This past Friday, the White House made it known that President Obama was going to nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense which caused a fevered push back by left wing progressives, conservatives, right wing pundits, and Israel’s lobby group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee).
This afternoon, Jan. 7, 2013, President Obama did indeed nominate Hagel for the position, as well as John Brennan as the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The push back by conservatives stems from Hagel’s preference to avoid going to war if at all possible, which makes it harder for war profiteers to steal tax dollars. Hagel who did vote for the invasion of Iraq when Bush was President, later said in January 2007, that President Bush's plan to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq was "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." And it was carried out.
Israel’s lobby group AIPAC, which is the most powerful foreign government lobby group in Washington D.C., objects to Hagel’s nomination because of some comments the former senator had said about the lobby organization.
In 2006, Hagel used the term “Jewish lobby,” a phrase some in the Jewish and pro-Israel communities have found offensive.
"The political reality is … that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” Hagel said in an interview. “I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel.”
And left wing progressive’s object to Hagel’s nomination because of a past comment regarding a gay man, which he did apologized for. In 1998 Hagel voted against James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg on the grounds that Hormel, as Hagel put it, was "openly, and aggressively gay". And other Democrats object to Hagel simply because he’s a Republican and not a Democrat.
During President Obama’s nomination ceremony today, he called Hagel a "patriot" and that his nomination was “historic”.
Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. He is an American patriot. He enlisted in the Army and volunteered for Vietnam. As a young private, and then a sergeant, he served with honor, alongside his own brother. When Chuck was hit by shrapnel, his brother saved him. When his brother was injured by a mine, Chuck risked his life to pull him to safety. To this day, Chuck bears the scars — and the shrapnel — from the battles he fought in our name.
Chuck Hagel’s leadership of our military would be historic. He’d be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department. As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, in Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. They see one of their own.
Chuck Hagel has many detractors on both sides of our political aisle; and if both sides are attacking you, you must be doing something right, as the saying goes.
- To view Chuck Hagel’s voting record on Foreign Policy while he was a U.S. Senator click here.
- To read a transcript of today’s nomination ceremony, click here.
- A video of today’s nomination ceremony is also posted with this article.
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