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Why do the neoconservatives loathe Chuck Hagel?

Because the mere mention of his name reminds them and everyone else that they were wrong about the invasion of Iraq, something most of them still deny and the rest try to forget. The few who admit they were mistaken usually claim that no blame attaches to their error because it was universal: everyone of any importance was wrong, so no one was wrong to be wrong. Conversely, if someone was right, that just proves that he wasn't someone of importance: why else would his objections at the time have been so easily ignored? Or it proves he secretly wanted Bush's foreign policy to fail. Hence the distasteful Schadenfreude when things fell apart.

So, in review, the only way to have been right about Iraq was either (1) to have been a no-one, beneath notice, or (2) to have been right for the wrong reasons (e.g. because of insufficient indignation at "Islamofascism" or latent anti-Semitism or cynical Realpolitik). It being impossible to deny that Senator Hagel was someone of importance when he opposed the war in Iraq, only one kind of explanation is left. The discredited must try to make him look dishonorable. This also explains why the Washington Post, a guardian of conventional wisdom (and in this case one of its parents), is desperately casting about for reasons to oppose Hagel's nomination.

About the Author

Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.



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The neocons are a blatantly awful group. But what is most disturbing is how they were able to convince so many moderates that they were right to invade Iraq. Today the vast majority of those moderates don't want to hear about their umongus error and lack of courage. In today's New York Times show how those devious hawks are unrepentant. Only Powell had the guts to admit he was duped. Neuhaus, Weigel and Novak were among the hawks. Who along with Kristol, were the first to blame the Bush administration when things went wrong. is so galling is that none of these warmongers served in the military. Nor did they send their children. Hagel stands high in contrast to these bellicose malefactors.

Matthew Boudway:Oh, I'm always slavering about someone or something; possibly it's a medical condition. Did Hagel actually say that the Palestinians were slavering? That's awesome! Where did you hear that?Bill: I owe you an apology about implying you were an absolute pacifist. And so I do. Do you find it more convenient to be a relative pacifist (if that is the correct term)? It does provide a wide area of wiggle room; you can adjust your attacks to be congruent with whatever the current politically correct stance is on any issue. Just kidding! ;))

Fine post, Matthew. There's nothing like getting down to rock-bottom basics. The WaPo editorial is so obviously self-contradictory one wonders what is going on in its upstairs offices.

The Times' article that Bill Mazzella cites is quite interesting, capturing both the policy and personal animus the neo-cons have against Hagel, including his pungent point that many of them had never served in the military. When those who are most gung-ho for war come to be called "chicken hawks," they are not going to easily forgive or forget. In that sense, John McCain has some credentials, if not reasons, for his criticisms of Hegel. I suspect he will vote for Hagel.The Times' article was very well done. So knowledgeable that I suspected Jim Rutenberg, the reporter, may have been following this story for a long time; one of the benefits of seasoned journalists.

NeoCons loathe folks like Chuck Hagel because he pulls back the curtain to reveal who is making all those bombastic warlike sounds and noises.

To Chicken hawks add Pat Buchanan . droped out of ROTC then claimed 'arthritis' for 4f status.Then pose as tough guy for a living.

What probably irks the pro-war people most is that we now know that their argument for war was not just wrong; it was dishonest, or at least recklessly indifferent to the truth.The most compelling element in the case for war was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which he might give to terrorists. But weapons inspectors had been in Iraq searching for them, and they were reporting no success in finding them. There was real danger that someone would begin to ask whether they were not finding weapons because there were no weapons to find. Then the Bush Administration insisted that the inspectors had to leave, so that the war could begin immediately. And what reason did they offer for calling off the search? They said that our troops, who were already in Kuwait, must launch the invasion in March because they would not be able to stand up to the ferocious heat of a Middle Eastern summer. So the war began with a casual insult to our own soldiers, who went on to endure nine such summers.In this matter, I have been content for nearly a decade to be a no-one, beneath notice. Lowliness has its compensations. For one thing it means that I don't have to hate Chuck Hagel.

