Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Real Reasons Behind the Roadblock of Chuck Hagel

As usual, our nation's fatuous news media is covering a major war over an important issue without actually talking about it.  Republicans in the Senate are blocking the nomination of Chuck Hagel, who as a former conservative Republican senator from my home state of Nebraska, is hardly some kind of Leftist pacifist.  Having served on the front lines in Vietnam and taken shrapnel for his troubles, he has a much more intimate relationship with war and the military than most other Secretaries of Defense.  So why all the opposition, to the point of an unprecedented filibuster?

Most media sources either take the Republicans at face value, and see legitimate concerns over Hagel's past in their attacks, or portray this all as some kind of personal revenge for Hagel's criticisms of the way George W. Bush conducted the war in Iraq.  Neither one of these interpretations is true.

They want to stop Hagel because the Republican party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the military industrial complex.  The War on Terror has boosted military spending to old Cold War levels, and the big contractors have made out like bandits.  Hagel is publicly in favor of president Obama's long-term plan to draw down the size of the military, and that's why he is considered such a danger.

For all of their talk about "small government" and cutting "waste," conservatives love dumping trillions of dollars into our war machine.  They're even known for funding stuff that the military doesn't even want (but that those contractors do.)  They attack welfare recipients as lazy, but are more than happy to give sweetheart, no-bid contracts worth billions to the likes of KBR, no matter how bad their performance.

For over the past decade, we really haven't had a debate in this country over whether our metastasized military ought to be maintained at its current, megasized level.  Now that military cuts are in the offing after years of wild spending, Republicans want to do anything they can, including throwing themselves on the wheels of the democratic process, to stop any change from happening.  That's what's really going on here, and it's a sign of their success in manipulating national media narratives that hardly anyone is talking about it.

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