Monday, January 7, 2013

Shaky Ground

“This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday. “Chuck Hagel is out of the mainstream of thinking on most issues regarding foreign policy.”
Hagel Independence Attracts Obama as Israel Issue Looms

In an interview with his hometown newspaper on Monday, the Lincoln Journal Star, Mr Hagel said his record showed “unequivocal, total support” for Israel and that his critics had “completely distorted” his record.
Obama names Hagel and Brennan to lead Pentagon and CIA
The degree to which, to succeed in American Politics, one must be seen as properly supportive of Israel is, to many people, a strange and disturbing thing. Were it simply a facet of American foreign policy that people believed was living in the past, endlessly fighting and re-fighting the Cold War in the Middle East, I suspect that there would be less discomfort with it. After all, government is often a lagging indicator of things here in the United States, and the idea that not everyone had gotten the memorandum that the Soviet Union was no more would strike many people as sad, yet basically par for the course.

Instead, there is a lurking suspicion that what's really at work here is a need to appease a segment of the conservative/evangelical Christian community in the United States that's actively hoping for the End of the World, and therefore wants the United States to take an active role in fulfilling Biblical prophecy. To be sure, I don't think that many people are actually concerned that the United States government is actively working to bring about literal Armageddon. (Since you'd have to take several parts of the Bible as literal truth.) Instead, I think that it plays into people's fears that there is a deeply religious, and thus somewhat non-rational, backstory to American foreign policy, driven by the need to please people who are living even further in the past than the Cold War.

It's indicative of an interesting fault line in the American electorate, and one that shows no sign of closing anytime soon. We will see what happens if the tectonics become more active as time goes by.

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