Hagel Didn’t Start the Fire

Hagle Didn't Start the Fire

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran and the lone Republican on Obama’s national security team, has been fired.

And John McCain’s assessment is dead on.

Hagel, he said, “was never really brought into that real tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions which has put us into the incredible debacle that we’re in today throughout the world.”

Undeniably, U.S. foreign policy is in a shambles. But what were the “decisions” that produced the “incredible debacle”?

Who made them? Who supported them?

The first would be George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, a war for which Sens. John McCain, Joe Biden, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all voted. At least Sen. Hagel admitted he made a mistake on that vote.

With our invasion, we dethroned Saddam and destroyed his Sunni Baathist regime. And today the Islamic State, a barbaric offshoot of al-Qaida, controls Mosul, Anbar and the Sunni third of Iraq.

Kurdistan is breaking away. And a Shia government in Baghdad, closely tied to Tehran and backed by murderous anti-American Shia militias, controls the rest. Terrorism is a daily occurrence.

Such is the condition of the nation which we were promised would become a model of democracy for the Middle East after a “cake-walk war.” The war lasted eight years for us, and now we are going back — to prevent a catastrophe.

A second decision came in 2011, when a rebellion arose against Bashar Assad in Syria, and we supported and aided the uprising. Assad must go, said Obama. McCain and the neocons agreed.

Now ISIS and al-Qaida are dominant from Aleppo to the Iraqi border with Assad barely holding the rest, while the rebels we urged to rise and overthrow the regime are routed or in retreat.

Had Assad fallen, had we bombed his army last year, as Obama, Kerry and McCain wanted to do, and brought down his regime, ISIS and al-Qaida might be in Damascus today. And America might be facing a decision either to invade or tolerate a terrorist regime in the heart of the Middle East.

Lest we forget, Vladimir Putin pulled our chestnuts out of the fire a year ago, with a brokered deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons.

The Turks, Saudis and Gulf Arabs who aided ISIS’ rise are having second thoughts, but sending no Saudi or Turkish troops to dislodge it.

So the clamor arises anew for U.S. “boots on the ground” to reunite the nations that the wars and revolutions we supported tore apart.

A third decision was the U.S.-NATO war on Col. Gadhafi’s Libya.

After deceiving the Russians by assuring them we wanted Security Council support for the use of air power simply to prevent a massacre in Benghazi, we bombed for half a year, and brought down Gadhafi.

Now we have on the south shore of the Mediterranean a huge failed state and strategic base camp for Islamists and terrorists who are spreading their poison into sub-Sahara Africa.

The great triumphs of Reagan and Bush 41 were converting Russia into a partner, and presiding over the liberation of Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the old Soviet Union into 15 independent nations.

Unfulfilled by such a victory for peace and freedom, unwilling to go home when our war, the Cold War, was over, Bush 43 decided to bring the entire Warsaw Pact, three Baltic states, and Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. For this project, Bush had the enthusiastic support of McCain, the neocons and the liberal interventionists.

Since 1991, we sought to cut the Russians out of the oil and gas of the Caspian basin with a pipeline through the Caucasus to Turkey, bombed Serbia to tear off its cradle province of Kosovo, and engineered color-coded revolutions in Belgrade, Tbilisi and other capitals to pull these new nations out of Russia’s sphere of influence.

Victoria Nuland of State and McCain popped up in Maidan Square in Kiev, backing demonstrations to bring down the democratically elected (if, admittedly, incompetent) regime in Ukraine.

The U.S.-backed coup succeeded. President Viktor Yanukovych fled, a pro-Western regime was installed, and a pro-Western president elected.

Having taken all this from his partner, Putin retrieved the Crimea and Russia’s Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol. When pro-Russia Ukrainians rose against the beneficiaries of the coup in Kiev, he backed his team, as we backed ours.

Now, we are imposing sanctions, driving Russia further from the West and into a realliance with Beijing, with which Putin has completed two long-term deals for oil and gas running over $700 billion dollars.

As the U.S. and NATO send planes, ships and troops to show our seriousness in the Baltic and Ukraine, Russian planes and ships test Western defenses from Finland to Sweden to Portugal to Alaska and the coast of the continental United States.

