Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Anti-Israel Secretary Of Defense?

Gary L. Bauer
American Values

As President Obama prepares to reshuffle his cabinet for his second term, there is growing concern about the leading candidate to replace to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. According to various reports, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is the frontrunner.

The Huffington Post described Hagel as a "moderate Republican," who became a "fierce critic" of President Bush's war policies. Hagel opposed sending reinforcements to Iraq, and blasted the surge as "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." So on one of the most important military decisions in recent memory, Hagel was dead wrong.

During his time in the Senate, Chuck Hagel was soft on Iran and hostile to Israel. In 2001, Hagel was just one of two senators to oppose sanctions against Iran. In 2007, he opposed legislation labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist front. In 2009, he urged President Obama to begin direct talks with Hamas, another terrorist group. Our friends at The Weekly Standard have posted a fact sheet on Hagel's record.

Hagel briefly flirted with the idea of running for president in 2008. At the time, I led a coalition of conservative leaders that interviewed potential presidential contenders. What stood out most was that Hagel's entire presentation to our group was an attack on Israel and a call to reorient our foreign policy toward the Muslim world.

Throughout his time in the Senate, Hagel consistently opposed the idea of striking Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. There is nothing to suggest that he has changed his mind since he left the Senate in 2008. In fact, he currently serves on the board of a bank that is being investigated for violating trade sanctions imposed on Iran.

Yet with each passing day, it becomes increasingly likely that the United States and Israel will have to confront Iran's nuclear ambitions or be confronted by a nuclear-armed Iran. That Hagel is under consideration to be the next Secretary of Defense strongly signals that the administration will likely continue its outreach to the tyrants in Tehran.