The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Hagel Hearings Lessons: Iraq "Surge"; Israel's Primacy


Parry is editor of and his most recent book is America's Stolen Narrative. He recently wrote the piece "The Iraq War 'Surge' Myth Returns," which states: "At confirmation hearings for Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel, Official Washington will reprise one of its favorite myths, the story of the 'successful surge' in Iraq. Politicians and pundits have made clear that the Senate Armed Services Committee should hector Hagel over his opposition to President George W. Bush's 2007 'surge' of 30,000 troops into that failed war. ...

"Any serious analysis of what happened in Iraq in 2007-08 would trace the decline in Iraqi sectarian violence mostly to strategies that predated the 'surge' and were implemented by the U.S. commanding generals in 2006, George Casey and John Abizaid, who wanted as small a U.S. 'footprint' as possible to tamp down Iraqi nationalism. ...

"The hard truth is that this bloody folly was not 'salvaged' by the 'surge' despite what the likes of Michael O'Hanlon, George F. Will and John McCain claim. The "surge" simply extended the killing for a few more years and bought Bush and Cheney their 'decent interval.'" Hagel was indeed forcefully questioned about the "surge" by Sen. John McCain.

Late Thursday, Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post tweeted: "At Hagel hearing, 136 mentions of Israel and 135 of Iran. Only 27 refs to Afghanistan. 2 for Al Qaida. 1 for Mali."

Weiss is co-editor of, and just wrote the piece "Hagel Offers Himself as Secretary of Israel's Defense," which states: "The most urgent questions were about Israel, and many came from liberal Democrats insisting that Hagel is pledged to going to war against Iran if it acquires a nuclear weapon.

"Hagel was suitably craven. 'I've said that I'm a strong supporter of Israel. .. I've said that we have a special relationship with Israel. ... I've never voted against Israel in my career. ... I've been to Israel many times,' he told Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

"While Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made no bones about 'the most urgent issues -- Israel and Israel's security issues. ... We are fundamentally tied to [Israel]." Then Gillibrand demanded that if there has to be a continuing resolution in the event of a budget crunch, Hagel's Pentagon will take pains to keep money going to Israel for its Iron Dome missile defense.

"Does she believe this or is this just now the religion of Washington?

"Hagel repeatedly asserted that he regards Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Revolutionary Guard of Iran as terrorist organizations. He abandoned every bold stand he has taken on Israel. ...

"But the most revealing part of the spectacle was watching Hagel stand up to John McCain when McCain said he had been wrong to oppose the Iraq surge in 2007 and the Afghanistan surge in 2009 -- and then watching Hagel fold pathetically when Lindsey Graham asked him to condemn Israeli settlements."

Also yesterday, Reuters reported: "U.N. human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes."

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