Mitchell Reports | January 31, 2013
>> you, and joining me now from more on senator hagel 's confirmation hearings and the military challenges that he faces -- will face anyone who is the next defense secretary steve. you were at the hearings.
>> you've been supportive of chuck hagel . you know him very well. you've been sort of part of this whole process. let's talk about how he handled those questions so far today, and it's going to be a long day for him in the hot seat.
>> i think he expected a long day, and i think that as we were speaking earlier, i think john mccain came into run point on the surge. i think it matters so much to mccain . he is so personally invested in that, and that was the rip with the party. that was the rip with mccain for senator hagel , and i think that's what they want to exact a pound of flesh for, and i think chuck hagel went in to do what he wanted to do, which was not to give a yes-no answer to that. he didn't want to embarrass or offend mccain . i don't think he succeeded in that. he did want to say that 1,200 soldiers died in that surge, and that thousands of people were wounded and that we need to consider things not in an emotional and reckless way, but need to look at the costs and the returns. he said history will judge whether that was a good move by the united states or a poor surge. as he explained that, i thought hagel taught the country about the surgery that it might not have known.
>> marco rubio has come out with a statement.
>> before the hearing is over.
>> he said he is going to vote against him. you can see where some of the newer senators --
>> it's a great tweet by sam stein of " huffington post " that says in 2017 president marco rubio will wonder why the senate isn't letting him have the people he picks for his cabinet.
>> the ironies abound that people are taking sides even before the hearings take place, but there are other people within that hearing -- i mean, mccain has a particular role as a leader on defense policy, as a leader of this country ke, and as mccain goes, so will go other republicans. he will give political cover to some who may want to go up against president obama .
>> oh, i think that's right. i think that's one quadrant, but, of course, you had john waern, who is also a republican, former chairman of that committee, who strongly defended hagel and his views, and sam nunn on the democratic side. there are a lot of former chairman around that may have other issues. people aren't looking at thad cochran . thad cochran came out as the first republican to issue p public support for hagel , and he was one vote away from beating trent lott for senate majority leader some years ago. you have leaders. this is -- as john mccain said, this is not a neat difference among friends. there are deep idealogical differences about world view and america's place in the world, and i think that those opposed to hagel are trying to get a bandwagoning effect happening. i've talked to senator shumer and others who don't see that happening. i have talked privately to a couple of republican senators who are keeping their powder dry right now, but they're not quite ready to jump in the pro or con camp. my guess is, though, that the white house still thinks they're on solid ground and getting him confirmed.
>> let me ask you about this. is israel 's strike into syria yesterday, a lot of mystery over what they were after. it's reported that they were after some russian weapons that were advanced weapons that were heading to hezbollah and lebanon. what is your basic information?
>> i think israel has legitimate security concerns that when there is the tumult you see and you already have seen syria could be part of assad's strategy to run things over the borders that, when you begin to see materials move, that could move from syria into lebanon and potentially into hezbollah 's control, whether they're chemical or even well targeted rockets, various things, i think israel many consultation with the russians and the americans, had decide thad something was moving. you and i don't know what the content was. i was impressed with israel 's willingness to consult with russians and the americans in this before they took their strike, so i believe that they have had a sense that something very nasty was being moved.
>> is this a proxy against iran , and is this any kind of signal also since the weapons were possibly headed to hezbollah at least acc sources. is this also letting iran know, you know, that --
>> of course.
>> that we are gunned and ready.
>> i don't think it was a reckless move by israel , and there are a lot of people who will disagree with my assessment of that, but i think there are a lot of potential consequences for israel that this was a potentially high risk move i think by what they did. they were demonstrating their resolve to make sure that their security is maintained. i don't think that they want to be in the middle of the syrian conflict, and they have showed real strategic restrapt up until this point. this is not a reckless move. everything about syria is about iran . and about a kind of larger geostrategic stand-off. syria is hard to even consider as a country right now because have you so many different die mentions in the civil wash, you and you have a geostrategic stand offbetween russia and china that have been voting against the united states , that have military capacity in the region, and iran is the biggest patron of syria . it is hard to talk about syria in a serious way without looking at the broad gee joe strategic players.
>> should we read anything into this about the re-elected benjamin netanyahu 's willingness to take military action against iran ?
>> i think netanyahu is showing himself, and he will show himself to be always right there on israel security. i think we're going it see him dial down some of the rhetoric and the posturing and the bluster that we are used to from netanyahu, and if you see and act like this without the bluster, i think that's what's interesting. you don't see anybody beating their chest after this strike. just as if after the strike on syria 's nuclear facilities that the north koreans were helping with. very little comment. he is taking action and letting action speak louder than words, which is not the net new we're used to seeing.
>> thank you very much. steve clemons . watching the hearing with