It is very rare in Washington these days to see bipartisanship, but when President Obama nominated former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, a chorus of opposition sprung up across party lines. Chuck Hagel is flatly the wrong choice to lead our nation’s military at this time. One just has to look at his questionable statements and actions over the past years to understand why he is the wrong choice.
In 2009, Senator Hagel said this about the current regime in Syria, “I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies…Syria wants to talk — at the highest levels — and everything is on the table.” The United Nations has said that 60,000 plus Syrians have been killed since violence broke out nearly two years ago. The Assad regime has been brutal towards its own people and looks like they will fight till the last murderer is standing. Senator Hagel was dead wrong about Assad and Syria.
In January of 2007, as the Iraqi surge was being debated in Washington, Senator Hagel said it would be “…the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out.” The surge was a resounding success that finally brought stability to Iraq. What would have been the alternative, pull out our forces and let Iraq go down a path of complete anarchy where Islamic extremists would rule? Senator Hagel was simply wrong when it came to the Iraqi surge as was then-Senator Barack Obama who was against it as well. Without the surge, God only knows what the state of this troubled region would be.
In September of 2007, Senator Hagel voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The Revolutionary Guard comprises of 125,000 elite troops that are separate from the Iranian regular armed forces. Although the main purpose is to protect the Iranian regime through their multilayered forces, the Revolutionary Guard has also become a very powerful political and economic force within Iran. In Iraq and Afghanistan the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force has been linked to providing arms and explosives to Shiite militias and the Taliban in both countries. That is why it is so perplexing that as a United States Senator armed with classified information Chuck Hagel voted against the designation.
In 2001, Senator Hagel was one of only two Senators who voted against the renewal of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. The legislation required the U.S. government to impose tough sanctions on foreign companies that invest $20 million a year on Iranian oil or gas development and $40 million on Libyan oil or gas development. The reason for the sanctions was to punish both the regimes in Iran and Libya from reaping large profits so they could fund weapons of mass destruction programs. Senator Hagel voted against these sanctions that were nearly unanimously passed in the United States Senate. Why?
In 1999, Senator Hagel was the only Senator not to sign a letter to then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the “rise of anti-Semitism” in Russia. The letter appeared in the New York Times in conjunction with a Yeltsin visit to the United States. One would think it would be a no-brainer for a Senator to sign the letter but Senator Hagel did not. Again, why?
By nominating Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, President Obama clearly wants a nomination fight. What I touched on in this column is just the tip of the iceberg. Senator Hagel will have to answer for the many misstatements he has made over the years in regard to our national defense. He has a long record and I am sure that both Republicans and Democrats will hold him accountable during his nomination hearing. From what I see, President Obama should have not nominated Senator Hagel in the first place. He is simply the wrong man for the job.