Who made these decisions that created the debacle?

Was it those isolationists again?

To Defeat the Islamic State

To Defeat the Islamic State

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The decisions that determined the fate of the great nations and empires that failed to survive the 20th century are well known.

For the Kaiser’s Germany, it was the “blank cheque” to Austria after Sarajevo. For Great Britain, the 1939 war guarantee to Poland. For the Third Reich, it was the June 1941 invasion of Russia. For the Empire of the Sun, the decision to attack Pearl Harbor.

And for the Soviet Empire, it was the invasion of Afghanistan.

As for the United States, historians may one day concur with the late Gen. Bill Odom. For the lone superpower to survive that century, the decision to invade and occupy Iraq was the most disastrous blunder in its history.

George W. Bush held out the promise of a peaceful Mesopotamian democracy as a magnet for all Arab nations. What we produced is a broken land awash in blood, a country severed by tribe and faith: a Kurdish north, Shia south and a Sunni west controlled by the savages of an “Islamic State” even al-Qaida hates and fears.

In Syria, where the United States has been aiding rebels to bring down Bashar Assad, that Islamic State now controls the northern and eastern half of the country. In Libya, where we delivered the air and missile strikes to smash Col. Gadhafi’s forces, Islamist fanatics have gained the upper hand in the civil war for control of that country.

In all three countries, the United States, which claimed to be battling dictatorship to bring democracy, helped to create the power vacuum these Islamists have moved to fill.

We are the enablers of the Islamic State.

How grave is the threat?

ISIS is a “direct threat to our homeland” says Rep. Peter King. “An existential threat” echoes Sen. Lindsey Graham, “I think of an American city in flames.”

The Islamic State “is beyond anything we’ve seen,” says Sec. Chuck Hagel, an “imminent threat to every interest we have.”

America is “in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in,” says Sen. Jim Inhofe, “They’re crazy out there. And they are rapidly developing a method to blow up a major U.S. city.”

Undeniably, these are bloodthirsty religious fanatics who revel in beheadings and crucifixions and have exhibited battlefield bravery and skill.

But are 17,000 jihadi fighters in landlocked regions of Iraq and Syria really an imminent and mortal threat to an America with thousands of nuclear weapons and tens of thousands of missiles and bombs and the means to deliver them?

How grave is this crisis? Consider the correlation of forces.

Who are the vocal and visible friends and fighting allies of ISIS?

They are nonexistent.

The Turks, Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis who, stupidly, have been aiding ISIS in bringing down Bashar Assad and blowing a hole in the “Shia Crescent” of Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Hezbollah, have lately awakened to their idiocy and are cutting off aid to ISIS.

Moderate Sunnis detest ISIS for its barbarism and desecration of shrines. The Christians and Yazidis fear and loathe them. The Kurds, both the Syrian YPG and PKK, which broke open the exit route for the Yazidis from Mount Sinjar, and the peshmerga despise ISIS.

Lebanon’s army, Syria’s army, Hezbollah and Iran have been fighting ISIS with Russian assistance. Vladimir Putin himself warned us of the absurdity of our attacking Assad last year, arguing that we would be allying ourselves with the same terrorists who brought down the twin towers.

Was Putin not right?

Even al-Qaida and Hamas have repudiated ISIS.

We need no boots on the ground in Syria, for it is the presence of “Crusaders” on Islamic soil that is the principal recruiting tool of the jihadists.

What we need is diplomacy beyond the simple-minded, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists!” a diplomacy that invites old enemies into a coalition for a cause on which we all agree.

If Assad is willing to go in for the kill on ISIS, let us work out a truce and amnesty for the Free Syrian Army and call off that part of the rebellion, so Assad’s army can focus on killing ISIS.

George H. W. Bush made an ally of Hafez al-Assad in Desert Storm.

Why not make an ally of his son against ISIS?

We should next tell the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis that any more aid to ISIS and they are on their own. We should inform the Turks that their continued membership in NATO is contingent upon sealing their border to ISIS volunteers and their assistance in eradicating the terrorist organization.

