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.
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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