The sad spectacle of Hagel's confirmation hearing once again shows that the Obama administration is not in any position to reach any sort of compromise with Iran, being totally restricted by Congress and the Pro-Israeli lobby. Iran simply has no negotiating partner under Obama, which is hampered by a Congress that fundamentally opposes Iran's "right to exist" as a sovereign, independent nation.
I just got home and had a chance to review Hagel's nomination hearing video. I needed a good chuckle. Especially when they were grilling him about his views about the excess influence of the proIsrael lobby, when at the same time, Israel was the most mentioned country at the hearing (more so than Afghanistan, where the US is still fighting an actual, you know, war.)
There has been a lot of talk about how Hagel's nomination signals a policy by Obama to negotiate with Iran. It was expected of course that Senate would grill Hagel over Israel, and it was even expected that Hagel would roll over and play nice for now in order to get past this hurdle. The question is whether he retains any credibility afterwards. And this bring us to a much more fundamental question is: considering that the level of pro-Israel sentiment is so high and so strongly enforced as was seen during Hagel's nomination process, then does Iran have a negotiating partner in the US? It seems not, since US officials seem themselves to be hampered in their ability to pursue US interest, and are answerable not to the US as much as to Israel.
It was a craven display that fundamentally discredits the US Senate, the Obama administration, the nomination process, and US foreign policy - all at the same time, and now visible to the entire world thanks to the coverage. And the irony of it, of course, is that it proved what had been vehemently denied: the malign influence of Israel.
Any nominee who emerges from this process is tainted too - afterall, the world saw Chuck lie and flipflop, albeit rather innadroitly, but nonetheless how can any US official be taken seriously after he grovels and lays supine before Israel in such a manner? Chalking up the performance as as simply political expediency, makes it even more reprehensible, frankly. In what other part of the world, in what other part of history, has a nominee to head a country's military power had to first swear neverending fealty to a foreign country? And how is any other country supposed to take such a nominee seriously after they emerge from such a process?
To quote the Guardian:
In fact, after a while, it was hard to figure out if Hagel was the nominee for secretary of defense or "Israel's new bestie", so obsessed were Republican Senators with how Hagel views the US-Israel relationship. It was a demoralizing spectacle.
As we saw during the GOP primaries last year, the new apparent litmus test for being a foreign policy-maker in the US government appears to be the extent to which you offer unconditional support for basically everything that Israel does (even when it goes against stated US policy). ...
That a hearing on the fitness of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense was dominated by a discussion of a country that is not even a military ally of the United States – and which, in the just the last three months, has take actions on settlement construction that run precisely counter to US policy – offered compelling evidence of the disproportionate and unhealthy role that Israel plays in US foreign policy debates.