Most people have probably heard that Chuck Hagel is the President’s pick to be the next Secretary of Defense. What critics I find interesting are focusing on is supposed anti-Israel comments made by Hagel:
Hagel, who says he’s a strong supporter of Israel, stirred bad feelings by referring to pro-Israeli Americans as “the Jewish lobby” and suggesting they wield undue power in Washington.
“The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people. … I’ve always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel,” Hagel told former Mideast peace negotiator and author Aaron David Miller in a 2006 interview.
Hagel continued, “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator. I support Israel, but my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel.” [Stars & Stripes]
So can someone please explain to me what is so outrageous about these statements? What I find more concerning is that he was for the Iraq War before he was against it:
Hagel initially supported the Iraq War, but as it dragged on he spoke out against some of President George W. Bush’s policies, including the decision to send a “surge” of 30,000 more troops.
In a 2007 Senate hearing, Hagel worried that the plan would lead to cross-border fighting with the Iranians or Syrians. He said it was “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out. I will resist it.”
So basically he was completely wrong about everything that has transpired in Iraq. That concerns me. He also has made anti-gay comments in the past that I find troubling as well:
In 1998, Hagel opposed President Bill Clinton’s nomination of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg, saying as a gay man he couldn’t be effective as a top diplomat.
“They are representing America,” Hagel told the Omaha World Herald. “They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay – openly, aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel – to do an effective job.”
So does he believe gay servicemembers cannot do an effective job representing America as well? Hagel has since backtracked on the comments but if it was someone like George Bush making this nomination the gay rights groups would likely be up in arms and surrounding the White House in protest. I don’t expect to see that happen since President Obama made the nomination. Because of that Hagel I think will likely get the nomination.
So why did the President decide on Hagel to be his Secretary of Defense? Probably because with the coming spending fight to come he is going to propose defense cuts and Hagel a Republican will support him. This will make it harder for the Republicans in Congress to oppose the cuts since they will be opposing a fellow Republican in Hagel as well. This will all be part of the political theater to come in the next two months for the debt ceiling fight.