I oppose Hagel because he looks like a professional mourner who didn't get paid. In addition, he seems to hate Israel and love the slavering hoard of anti-Semites (AKA "Palestinians") who want to wipe Israel off the map (Israel is a "cancer" don't you know). I give him credit for his military service (by the way Bill Mazzella, I thought you were a pacifist - what's all this celebratory razz about Hegel's military service. You think that's a good thing? Seriously?), but other than that he's just plain wrong in his stance on Israel. Hegel, support Israel or get lost.

Bob Schwartz, produce evidence for your claims about Hagel's failure to support Israel, or get lost. Did he say that Israel was a "cancer"? No, of course not. But your comment implies it. It also implies that all Palestinians are anti-Semites, and that they are a "slavering hoard." If someone wrote that way about the Israelis you would be slavering yourself.

Before getting on a high horse, it should be pointed out that Sen. Hagel did in fact vote to authorize the war in Iraq. Also, speaking of being being "wrong" about Iraq, Hagel also subscribed to the idea that the war in Iraq was a "war for oil" (, which is demonstrably false.If you want to know why neoconservatives loathe Hagel it is because he attributes the basest motives to his country's actions, that he himself supported.

Why, in God's name (srsly) are progressives defending Chuck Hagel? This is the best you can do? A guy who volunteered for the rape of Vietnam? after half a century of possible reflection? and this is considered a strength?Go ahead, burn with Hagel and the enabler-in-chief, President Barak Obama.

I'm not a neocon but I too wonder why there is such for Hagel among liberals. Is not wanting to bomb Iran so important that it overturns other concerns? He seems a mixed bag at best to me.

meant 'such support'

Brian,It is possible to believe that the Vietnam War was a military and moral disaster for the United States without accusing an enlisted man who served there in his early twenties of volunteering for the rape of Vietnam, a charge that is intemperate, smug with hindsight, and disgusting.

I wish the anti-assassination lobby had a fraction of the clout of the Israeli lobby. Then we might be arguing about the appointment to the CIA job of the public face of the policy that holds that the president of the United States can kill anyone he wishes to, anytime, anyplace without prior review by the courts, without notification of Congress before or after the fact and without unseemly public discussion.The self-important, as Matthew correctly identifies them, dominate the day instead, and the "debate" about Chuck Hagel is another of their shambolic distractions. A long procession of people, many of them honorable, have attempted to lead the Pentagon through the years. A few even won some skirmishes. But the mindset of the military-industrial complex snaps back like a closing door when they move on. So it will be with Chuck Hagel. Meanwhile, the United States will continue to lead the world in authorized presidential executions.

Charles Pierce recently reprinted Hagel's entire statement prior to his vote in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq. It makes for strange reading, in that it lists a number of very sound reasons for voting 'no' before reaching its conclusion -- it reads as though someone swapped out the last couple of paragraphs at the last moment. As for the war-for-oil remarks (demonstrably false or otherwise), the trouble with summoning moral outrage over such a viewpoint is that so many other people not yet hated by the neocons are similarly guilty. Here's an amusing round-up of some of the other people Bill Kristol must consider beyond the pale.The Washington Post's shameless self-contradiction is amazing. Even for the Washington Post.

Bob Schwartz, I am not an absolute pacifist as I believe it is necessary to defend oneself. Otherwise no society can exist. But it is always important to understand that most wars are acts of greed and attempts to enhance the aggressor. This is why Francis of Asissi embraced poverty since the desire for possessions causes war. As with most of us Hagel has a development is his thinking. The war in Iraq conflicted many liberals. A wave of sentiment characterizing a vote against the Iraq invasion as unpatriotic could be compelling. Waving the flag can result in terrible decisions. Eisenhower, who directed one of the most brutal invasions in history became an ardent person of peace.

