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Robert Reich: The Neocons vs. Chuck Hagel

January 17, 2013

The neocons hate Chuck Hagel. That's a sign he's qualified for the job.

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Image from Flickr via Mr. Brown

By Robert Reich
By arrangement with Robert Reich.

If the neocons in the GOP who brought us the Iraqi war and conjured up “weapons of mass destruction” to justify it are against Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, Hagel gets bonus points in my book.

They’re the hawkish, bellicose bunch in the Republican Party—William Kristol, Richard Perle, and Elliott Abrams—who shaped Dick Cheney’s and Don Rumsfeld’s disastrous foreign policy.

These are also the people who have supported Israel’s rightward lurch in recent years. They don’t want a two-state solution. They eschew any possibility of talks with Hamas or Iran. They favor building more settlements in the West Bank.

Yes, it was dumb for Hagel to use the term “Jewish lobby” instead of “Israel lobby,” but that alone shouldn’t disqualify him. Everyone in official Washington knows how much power is wielded in that city by the Sheldon Adelsons of American politics who think Israel can do no wrong.

The problem is Washington pays too little attention to the large number of Americans—Jewish and non-Jewish—who think Israel is doing a lot that’s wrong, and worry that the path it’s on threatens its long-term survival.

The real question is what Hagel believes about the appropriate use of American power.

That the neocons hate him is the best sign yet that Chuck Hagel may be the right person for the job.

By arrangement with Robert Reich.

Author Image

Robert B. Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.

Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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