the world in a different light than I, but it usually just reinforces my existing opinions of them and the veracity of thier beliefs.

Clearly, you and I are here for different purposes.

Gotta take off now, but will check for any replies later.

Ciao.

ROCnPhilly on January 8, 2013 at 2:11 PM

I find it funny that you demand answers to meaningless questions, nit pick answers, narrow and expand the meaningless questions’ meanings all to claim you haven”t recieved an answer to a side bar bullsh!t question.

You don’t do a good job at answering questions yourself, Sport.

You seem bent on interventionalism. Can you tell me why it matters at all whether anyone here is against interventionalism? And why is it narrowed down to Iran only? Was that on Soledad’s show this morning?

I personally do not believe in intervening in another country’s affairs unless provoked. I think the whole idea of national soveriegnty and living in one’s country as one chooses is vital to all mankind. There are times when jumping into another’s fight is foolish, other times it is the least of evils.

I believe my personal world paradign to be consistant with reality and that my beliefs are consistant with that paradigm. I also believe my thoughts inside that paradigm are internally consistent.

I enjoy debate because I seek to validate or refute my thoughts and beliefs on those subjects and change my paradigm accordingly.

You are not an unintelligent person, but I confess I get little from this type of rhetorical banter. Playing word games does nothing for the discussion or for my understanding of the world. It leads sometimes to insights into the thought processes of those who view the world in a different light than I, but it usually just reinforces my existing opinions of them and the veracity of thier beliefs.

Clearly, you and I are here for different purposes.

Gotta take off now, but will check for any replies later.

Ciao.

ROCnPhilly on January 8, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Look, you made a claim; I am simply asking you to point to evidence. So far, you haven’t done so. You have a funny idea of funny. This isn’t word games; this is you making a claim and my asking you to back it up.

You said, “you received plenty of responses proving there are conservatives who don’t always support interventionalism.”

I didn’t ask you to point to plenty of responses; I asked you to point to one. You made the claim, shouldn’t be too hard to do since there are “plenty of responses”.

Dante on January 8, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Here’s the question Hagel’s record poses for Obama after nominating this fringe voice on security: If sanctions are unacceptable and a military response is “not a viable, feasible, responsible option,” then how exactly do Obama and Hagel expect to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons?

Look at the establishment casting non-approved views as “fringe”.

Dante on January 8, 2013 at 3:19 PM

then how exactly do Obama and Hagel expect to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons?

They don’t.

Containment is the word, is the word, is the word…

Hmmm, I suspect they don’t even consider containment at all. We’ve got nukes, so its only fair that Iran, since it has the capability and desire to produce them, should have them. Barry and Co. expect the Iranians to be, uh, judicious and restrained in the management of nukes once Iran has them. Strictly for defense, of course.

hawkeye54 on January 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM

how exactly do Obama and Hagel expect to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons?

They have no intention of doing so. Obama only hopes to delay it for another future president to deal with. Just like everything else.

President Kick-The-Can has spoke and you serfs better wise up and quit making noise.

ButterflyDragon on January 8, 2013 at 4:45 PM

They have no intention of doing so. Obama only hopes to delay it for another future president to deal with. Just like everything else.

President Kick-The-Can has spoke and you serfs better wise up and quit making noise.

ButterflyDragon on January 8, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Well, they could begin by ending our warfare against Iran and quit having their surrogates go on television and openly discuss bombing Iran.

Dante on January 8, 2013 at 4:59 PM

…are those two groping each other in that picture?

KOOLAID2 on January 8, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Comment pages: 1 2