Humility is an act of strength, not a sign of weakness, because it reflects confidence in the future more than a fear enslaved by the past. Isn't that, after all, what America should be most about? And if humility was good enough for Jesus, as the Pope is helping us to remember, then shouldn't it also be good enough for us?
Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Baghdad to ask the Iraqi government to stop helping Iran support Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Kerry received an embarrassing rebuff--so much for the Bush administration's celebrated victory over Saddam Hussein. This time ten years ago the grand Iraqi cakewalk had begun. American military forces were racing toward victory. The world was going to be transformed. But not in the way President George W. Bush and his top officials imagined. Invading Iraq turned out to be one of Washington's greatest strategic mistakes. Yet even now many of the Iraq War's architects are clamoring for more wars. America needs peace. War should be a true last resort, not just another policy option for frustrated social engineers and impatient internationalists. Wars are sometimes tragically necessary. But not in Iraq.
On the decennial of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the persons responsible have shown remarkably little guilt over launching an unprovoked war of aggression, even when the lamentable results might be expected to give one pause to rethink the enterprise.
Politically, the faux fight over Hagel's nomination has dramatically shown a Republican Party in complete disarray, in the midst of their own civil war. On one hand, there are some Republican senators who, today, put the nation above politics and refused to engage in sliming a great American veteran. On the other hand, there is an increasingly shrill fringe right who, in conjunction with the same neoconservatives who led us into Iraq, continue to show that they will put anything -- even American security -- below their own self-aggrandizement and continued campaign to oppose anything the Obama administration says or does.
Chuck Hagel's nomination as secretary of defense brought two old issues to the forefront -- the Iraq war and U.S.-Israeli relations. Beneath the ankle biting lies a significant competition over U.S. grand strategy.
It is the death throes of the neoconservatives' hold on United States foreign policy that makes the confirmation of Hagel and the installation of the Biden-Kerry-Hagel team so critically important for the United States and the world.
A funny thing happened at the Senate Armed Services Committee vote on Chuck Hagel, this week. Senator Ted Cruz, who is quickly making a name for himself as a modern-day Joe McCarthy, turned a normal committee vote into his own personal circus, making outlandish smear after outlandish smear against Chuck Hagel that earned the ire not just of senators in the room, but Capitol Hill newspapers, national media, and even his home state newspaper. Thing of it is, Cruz knows very well who his base is: The increasingly shrill far right, which want to see vicious opposition to anything President Obama says, does, or proposes. People have joked, with some degree of truth, that if President Obama came out against drinking Drano, Tea Party Congressmen and senators would immediately go out and chug gallons of it.
The hysterics of neoconservative senators has become a cacophony that's pretty similar to a room full of children. It's a series of tantrums that clearly shows they are losing, badly.
While it's probably not a saying the president uses, Hagel is his choice, come hell or high water. Obama's getting more than a little of both in the bargain. He's going to get Hagel, too. But not thanks to Hagel's public performance skills.
The lesson of Vietnam is not that the United States should never go to war. It's that war is a last resort to be used only when there's a damn good reason and peaceful options have been exhausted.
While recognizing that war can be necessary, Chuck Hagel understands -- out of both personal experience and practical consequence -- that war is best avoided, if possible. Unlike the war-happy neocons, he sees military force as a last resort.
As a Jew, a conservative, and strong supporter of Israel, I have made the same criticism repeatedly myself over the past 40 years and would be loathe to castigate Hagel for it. At the same time, his voting record as a senator demonstrates unwavering support for Israel.
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.
Conservatives have consistently glorified military service, as they should. But now, as Obama nominates a man who has served honorably in combat in Vietnam, the "Hagel Haters," -- many "chicken hawks" themselves -- are disingenuously changing their tune.
Any reasonable person would look at this growing phenomenon and conclude that we've reached an ugly new level of prejudice against religious minorities in this country. But not Jonathan Schanzer.
In Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, President Obama is bringing aboard one man who opposed the surge in Afghanistan, and has long called for a drawdown, and another who quickly realized the surge was not a success, and called for a shift in strategy.