Monday, January 7, 2013

Bibi/Obama 'Dysfunctional' Relationship to Blame for Political Fight over Hagel's Nomination

The “dysfunctional” relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama is one of the main reasons for the fierce political controversy surrounding the appointment of former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense, former U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller tells Chemi Shalev from Haaretz

“The relationship between the two is probably the most dysfunctional of any two I’ve come across when studying or working on this issue,” Miller told Haaretz. “Everything flows from that. There is a profound sense of mistrust between large numbers of Jewish elites in this country and Obama. And the attack on Hagel in some respects is an attack on Obama, because people know that Hagel is a reflection of many of the things that the President also feels.” 

Miller acknowledged that Israelis, especially Prime Minister Netanyahu who has addressed the urgency of issuing a credible military threat,  may have valid reasons to be concerned about the impending appointment. “If you believe that military force is an instrument or the threat of military forces is critically important to addressing, solving or managing the Iranian nuclear issue, then yes Israelis have a reason to be wary.” 

In any case, Miller believes that Hagel’s past statements are irrelevant to his future functioning as Secretary of Defense, since "Obama is the most controlling U.S. president on foreign policy since Richard Nixon, he, the president, calls the shots."

As for the concerns voiced by Israelis or even American Jews “what they think is not entirely relevant, frankly, and it’s no grounds for exclusion, unless you can demonstrate that Chuck Hagel is endemically hostile to the State of Israel, which I don’t think he is.”