As for talking to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, what are we afraid of?
Harry Truman talked to Josef Stalin and read Vyacheslav Molotov the riot act in the Oval Office. Ike invited Nikita Khrushchev to tour the United States three years after he sent tanks into Budapest.
Richard Nixon went to China and toasted Mao Zedong, 20 years after the Chinese were killing U.S. solders in Korea and brainwashing our POWs, and at the same time they were conducting their maniacal cultural revolution and shipping weapons to Hanoi.
Israel negotiated with Hezbollah to retrieve the remains of airman Ron Arad and traded 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in a deal with Hamas for the return of Pvt. Gilad Shalit. And we can't talk to them?
If Hagel's view that a war with Iran is not a "responsible option" is a disqualification for defense secretary, what are we to make of this statement from Robert Gates, defense secretary for Bush II and Obama:
"Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as Gen. (Douglas) MacArthur so delicately put it."
If Hagel were an anti-Semite, would he have the support of so many Jewish columnists and writers? If he were really "out on the fringes," would national security advisers for presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I and Obama be in his camp?
Neocon hostility to Hagel is rooted in a fear that in Obama's inner councils his voice would be raised in favor of negotiating with Iran and against a preventive war or pre-emptive strike. But if Obama permits these assaults to persuade him not to nominate Hagel, he will only be postponing a defining battle of his presidency, not avoiding it.
For Bibi Netanyahu is going to be re-elected this January. And the government he forms looks to be more bellicose than the last. And Bibi's highest priority, shared by his neocon allies, is a U.S. war on Iran in 2013.
If Obama does not want that war, he is going to have to defeat the war party. Throwing an old warrior like Chuck Hagel over the side to appease these wolves is not the way to begin this fight.
Nominate him, Mr. President. Let's get it on.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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