Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Obama's picks

Pres. Obama's pick for Secty. of State to replace Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Kerry, is considered to be a good choice.  Kerry is a Democrat who has a good record on anti-Iran sanctions and is a friend of Israel.  But, his picks of Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary and John Brennen as Director of the CIA have both caused some consternation among both Democrats and Republicans as well as supporters of Israel.  Fortunately, both appointmetns have to be approved by Congressional Committees, and it appears that a confirmation struggle will soon ensue.  Perhaps these appointments represent what we in Israel have feared in Obama's second term.
Hagel is known as a maverick among Republicans, and although he is listed as one, he often votes against his Republican colleagues.  Obama said he admires Hagel's "independent streak."  Hagel has expressed views that include willingness to continue discussions with Iran over its nuclear weapons program and has opposed harsh sanctions.  Although he  now proclaims himself a friend of Israel, he is on record as supporting negotiations between Israel and Hamas.  How precisely these would be carried out is uncertain, but it is true that Israel has negotiated indirectly and unofficially with Hamas over the recent ceasefire thru Pres. Morsi of Egypt. 
John Brennan is currently the White House counter-terrorism advisor.  But, his views have also raised concerns.  He is on record as stating that terrorism is a tactic not an entity, and therefore it is inappropriate to have a counter-terrorism policy.  This seems particularly inappropriate for someone who would be leading America's war on terrorism.  It seems that both of these candidates represent views that might be called liberal, third-world views that are consistent with those of Obama himself, and that put emphasis on the wrongs of US policy as well as on its rights. 
However, since the nominations have been put forward, both Hagel and Brennan have issued statements clarifyng their stands and adopting positions in line with established US policy.  Also, several Israeli leaders have said that Hagel's nomination is not a problem regarding Israel, although they are concered about his stand on Iran.  The Israeli Government has issued no specific comments on Hagel.  Hopefully a long draw-out confirmation fight in the Congressional Committees will be avoided, but expect some fireworks on Capitol Hill.


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