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The GOP obsession

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By Pat Buchanan
Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

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.

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?

How many troops should we leave in Afghanistan to prevent its receding into the Taliban darkness?

Is Iraq 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 Morsy's attempted seizure of dictatorial power could imperil the state?

Should the presence of al-Qaida in Mali cause the United States to deepen its military involvement in sub-Saharan Africa?

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 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.

In the run-up to the Hagel hearings, North Korea tested an intercontinental rocket and indicated a third nuclear bomb test may be imminent. Dictator Kim Jong Un said the “target” of these tests is that “sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the USA.

Yet North Korea was mentioned only 11 times in Hagel's day-long testimony, while Iran was mentioned 170 times.

But Iran has no missile that can reach the United States, has never tested a nuclear device or bomb, has no nuclear weapons program, according to the unanimous verdict of our 16 intelligence agencies, has never enriched uranium to weapons grade, and has all of its nuclear facilities under constant U.N. surveillance and inspection.

Far from threatening America with nuclear fire like North Korea's 20-something dictator, the Ayatollah Khamenei has declared a fatwa against Iran's ever possessing atomic weapons.

Query: What is behind this Republican preoccupation with Israel and its nemesis Iran to the near exclusion of other threats and dangers faced by our country?

In Washington, the Israeli lobby is regarded as right up there with the National Rifle Association as a crowd that rewards its friends and punishes its enemies, with this exception: Far more congressmen and senators are willing to stand up to the NRA than to defy AIPAC.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Where is the vision that Republicans had in the time of Reagan?

Pat Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”

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