We should convey to Iran that an end to our cold war is possible if all attacks on the West stop and we work together to exterminate the Islamic State. Why would they not take the deal?

As for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed successor to Muhammad, my bet is that he closes out his brief career as caliph at an unscheduled meeting with Seal Team 6.

War Hero or Deserter?

War Hero or Deserter?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“We needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life.”

So said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, an Army sergeant in Vietnam, of Barack Obama’s trade of five hard-core Taliban leaders at Guantanamo for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a Taliban prisoner for five years.

The trade speaks well of America’s ‘s resolve to leave no soldier behind. And the country surely shared the joy of Bergdahl’s family on learning their son was alive and coming home.

But this secret swap, as well as the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture and captivity, are likely to further polarize our people and poison our politics.

First, the price the Taliban extorted from us is high. We could be seeing these killers again on a battlefield after their year’s detention in Qatar. Other Americans may have to suffer and perhaps die for our having freed these five from Guantanamo.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar is proclaiming a “big victory” over the Americans, and it is a morale boost for the Taliban we are fighting.

As for the Afghan government, it was kept in the dark.

The message received in Kabul must be: The Americans are taking care of their own, cutting deals behind our back at our expense, packing up, going home. We cannot rely on them. We are on our own.

But as for the claim that we “never negotiate with terrorists,” it is not as though we have not been down this road before.

During Korea, we negotiated for a truce and return of our POWs with the same Chinese Communists who had tortured and brainwashed them. During Vietnam we negotiated for the return of our POWs with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong who massacred 3,000 civilians in Hue in the Tet Offensive.

Jimmy Carter negotiated with the Ayatollah’s regime to get our embassy hostages out of Iran. The Iran-Contra scandal was about Ronald Reagan’s decision to send TOW missiles secretly to Iran, for Iran’s aid in getting hostages released by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Bibi Netanyahu today insists that America not recognize a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas, for Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction.

Yet Bibi released 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011, many of them guilty of atrocities, in exchange for a single Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza, Pvt. Gilad Shalit.

Yasser Arafat, Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela were all once declared to be terrorists heading up terrorist organizations — the PLO, the Irgun and the ANC.

And all three have something else in common: All became winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Today’s terrorist may be tomorrow’s statesman. The remains of Lenin and Mao rest in honor in their capitals. Jomo Kenyatta, founding father of Kenya, was once the chieftain of the Mau Mau.

When it comes to negotiating with domestic hostage-takers, do we not, along with training SWAT teams to take them out, train men to negotiate with them? How many of us, with a family member held by a vicious criminal demanding ransom, would refuse to negotiate?

Yet, if those released Taliban are indeed “hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans … on their hands,” as John McCain charges, why were they not prosecuted and punished like the Nazis at Nuremberg?

America has sent a message to its enemies by trading five war criminals for Sergeant Bergdahl: The nation with a preponderance of the world’s hard power has a soft heart.

And though America rejoiced with the parents of Sgt. Bergdahl this weekend, other troubling issues have begun to be raised.

Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and “was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield.”

But is this true? His fellow soldiers say Bergdahl was not missing in action, and not wounded. Disillusioned with the war, he walked away from his post.

In an email to his parents three days before he went missing. Bergdahl wrote, “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools. … I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

For days, Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers were out searching for him, risking their lives to prevent his Taliban captors from taking him into Pakistan. U.S. soldiers may have been wounded and some may have died in the attempt to rescue their lost sergeant.

Did Sgt. Bergdahl defect, did he desert, did he collaborate with the enemy? We do not know. But these charges will have to be investigated.

For if they are not, or if they are proven true and Bergdahl evades all punishment, it would be a blow to Army morale and widen the gulf between the Army and commander in chief that was on display at West Point a week ago.

Sergeant Bergdahl, one suspects, is about to become a famous and representative figure of his country’s divisions in the Obama era.

Last Hurrah of the Interventionists?

Last Hurrah of the Interventionists

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In what a Washington Post columnist describes as a rout of Rand Paul isolationism, the Senate just voted overwhelmingly to send another $1.5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt.

