The problem with Hagel
Chuck Hagel, the President's nominee to be the next secretary of Defense, must face serious questions about his record, his statements, and troubling hints of anti-Semitism.

Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, former Senator Chuck Hagel (L), stands next to counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (R), the nominee for CIA Director, at the White House in Washington January 7, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • Chuck Hagel must face serious questions about his record, his statements, & troubling hints of anti-Semitism. @DPletka

    Tweet This

  • Hagel has been harshly critical of Pentagon bloat – a hint that he will be quiet when it comes to drastic budget cuts.

    Tweet This

  • Hagel has sharply criticized sanctions and opposed the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist entity.

    Tweet This

Presidents are elected by the American people, and have a right to choose their cabinet members. Their nominees, however, have no right to confirmation. And while the Senate has abdicated many of its responsibilities in recent years, it has yet to become a rubber stamp. Chuck Hagel, the president's nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense, must face serious questions about his record, his statements, and troubling hints of anti-Semitism.

Hagel's record is, up to a point, an open book. Once a Republican senator who supported the war in Iraq, he turned against the war, and opposed the surge. Since, he has opposed Obama's surge in Afghanistan, Obama's military action in Libya and the prospect of any role in Syria. In other words, he agrees with the commander-in-chief some of the time. In addition, Hagel has been harshly critical of Pentagon bloat - a hint that he will be more than quiescent when it comes to more drastic cuts in the Pentagon budget.

More troubling than what may simply boil down to a question of differing perspectives is Hagel's history on the Middle East. Long a darling to those eager for rapprochement with Iran, he has sharply criticized sanctions and opposed the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity.

Hagel has decried "intimidation" by the "the Jewish lobby" in Washington. Taken in the context of other positions -- including one incident in which Hagel was the only member of the Senate to decline to sign a letter urging action against rising anti-Semitism in Russia -- and in light of his consistent willingness to downplay the threat posed by terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, it is not unreasonable to ask whether Senator Hagel has a problem with Jews and the Jewish state.

Last but not least, one must wonder at the president nominating a man with a history of slurs against homosexuals, an A-rating from the National Rifle Association and a zero rating from the pro-choice lobby NARAL, all questions on which Obama is at odds.

Hagel defenders insist these issues would be outside his purview at the Pentagon. Perhaps, but it raises the question of what the president does like about this man.

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.