Perhaps today’s vote sealing Chuck Hagel’s future as the new Obama Secretary of Defense had nothing to do with news leaked that Obama is getting ready to help Syrian rebels. But call me skeptical:

The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide the rebels with equipment such as body armor, armored vehicles and possible military training and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition, according to U.S. and European officials.

The administration has not provided direct aid to either the military or political side of the opposition throughout the two-year old Syrian conflict, and U.S. officials remain opposed to providing weapons to the rebels.

Why, just last week, guess who was calling for the United States to do more for the Syrian jihadists? Senators McCain and Graham:

With the Syrian government continuing its deadly crackdown on its citizens, two senior American senators who were on their way to the Middle East spoke out strongly on Sunday in favor of arming the Syrian opposition forces.

The senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both Republicans, laid out a series of diplomatic, humanitarian and military aid proposals that would put the United States squarely behind the effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The senators, both of whom are on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that rebel fighters deserved to be armed and that helping them take on the Syrian government would aid Washington’s effort to weaken Iran.

They are stark raving mad. The obsession with Iran in the name of defending Israel is a continuance of the strategic failure achieved by George W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama in taking out Saddam Hussein (which empowered Iran) and installing pro-Iranian rulers in Iraq. Obama’s much ballyhooed withdrawal of US forces from Iraq was the very plan proposed by Bush.

Few openly acknowledge the irony of the wails and hysteria from Republicans complaining that Chuck Hagel is an anti-Semite. Hagel had the audacity of acknowledging the reality in Washington, DC, e.g., that AIPAC and Israel wield enormous power in Washington and hold the keys to campaign cash that most poverty stricken legislators are eager to latch on to. And yet, here are McCain and Graham leading a charge on behalf of Israel to start a proxy war (actually expand the proxy war) with Syria with the ultimate target being Iran. McCain and Graham and other Senators are happily and willingly carrying water for Israel on this issue. How dare Hagel pull back the curtain on this version of political sodomy.

We are generally happy to ignore some hard facts. Iran is not an existential threat to the United States. The United States poses an existential threat, however, to Iran. So let’s at least be honest with ourselves about this. Also, Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel. Not yet at least. Israel, I believe, does have sufficient nuclear power to pose an existential threat to Iran. Enough of the fear-mongering that is really, in my view, a form of psychological projection.

It is true that Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism, but they have been pretty careful about using terrorism to serve their own national security interests. I am not excusing nor justifying what they do. But we need to grow up and recognize that we, as a nation, share part of the blame for what Iran has become and what it does.

Would we sit by doing nothing if Iran or China or Russia sent assassins into the United States to kill scientists who work on drones or other top secret military technologies? Hell no. We would view it as an act of war. Correctly so. Well, that very thing has been done to Iran. Let’s at least be honest with ourselves about the true nature of this dynamic with Iran.

So here we have McCain and Graham getting a public tip from the Obama Administration that their wish for a wider war in Syria may be coming true. The price tag? Allow the Senate to vote on the confirmation of the Chuck Hagel and John Brennan and not block them.

Or, do you think this is just an odd coincidence?

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.