The House voted 400-20 to impose new sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, two days before Iran’s new president, elected on a pledge to re-engage the West on the nuclear issue, takes his oath.

Do these triumphs of AIPAC and the War Party, of neocons and liberal internationalists, tell us where we are going? Or are they the last hurrahs of the interventionists, as America’s long retreat proceeds apace.

If we take what Richard Nixon called “the long view,” the trend line seems unmistakable. Under President Obama, America has pulled all U.S. forces out of Iraq and has scheduled a full withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.

Despite his “red line” in Syria having allegedly been crossed, and the cawing of Hill hawks like Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, Obama seems the very portrait of a reluctant warrior in Syria.

A large majority of Americans, too, want no part of that civil war.

On Iran, the Pentagon seems to concur with Obama, in opposition to a new Mideast war. And as Congress votes new sanctions on Iran and new billions for an Egyptian army that just arrested its elected government, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is laying out scenarios for reducing the size, reach and power of the U.S. military.

“Without the controlling principle that the nation must maintain its objectives and its power in equilibrium, its purposes within its means, and its means equal to its purposes, its commitments related to its resources, and its resources adequate to its commitments, it is impossible to think at all about foreign affairs.” So wrote Walter Lippmann in 1943.

That is our situation today.

During World War II, we were united in defeating Germany and Japan. After the war, we became united on a new foreign policy — containment of communism and a Soviet Empire that had spread from the Elbe River to the Bering Sea. Through great sacrifices we ensured that our resources were adequate to our commitments.

Vietnam shattered the Cold War consensus. Yet enough of it survived for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to lead the nation and the West to victory.

Bush I then set out to build his “New World Order.” He invaded Panama, drove Iraq out of Kuwait and put U.S. troops into Somalia. The country sent him packing.

After 9/11, Bush II invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and undertook to nation-build in both. The country removed his party from power in both houses of Congress in 2006 and from the presidency in 2008.

George W. was going to “end tyranny in our world.” Enough said.

Obama began the long retreat of American power that proceeds today despite a bellicosity on Capitol Hill redolent of the Cold War.

Today, as government at all levels consumes nearly 40 percent of gross domestic product, as the deficit is growing three times as fast as the GDP, as China continues to grow at four times the U.S. rate, we need to ask ourselves:

What should we fight for? Whom shall we defend? What can we afford in the way of national defense? What must we afford?

Consider America’s alliances, almost all of which date to a Cold War no American under 25 can even remember.

NATO was formed in 1949 to protect Western Europe from a Soviet Bloc and a Soviet Union that disappeared a generation ago.

U.S. treaties with Japan and the Philippines date to the 1950s, when Chairman Mao was exporting communist revolution. Should these treaties now require us to go to war with China to defend disputed islets and rocks in the East and South China Sea?

Our treaty with South Korea dates to a war against the North that ended in a truce 60 years ago. South Korea today has twice the population of the North and 40 times the GDP.

Must we still deploy a U.S. army on the Korean DMZ?

In 1977 we undertook to give $5 billion in annual foreign aid to Israel and Egypt. After 35 years, how long should the United States, whose middle class has not seen a rise in real income since 1977, borrow from China to pay Egyptians and Israelis $5 billion a year not to fight each other?

Through a mindless adherence to policies that date to a long-dead past, America is forfeiting her future.

Through our abandonment of economic patriotism and embrace of globalism, we have run up $10 trillion in trade deficits since Reagan. We have fought two trillion-dollar wars in 12 years.

Every year we go into world financial markets to borrow tens of billions for the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and foreign aid to send to regimes that routinely vote against the us in the United Nations.

Is Rand Paul really the one living in yesterday?

Infantile Conservatism

Netanyahu USA

by Patrick J. Buchanan

Regularly now, The Washington Post, as always concerned with fairness and balance, runs a blog called “Right Turn: Jennifer Rubin’s Take From a Conservative Perspective.”

The blog tells us what the Post regards as conservatism.

On Monday, Rubin declared that America’s “greatest national security threat is Iran.” Do conservatives really believe this?

