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Chuck Hagel Nomination Highlights the Right's Fantasy World


Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator set to be nominated the next US defense secretary, is a decorated Vietnam veteran who will bring a skeptical eye to military intervention as well as to the Pentagon's budget.

The battle over the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary is coming to a close tomorrow, as the Senate hearings on his confirmation begin. And in recent weeks, as those hearings grew closer, the right-wing showed just how delusional it can be.

The latest example: neoconservative Kenneth Timmerman writing today in the Washington Times that “the Iranian rulers love Chuck Hagel.” Timmerman also writes that he is “Tehran’s best friend in Washington.” That line is part and parcel of the larger smear campaign waged ever since Hagel’s name was floated. Neoconservatives like Bill Kristol have accused Hagel of being "pro-appeasement of Iran.”

Timmerman’s column offers no evidence for his assertions, as is to be expected. But it’s a useful window into how the right is trying to torpedo Hagel’s nomination.

The reason why Hagel is being smeared as an “appeaser” of Iran is because he has voiced mild skepticism over how U.S. policy towards the country has been conducted. In the past, he has been skeptical of unilateral U.S. sanctions on the country and has cautioned against hastily rushing into a military attack. But he has also backtracked on many of his heterodox positions. The backtracking is the price Hagel had to pay to get nominated in the face of vociferous opposition from neoconservatives like Timmerman.

And even if Hagel hadn’t backtracked, the line that he is a “friend” of Iran is out of left field. Hagel supports international sanctions against Iran and has also left open the possibility that a military attack might be needed. Those are not positions Tehran’s “best friend” would take.

Other neoconservative have gone even further than Timmerman and Kristol. For instance, Frank Gaffney, peddler of Islamophobia and a former Reagan official, suggested that Hagel could be an “Iranian agent.”

Perhaps once Hagel is confirmed, we can ignore these silly smears. And that’s the main reason I’m looking forward to the end of the battle over Hagel.

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