Viscount Samuel, Meet Secretary Hagel

Chuck Hagel's conspicuous about-face on Israel.

2238 Binyamin Netanyahu and Chuck Hagel, best of friends.

I've always appreciate this country, the people, the leadership and the courage that you represent and what has been produced in Israel. It is a model for the world, and the relationship between our two countries, just as you have noted, is as strong as it's ever been, not only measured by the military-to-military, all the other metrics that apply to relationships, but as you also noted, Prime Minister, it is based on common values and respect for others, and that is the foundation of any relationship. …

This is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever. I'm committed to continue to strengthen this relationship, secure this relationship, and as you know, one of the main reasons I'm here is to do that. … I was able to take a long tour up in the north and the eastern borders here, and once again it reminds me of the dangers and difficulties and challenges. But I believe together, working with our allies and our friends, we will be able to do what is right for your country, my country, and make this region a better region and a more secure region, and make Israel more secure.

Hagel then answered press questions and became buddies with the IDF. Israel Hayom reports:

On Monday, Hagel was asked whether he believed it would be advisable for Israel to attack Iran on its own. "That calculation has to be made by Israel," he replied after noting, "Israel is a sovereign nation; every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself." Hagel did not mention a concern that U.S. officials have voiced in the past—that an Israeli strike would run the risk of igniting a wider war that could draw in the U.S.

Hagel wrapped up his three-day trip to Israel by visiting a special forces unit that trains military dogs to find hidden explosives and weapons. He mingled with the soldiers and watched a brief demonstration of the dogs' skills.

We're likely to hear more friendly words for Israel when Hagel addresses the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy on May 9 in a speech titled "U.S. Defense Policy in the Middle East." (Historically, American politicians make pro-Israel pronouncements before pro-Israel organizations.)


Comments: (1) Henry Kissinger also fit the Samuel pattern, leaning more against Israel to offset perceptions of him as pro-Israel. (2) As the Samuel and Hagel trajectories suggest, politics is an ironic business. (3) Sometimes one is better off when an opponent feels compelled to prove his bona fides. (April 25, 2013)

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