The claim has been made and the question asked why are "liberals" and/or "progressives" supporting Hagel. We might well ask, as Matthew has, why "conservatives," and "neo-conservatives" are opposing him. The implications of both questions are that he is probably not qualified to become Secretary of Defense. The latter question could be tested by looking at the last several SoD: (Here's Wiki: ).He's at least as qualified as Gates and looks far less crazed than Rumsfeld.But to the main question with two theses:1. The United States is still in turmoil over Vietnam; there is no settled view among political types about its justifications, actions, or outcomes. Hagel is a stand in for the liberal critique of the war; William Kristol et al. are a stand in for the neo-cons and cons support of the war (though to be accurate, back in the sixties, some of these folks were liberals and critical of the war).2. The fight over the Hagel nomination is a stand in for a debate that Washington political types don't want to have, namely U.S. policies in the Middle East with a particular focus on the Israeli governments vis a vis the West Bank and Israel's relationships with its neighbors. Some liberals (including Jews) want the U.S. to take a critical look at that; Cons and neo-cons (including Jews) want to maintains the status quo. The fight is most ferocious within the U.S. Jewish community. The hearings into Hagel's nomination and the outcome may well give a decided push in one direction or another. I do not think Hagel's confirmations is a forgone conclusions. See this NYTimes story about NY Senator Charles Schumer:

Margaret has it about right.. and as for progressives liking Hagel, we fall back to Middle Eastern tactic.. 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' ...and Hagel/Obama will win confirmation unless some Senate Dems want to jump over the cliff with the Kristol/ Buchanan and the Fox News crowd.

Margaret: You omitted a category in your previous post. A majority of liberals (including Jews) also want to maintain the status quo with respect to supporting Israel or want the U.S. to be even more supportive. And the American people as a whole support Israel by a 5 to 1 margin over the Palestinians, whereas in 1978 they supported it only by about a 3-1 margin. Their "critical" look at the situation arrives at very different conclusions than your "critical" look would. See the Pew poll released on January 8, 2013.

I am responding to Ed Gleason's slander of Pat Buchanan. Buchanan's classification as 4 F was entirely legitimate, as his biographer Tim Stanley makes clear. More to the point, Buchanan was a staunch opponent of both the Iraq War and Desert Storm. He is an opponent of American military action against Iran. In fact, he has consistently (and presciently) opposed American military action since the end of the Cold War.

Brian: enlighten us with your military service history. I thought so.

Thorin say Slander? His biographer makes clear? just like mommy and daddy? Buchanan shares no service , a draft dodger status with, Bill O'Reilly, Bernie Goldberg, Brit Hume, Bill all in the FOX news 'business' .What say their biographers?? All were age eligible for Vietnam all were no servers. And Yet ...They Have the chutzpah to critique fellow GOPer like Hagel's and Colin Powell's military credentials..That they can show their face in public shows that they have no shame.

Mr. Gleason:I don't know why you hate Pat Buchanan so much, but you clearly do. Buchanan was diagnosed with Reiter's syndrome and suffered very painful arthritis for two decades. It wasn't a made up diagnosis, nor was it related to Vietnam, since Buchanan was diagnosed with Reiter's Syndrome in 1959, before the escalation of our involvement in Vietnam.You also seem to be unclear as to Buchanan's positions. Far from criticizing Hagel's appointment, he is supporting it. He also opposed Desert Storm and the Iraq War and is opposed to American military action against Iran. You don't seem to be aware of any of this, but you can easily look it up.

Why do you claim I 'hate Buchanan'? I find his fake bravado over the years amusing ..If he has arthritis I can say with certainty it has not effected his jaw bone.

I wonder if Buchanan, when faced with a situation in which he was forced to defend himself, would throw up his hands and cry: "But I can't ... I have Reiter's Syndrome!"

Hey Jim, "tough guy' Buchanan assaulted a policeman after given a traffic ticket. he was arrested and the good Jesuits threw him out of Georgetown for year in response. He has been against the Government ever since, even when he was on WH payroll.

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