How is America, with thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, scores of warships in the Med, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, bombers and nuclear subs and land-based missiles able to strike and incinerate Iran within half an hour, threatened by Iran?

Iran has no missile that can reach us, no air force or navy that would survive the first days of war, no nuclear weapons, no bomb-grade uranium from which to build one. All of her nuclear facilities are under constant United Nations surveillance and inspection.

And if this Iran is the “greatest national security threat” faced by the world’s last superpower, why do Iran’s nearest neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan — seem so unafraid of her?

Citing The Associated Press and Times of Israel, Rubin warns us that “Iran has picked 16 new locations for nuclear plants.”

How many nuclear plants does Iran have now? One, Bushehr.

Begun by the Germans under the shah, Bushehr was taken over by the Russians in 1995, but not completed for 16 years, until 2011. In their dreams, the Iranians, their economy sinking under U.S. and U.N. sanctions, are going to throw up 16 nuclear plants.

Twice Rubin describes our situation today as “scary.”

Remarkable. Our uncles and fathers turned the Empire of the Sun and Third Reich into cinders in four years, and this generation is all wee-weed up over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“For all intents and purposes, (Bibi) Netanyahu is now the West’s protector,” says Rubin. How so? Because Obama and Chuck Hagel seem to lack the testosterone “to execute a military strike on Iran.”

Yet, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Bibi first warned in 1992 that Iran was on course to get the bomb — in three to five years! And still no bomb.

And Bibi has since been prime minister twice. Why has our Lord Protector not manned up and dealt with Iran himself?

Answer: He wants us to do it — and us to take the consequences.

“With regard to Afghanistan, the president is pulling up stakes prematurely,” says Rubin. As we are now in the 12th year of war in Afghanistan, and about to leave thousands of troops behind when we depart in 2014, what is she talking about?

“In Iraq, the absence of U.S. forces on the ground has ushered in a new round of sectarian violence and opened the door for Iran’s growing violence.”

Where to begin. Shia Iran has influence in Iraq because we invaded Iraq, dethroned Sunni Saddam, disbanded his Sunni-led army that had defeated Iran in an eight-year war and presided over the rise to power of the Iraqi Shia majority that now tilts to Iran.

Today’s Iraq is a direct consequence of our war, our invasion, our occupation. That’s our crowd in Baghdad, cozying up to Iran.

And the cost of that war to strip Iraq of weapons it did not have? Four thousand five hundred American dead, 35,000 wounded, $1 trillion and 100,000 Iraqi dead. Half a million widows and orphans. A centuries-old Christian community ravaged. And, yes, an Iraq tilting to Iran and descending into sectarian, civil and ethnic war. A disaster of epochal proportions.

But that disaster was not the doing of Barack Obama, but of people of the same semi-hysterical mindset as Ms. Rubin.

She writes that for the rest of Obama’s term, we “are going to have to rely on France, Israel, our superb (albeit underfunded) military and plain old luck to prevent national security catastrophes.”

Is she serious?

Is French Prime Minister Francois Hollande really one of the four pillars of U.S national security now? Is Israel our security blanket, or is it maybe the other way around? And if America spends as much on defense as all other nations combined, and is sheltered behind the world’s largest oceans, why should we Americans be as frightened as Rubin appears to be?

Undeniably we face challenges. A debt-deficit crisis that could sink our economy. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, Africa, Arabia, Iraq and Syria. North Korea’s nukes. A clash between China and Japan that drags us in. An unstable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

But does Iran, a Shia island in a Sunni sea, a Persian-dominated land where half the population is non-Persian, a country whose major exports, once we get past fossil fuels, are pistachio nuts, carpets and caviar, really pose the greatest national security threat to the world’s greatest nation?

We outlasted the evil empire of Lenin and Stalin that held captive a billion people for 45 years of Cold War, and we are frightened by a rickety theocracy ruled by an old ayatollah?

Rubin’s blog may be the Post’s idea of conservatism. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it.

The Republican Obsession

GOP Israel

By Patrick J. Buchanan

If last week’s hearing for Chuck Hagel raised questions about his capacity to be secretary of defense, the show trial conducted by his inquisitors on the tribunal raised questions about the GOP.

