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Hagel: War for Oil

10:35 AM, Jan 5, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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In a post yesterday waxing enthusiastic about Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, Michael Moore called attention to a statement of Hagel that I don't believe had been previously much noted. Here it is, from September 2007:

"People say we're not fighting for oil. Of course we are," said the Republican Senator from Nebraska Chuck Hagel to law students of Catholic University last September. "They talk about America's national interest. What the hell do you think they're talking about? We're not there for figs."

This rounds out a Hagelian worldview—but I also wonder if it could be the straw that breaks the back of Hagel's chances. It's true that senators have been notified in the last few days that Hagel is the likely choice. But the latest AP story has the Obama administration keeping the door open for the president to go in a different direction:  "White House aides said the president has not made a final decision on either post and won't until he returns from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family. Obama is due back in Washington Sunday morning." Now, when Obama returns, he'll have to come to grips with the Hagel war-for-oil statement.

After all, this vulgar and disgusting charge has always been out of even the anti-war mainstream. It's something President Obama, an opponent of the Iraq war, has never (to my knowledge) said. Obama thought the war a mistake for various reasons. But he never bought in to the far-left trope that it was, secretly, a war for oil.

What's more, isn't Hagel’s statement a direct attack on the motives and honesty of those senators who supported the war—including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry? Indeed, what does it say about Chuck Hagel, who voted to authorize the war in October 2002? He knew it was a war for oil, didn't say so at the time, but voted for it anyway? And then, a few years later, at the height of the fighting by American soldiers in Iraq, he proclaims with false braggadocio the alleged truth that it's all just a war for oil?

Is President Obama really going to nominate this man as secretary of defense? 

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