If last week’s hearing for Chuck Hagel raised questions about his capacity to be secretary of defense, the show trial conducted by his inquisitors on the tribunal raised questions about the GOP.
Is the Republican Party, as currently constituted, even capable of conducting a foreign policy befitting a world power? Or has it learned nothing and forgotten nothing since George W. Bush went home and the nation rejected John McCain for Barack Obama?
Consider the great foreign issues on the front burner today.
Will the Japan-China clash over islets in the South China Sea, now involving warplanes and warships circling each other, lead to a shooting war that could, because of our security treaty with Japan, drag in the United States?
Is China an economic rival and trade partner? Or is Beijing seeking strategic and military hegemony in East Asia and the Western Pacific? Is engagement or containment of this emerging superpower the way to go?
Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia friend or foe? Has the “reset” failed?
How many troops should we leave in Afghanistan to prevent its receding into the Taliban darkness, as it did when the Red Army departed in 1989?
Is Iraq, where we lost 4,600 soldiers and 35,000 wounded in a misbegotten war to strip that country of WMD it did not have, about to disintegrate into civil, sectarian and ethnic war? After Bashar Assad falls, will Syria fall to Islamists—or fall apart?
Is Egypt’s military chief correct when he said that the violent eruptions after President Mohammed Morsi’s attempted seizure of dictatorial power could imperil the state itself?
Should the presence of al-Qaida in Mali cause the United States to deepen its military involvement in sub-Saharan Africa? Or does the rancid fruit of NATO’s intervention in Libya to save Benghazi, now an Islamist no man’s land for Westerners, argue for staying out?
Before going ahead with a sequester of Pentagon funds, ought we not first review and reduce the treaty commitments our military is required to honor, many dating back over half a century? All these issues were there to be discussed with Hagel.
Yet, according to Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, who reviewed the transcript of Hagel’s eight hours of testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, there were more mentions of Israel, 178, than of Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Palestine and Palestinians, North Korea, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, China, NATO, Libya, Bahrain, Somalia, al-Qaida, Mali, Jordan, Turkey, Japan and South Korea combined.