Is the Republican Party, as currently constituted, even capable of conducting a foreign policy befitting a world power? Or has it learned nothing and forgotten nothing since George W. Bush went home and the nation rejected John McCain for Barack Obama?

Consider the great foreign issues on the front burner today.

Will the Japan-China clash over islets in the South China Sea, now involving warplanes and warships circling each other, lead to a shooting war that could, because of our security treaty with Japan, drag in the United States?

Is China an economic rival and trade partner? Or is Beijing seeking strategic and military hegemony in East Asia and the Western Pacific? Is engagement or containment of this emerging superpower the way to go?

Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia friend or foe? Has the “reset” failed?

How many troops should we leave in Afghanistan to prevent its receding into the Taliban darkness, as it did when the Red Army departed in 1989?

Is Iraq, where we lost 4,600 soldiers and 35,000 wounded in a misbegotten war to strip that country of WMD it did not have, about to disintegrate into civil, sectarian and ethnic war? After Bashar Assad falls, will Syria fall to Islamists — or fall apart?

Is Egypt’s military chief correct when he said that the violent eruptions after President Mohammed Morsi’s attempted seizure of dictatorial power could imperil the state itself?

Should the presence of al-Qaida in Mali cause the United States to deepen its military involvement in sub-Saharan Africa? Or does the rancid fruit of NATO’s intervention in Libya to save Benghazi, now an Islamist no man’s land for Westerners, argue for staying out?

Before going ahead with a sequester of Pentagon funds, ought we not first review and reduce the treaty commitments our military is required to honor, many dating back over half a century? All these issues were there to be discussed with Hagel.

Yet, according to Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, who reviewed the transcript of Hagel’s eight hours of testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, there were more mentions of Israel, 178, than of Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Palestine and Palestinians, North Korea, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, China, NATO, Libya, Bahrain, Somalia, al-Qaida, Mali, Jordan, Turkey, Japan and South Korea combined.

In the runup to the Hagel hearings, North Korea tested an intercontinental rocket and indicated a third nuclear bomb test may be imminent. Dictator Kim Jong Un said the “target” of these tests is that “sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the U.S.A.

Yet North Korea was mentioned only 11 times in Hagel’s day-long testimony, while Iran was mentioned 170 times.

But Iran has no missile that can reach the United States, has never tested a nuclear device or bomb, has no nuclear weapons program, according to the unanimous verdict of our 16 intelligence agencies, has never enriched uranium to weapons grade, and has all of its nuclear facilities under constant U.N. surveillance and inspection.

Far from threatening America with nuclear fire like North Korea’s 20-something dictator, the Ayatollah Khamenei has declared a fatwa against Iran’s ever possessing atomic weapons.

This is no brief for a Tehran regime that is no friend of this country. But to suggest Iran cannot be contained as the nuclear-armed Soviet Union of Stalin and China of Mao were contained is absurd.

Whom has Iran attacked in the 33 years since the old ayatollah came back from Paris, while Uncle Sam has attacked or invaded Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Libya twice, Iraq twice, Afghanistan and Serbia?

Query: What is behind this Republican preoccupation, bordering on obsession, with Israel and its nemesis Iran, to the near exclusion of other threats and dangers faced by our country all over a world that is a good bit larger than one small corner of the Middle East? Has Sheldon Adelson replaced Henry Kissinger as the eminence grise of the GOP?

Sen. Lindsey Graham implied it was an outrage to suggest any senator may have been intimidated by an Israeli lobby that has on its wall the scalps of two chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: J.W. Fulbright and Charles Percy.

Who is Lindsey kidding?

Did Bibi Netanyahu, after dissing the U.S. president in the Oval Office, receive those 29 standing ovations at a joint session of Congress, thereby breaking Stalin’s all-time record before the Supreme Soviet, because Bibi gave one helluva speech?

In this city, the Israeli lobby is regarded as right up there with the National Rifle Association as a crowd that rewards its friends and punishes its enemies, with this exception: Far more congressmen and senators are willing to stand up to the NRA than to defy AIPAC.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Where is the vision that Republicans had in the time of Reagan?

