The Corner

Klein: ‘Israel Lobby’ Opposes ‘Mainstream Moderate’ Hagel, Endangering Iran Deal

On Face the Nation this morning, Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) confirmed that he will not vote for Chuck Hagel if the former Nebraska senator is nominated for Secretary of Defense. Coburn said he finds some of Hagel’s stamements and positions disturbing (he didn’t expand on which, but there is a bounty from which to choose), but that’s not all:

COBURN: That’s not the only reason to disqualify him. He does not have the experience to manage a very large organization like the Pentagon. And we’ve actually had — I think Leon Panetta has done a wonderful job. I supported his nomination. He did have a lot of experience prior to coming here. And if there’s a place we need great management, it’s the Pentagon, and a great manager.

Interestingly, Coburn’s co-panelist and colleague Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) would not go so far as to say he’d support Hagel himself, offering only that the Vietnam vet Hagel is a “patriot” who deserves a fair hearing.

Meanwhile, Joe Klein of Time offered his own theory for why a Hagel nomination would be in trouble: the dread “Israel Lobby.” Klein warns that should Hagel not become SecDef, it will “empower” the “neoconservatives”, and endanger the nuclear deal with Iran that could otherwise come this year.

KLEIN: I think the Hagel nomination signifies a much larger fight. Most of the opposition is coming from the Israel lobby, not to put too fine a point on it. They are upset about statements he’s made in the past which i think are fairly moderate, mainstream statements but they don’t like it. AIPAC has been out there make phone calls against him. i think if the president gives in on this, if he nominates Hagel — and Hagel is still a possibility as far as i understand from the White House — if he gives in on this, it’s going to empower neoconservatives who have been wrong with everything in foreign policy for the last decade, when it comes to making a deal with Iran later in the year, which is a real possibility. They’re going to try and block any kind of arrangement that we make in terms of a nuclear deal.

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