Chuck Hagel’s Plan for U.S. Forces in ‘Palestine’
By Joseph Klein
On the eve of a Senate vote to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, a 2009 report co-authored by Hagel has surfaced titled “A Last Chance For A Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement.” It called for Israel to make “the hard compromises and painful concessions for peace” without asking anything comparable from the Palestinian side. Indeed, the report warned against “the Jewish-American and Christian Zionist groups that feel comfortable amplifying the positions of Israeli politicians hostile to hard compromise and painful concession.”
One of Hagel’s principal co-signatories on the report was Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had advised Obama on foreign policy during his first presidential campaign. Brzezinski has been openly hostile to Israel, accusing it of “brutal repression” and colonialism among other things – i.e., the Palestinian party line.
Hagel was obviously not interested in teaming up with an objective analyst, as reflected in the report. Its tone was set when it questioned the historic “intimacy of the American-Israeli relationship,” which it said is presenting “policy and security challenges for the U.S. in the Middle East and beyond.”
The principal painful concession recommended in the report was a two-state solution that would result in Israel having to retreat largely behind the indefensible pre-June1967 lines, with minor land swaps. President Obama’s own proposal for a two-state solution mirrored this recommendation.
The report also endorsed a Jerusalem divided into two national capitals “with Jewish neighborhoods falling under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty.” The reality on the ground, however, is that there is no such strict separation of populations all over Jerusalem. Rather there are some mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhoods. Many Jerusalem-area Arabs also would not want to give up so easily the benefits of living under Israeli sovereignty, such as superior health care, social security and better access to jobs.
Christian holy places would be administered by Palestine, a dubious proposition considering the experience in Palestinian-administered Bethlehem where Christians were a majority in 1990 and constitute only 15% of the population today. Christians there found the same type of conditions that Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and other Muslim-controlled countries and regions have encountered – beatings, Palestinian occupation of churches, discrimination and other forms of intimidation. The one safe haven for Christians in the Middle East turns out to be Israel, where the Christian population has grown nearly five-fold since Israel gained its independence in 1948.
The report envisions a non-militarized Palestinian state for at least a transitional period, which has about as much chance of succeeding as the failed plan for disarming Hezbollah and other militias in Lebanon.
Who would enforce an imposed two state solution according to the recommendations signed off by Hagel? A “U.S.-led multinational force” which would be “under a UN mandate” and “feature American leadership of a NATO force supplemented by Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis.” Jerusalem would have “a special security and administrative regime of its own.”
A NATO researcher estimated that about 60,000 US/NATO troops and about 160 billion dollars over 10 years would be required to carry out this UN mandate.
Moreover, our troops would be sitting ducks for the kind of terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. And if the report’s recommendation to include Jordanian and Egyptian soldiers in the U.S.-led multi-national force is followed, there is a risk of jihadists committing acts of terrorism from the inside as we have seen all too often in Afghanistan. The last thing we need to do is engage in another long nation-building exercise that Islamists will propagandize as a Western crusader occupation and use to recruit more foot soldiers for jihad.
In providing a thumb-nail revisionist history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by way of background, the report highlighted the “considerable and ongoing Palestinian suffering” that accompanied “the creation and sustaining of a democratic Jewish State in the wake of the Holocaust.” This buys into the Palestinian victimhood narrative that they were innocents forced to pay a heavy price for a European event in which they had no part. The truth is that the Palestinian leadership and its Arab neighbors threw away the chance for an independent Palestinian state which they could have had for the last sixty-four years. Moreover, the Palestinians under the leadership of such men as Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini collaborated with Nazi Germany. They ended up on the losing side, but still could have had their own state, living side by side in peaceful co-existence with Israel, if it weren’t for their determination to destroy the Jewish state from its inception.
Hamas maintains the same rejectionist stance today, but the report bearing Hagel’s name recommended U.S. engagement with the jihadist terrorist organization:
In brief, shift the U.S. objective from ousting Hamas to modifying its behavior, offer it inducements that will enable its more moderate elements to prevail, and cease discouraging third parties from engaging with Hamas in ways that might help clarify the movement’s views and test its behavior.
The idea that there are any “moderate elements” in Hamas is an oxymoron. Hamas is dedicated to the complete destruction of the Jewish state. This has not changed since the enactment of Hamas’s founding charter, which remains in effect.
Last December, for example, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal stated:
”We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way. We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy. From the sea to the river, from north to south, we will not give up any part of Palestine — it is our country, our right and our homeland.”
So much for engaging Hamas on the contours of a two-state solution.
In 2011, Hamas’s former minister of “culture,” Atallah Abu Al-Subh, called Jews “the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the earth.”
Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense will be in a position to push the disastrous recommendations of the report he co-authored. It would not take much to convince Obama that they are worth trying, particularly if the UN puts its stamp of approval on the plan and it is conducted under the UN’s auspices. Any Senator foolish enough to confirm Chuck Hagel, given his demonstrated incompetence, will also have to explain to U.S. soldiers put in harm’s way if the recommendations endorsed by Hagel move forward.