Is Hagel out of the Mainstream?

Chuck Hagel

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking … on most issues regarding foreign policy,” says GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. Neocon William Kristol concurs: Hagel is “out on the fringes.”

But where, exactly, is the mainstream on foreign policy in 2013?

Since the Bush II years, “the three amigos” — Sens. Graham, John McCain and Joe Lieberman — have clamored for new wars.

“We are all Georgians now!” thundered McCain when Vladimir Putin was thrashing the Georgians for attacking South Ossetia.

“Bomb, bomb, bomb — bomb, bomb Iran,” trilled McCain in 2008 in parody of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.”

Ten days ago, McCain, Graham and Lieberman urged the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, provide weapons to the rebels and send Patriot missile batteries to protect northern Syria. And what has been the response to their calls for air strikes and new wars? The sound of silence.

George W. Bush ignored McCain on Georgia, and in 2008 McCain was crushed by a dovish Democrat who had opposed the Iraq War.

Like Hagel, who voted for the Iraq War, a majority of Americans have come to believe that 8-year war was a mistake. Even some neocons have expressed second thoughts.

Obama pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq and is pulling them out of Afghanistan, and he won easy re-election over the more hawkish Mitt Romney. And has anyone heard any echo of the amigos’ call to plunge into Syria’s civil war, outside the editorial pages of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, and the little magazines of the neocons?

Let’s do our nation-building here at home, Obama said in the debates.

Any doubt this idea had been poll-tested as a winner?

How many Americans today are saying that what we did in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan was worth doing and should serve as America’s model for dealing with Syria and Iran?

From 2001 to 2005, McCain, Graham and Lieberman were in the mainstream. Those were the days of bipartisan votes for war, of “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” of our goal being “to end tyranny in our world.” Those were the days of the democracy crusade of George W. Bush.

But that was yesterday. The crusade is over. Americans want the crusaders home.

This is not an argument for mindlessly seeking out and parroting mainstream thought. If the amigos believe that intervening in Syria and war with Iran are essential to the national security, they should continue to say so.

Nothing wrong with being out of step with majority opinion, if that is where one believes that truth and wisdom lie.

But the amigos and neocons deceive themselves if they think that in their hostility to Hagel’s views they occupy the mainstream.

Set aside the nonsense about homophobia and anti-Semitism. What, at bottom, are Hagel’s views? Where does he part company with much of the Senate GOP? What are the substantive disagreements?

First, Hagel believes in direct communication with our enemies, be it Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran or Cuba. Second, he believes war is a last resort to be undertaken only after all diplomacy has failed, and war should not be undertaken unless vital interests are imperiled.

Third, he believes a Pentagon budget as large as all the defense budgets of the other 190 nations combined is bloated and too big to carry when, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen said, the deficit and debt are the greatest strategic threats to the United States.

On communicating with enemies, was Richard Nixon, who rescued Israel in the Yom Kippur War, wrong to go to Egypt and Syria, and meet with Anwar Sadat and Hafez Assad, who had launched the war?

Was Yitzhak Rabin wrong to negotiate with Yasser Arafat, his enemy, to achieve the Oslo Accords? Was Bibi Netanyahu wrong to give Hebron to Arafat or deal with Hamas for the return of Pvt. Gilad Shalit, in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners?

Was it not absurd that, to get a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, both parties had to go to Hosni Mubarak, because the world’s superpower does not allow itself to talk to Hamas?

If we are going to cut a deal with Iran where it retains the right to peaceful nuclear power, but we get solid guarantees of no bomb, how do we do that without sending representatives to negotiate the deal with Iran?

Is a nation that kept an embassy in the Third Reich eight years, whose presidents sat down with Stalin and Mao, now fearful of being contaminated by having to sit across a table from Raoul Castro?

Hagel speaks for the realist school of foreign policy, and he can speak for the nation. For he reflects the views of a president who just won another decisive vote of confidence from that nation.

Sorry, Sen. Graham, you are no longer in the mainstream.

That river changed course, half a decade ago.