Chuck Hagel’s Bedfellows

Defense nominee advises think tank that publishes anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah screeds

January 22, 2013

Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel is tied to an organization that publishes articles downplaying the activities of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah while referring to Israel as a "far-right racist state" and America as a "military bully."

The two-time senator serves on the advisory board of Global Strategy Forum (GSF), an organization that has published many anti-Israel articles and urged President Barack Obama to distance America from its Middle East ally.

GSF is an "independent, non-party" political think tank. According to its own description, GSF is "an open forum" that is "dedicated to the promotion of fresh thinking and active debate on foreign affairs, defence and international security issues." It was founded in 2006 and remains active today, publishing "commissioned research" and holding events dealing with foreign affairs and security issues.

The board of the Global Strategy Forum includes conservatives and liberals from the United States and the United Kingdom. According to its webpage, the group is comprised of fifteen staff and board members. Hagel is listed as an advisory board member.

GSF has published articles by the controversial writer Patrick Seale. Seale is described as "a leading British writer on the Middle East," and his articles appear in the "News" section of Global Strategy Forum’s webpage. There are at least eight articles by Seale, many of which are anti-Israel and condemnatory of the United States.

Seale’s articles begin in October 2012 and are critical of America’s involvement in the Middle East, often referring to the U.S. as the region's "military bully."

Seale’s piece, "Can the U.S. Change Course in the Middle East?," attributes the American military presence to a desire to control oil and gas resources and a "concern to protect Israel." According to Seale, the United States’ pledge to preserve Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) is not about protection, but about guaranteeing the nation’s "military supremacy." The result of this pledge, he writes, is that the U.S. "tolerates, indeed assists, Israel in its attempts to destroy resistance movements like Hamas and Hizballah—movements the U.S. portrays as ‘terrorists'—whose crime has been to seek to protect their respective populations in Gaza and Lebanon from Israeli attack."

Seale also minimizes Middle Eastern threats in "Why the Middle East is in Torment."

Written in November 2012, the article claims there is "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Instead, "the U.S. and its allies are now waging an undeclared war against Iran—a war of crippling sanctions, cyber-subversion and assassinations" with the "real aim" of "’regime change’ in Tehran."

Seale’s articles have outlined plans for Arab leaders and Obama’s second term. He blames Israel for the problems in Gaza, claiming under Israel "populations are oppressed, occupied, besieged and murdered." He recommends resolutions for Arab leaders to side with the Palestinians, "even if it means threatening a breach with the United Sates."

Some of his most controversial statements appear in the January 2013 article, "Obama’s Big Foreign Policy Headaches."  The biggest question of Obama’s second term is whether or not he can "regain control of America’s wayward ally," Seale writes.

The article points to Israel as the most important foreign policy issue facing Obama’s new administration team:

"America’s gravest problem is that Israel, its closest ally, is turning into a far-right racist statelet, imposing undemocratic laws at home and oppressive policies towards its captive Palestinians."

By Seale’s account, the disagreements over Hagel’s appointment will play a significant role in demonstrating the U.S.’s ability to pull away from Israel. According to Seale, the final result of a Hagel nomination "will show the extent to which the U.S. can free itself from Israeli shackles, restoring its battered reputation and freedom of action in the Middle East."

The London-based GSF was founded by Johan Eliasch and Michael Ancram. Eliasch is a successful businessman and currently the chairman of the HEAD Group. He has been involved with many prestigious businesses and organizations, including the British Olympic Association. He served as the Conservative Party deputy treasurer from 2003 to 2007.

His co-founder, Michael Ancram, is a British Conservative politician, who served as the chairman of the Conservative Party before announcing his retirement in 2009. According to his GSF biography, Ancram stepped down from Parliament in May of 2010 and was presented to the House of Lords in November.