Travis Kelly
Grand Junction Free Press Opinion Columnist

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February 14, 2013
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T. KELLY: Chuck Hagel vs. the Chickenhawks

Chuck Hagel, Obama's Republican nominee for Secretary of Defense, has been ambushed in another firefight like the ones that earned him two Purple Hearts in Vietnam. While American veterans overwhelming support Hagel, it's the same shameless band of Neocon chickenhawks - who got us into Iraq searching for WMDs for a decade - sniping at him this time.

They represent the monster that Eisenhower warned us about - a ravenous, military-industrial complex committed to stirring up and fighting endless wars to justify its own bloated bureaucratic survival, and reap endless fortunes for its revolving-door military contractors. Merely prod the fat belly of the Pentagon and suggest a much-needed diet, and it habitually squawks: "National Security will be devastated!"

Many Americans react with the same knee-jerk to any proposed defense cuts, until they learn that we account for a whopping 45% of global military spending, with more than half of the other 55% being spent by our allies. By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans support more cuts from Defense than cuts to Social Security and Medicare. After 12 years of nonstop warfare, with a cost to date of over $4 trillion and an average of 22 veterans committing suicide every month, it is time we stop nation-building abroad and do it at home. Hagel realizes this. And our shaky finances demand it.

But Hagel irritated one particularly loud faction of the Neocons - the Likudnik Zionists, who act as if Israel's very survival depends on American military forces being bogged down on its distant frontiers until the end of time. While we all weep over Sandy Hook, this kind of slaughter of innocents has been routine in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza during our self-perpetuating "War on Terror." I don't see Obama or any American shedding tears over these tragedies, or doing anything to end them.

Hagel once said, "I'm a United States senator. I'm not an Israeli senator," violating the new taboo in America. In the current inquisition against him, the term "Israel" has been uttered 147 times so far and dominates the whole hearings, above any strictly American national security concern - pretty much proving Hagel's point that the powerful Israel lobby exercises inordinate influence on our Congress.

For over 50 years, the U.S. has vetoed dozens of near unanimous U.N. resolutions condemning Israel's long, brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory since 1967. That policy has undermined our strategic relations with the oil-rich Arab world, and our whole professed role as champions of human rights and international law. That body of law and the U.N. were inspired by the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust, and it is a cruel irony that Israel and its zealot supporters have been undermining both by refusing to obey the mandates of the very organization that legitimized Israel's birth.

Israel now occupies 42% of the land dedicated to the Palestinians in 1947, and Netanyahu shows no sign of restraining his Orthodox religious fanatics in the West Bank, who terrorize Palestinians daily and devour more of their land. After the Arab Spring, it is now the consensus of the non-Neocon American foreign policy establishment that this de facto tolerance of Israel's lebensraum-in-the-East policy has become a strategic liability. The respected foreign policy guru Anthony Cordesman states it bluntly:

"The depth of America's moral commitment to Israel... does not mean that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government that fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbors... that the United States has the slightest interest in supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank... should be passive when Israel makes a series of major strategic blunders - such as persisting in the strategic bombing of Lebanon during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, escalating its attack on Gaza long after it had achieved its key objectives, embarrassing the U.S. president by announcing the expansion of Israeli building programs in east Jerusalem at a critical moment in U.S. efforts to put Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track, or sending commandos to seize a Turkish ship in a horribly mismanaged effort to halt the 'peace flotilla' going to Gaza.

"It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it test the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews."

Even former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan has expressed the same sentiment:

"Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden."

Now I'm sure the usual troop of GIYUS (Give Israel Your United Support) dittoheads will automatically flood this paper and my in-box with vile slanders of "anti-Semitism" for daring to criticize sacrosanct Israel.

Bring it on. It will be just the excuse I need to unload a whole documented trove of outrageous Israeli double-dealing, spying, and false-flag attacks on this nation over the last 50 years, beginning with the murderous assault on the U.S.S. Liberty.


Travis Kelly is a web/graphic designer, writer and cartoonist in Grand Junction. See his work or contact him at

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