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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The security of the United States is too important for partisan politics

Here's a great piece from The Hill about why Chuck Hagel should not be Secretary of Defense. And most of it has nothing to do with Israel.
On the merits, Chuck Hagel is wrong for secretary of Defense, and that’s all that should matter. With Americans in the military serving across the globe, and at a time of growing challenges to national security and extraordinary pressures on the defense budget, there’s no time for the irrelevant partisan distractions that have diminished the debate over the Hagel nomination. When it comes to whether Sen. Hagel should be confirmed by the Senate, all that counts is that he’s the wrong person for the job. 
Sen. Hagel’s professional qualifications do not rival those of recent defense secretaries, notwithstanding his distinguished and praiseworthy military service. He has never managed any institution whose workforce, bureaucracy, budget, or political sensitivity are remotely comparable to those of the Pentagon. During his tenure in the Senate, he authored no significant legislation, chaired no committees, and held no leadership posts, leaving no lasting mark on that body or on national security policy. Likewise, Hagel’s efforts since he left the Senate have had little discernible impact.


Even worse is Sen. Hagel’s performance since being nominated for secretary of Defense. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he bungled the critical issue of the Obama administration’s policy on a nuclear Iran. At first he claimed that the administration had a policy of “containment” (which implies trying to stop an already-nuclear Iran, rather than preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability in the first place). After receiving a note from his entourage, he tried to correct himself but failed, stating that the administration had no policy on containment. Finally, Sen. Carl Levin, the committee’s chairman, stepped in to rescue Sen. Hagel, stating that the Obama administration was opposed to containment. But Sen. Hagel made a further  jaw-dropping statement on Iran, justifying his vote against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization by claiming the repressive, theocratic Iranian regime is “an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not.”  When questioned about this statement, Sen. Hagel said what he meant to say was that the Iranian regime was “recognized.”  But his original statement was no mistake—in his 2008 book, Sen. Hagel decried “America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power.” 
The rest of Sen. Hagel’s hearing went no better. As Reuters columnist Steven Brill wrote, Sen. Hagel “seemed not to understand even the basics of the Pentagon budget and the effects of the looming sequestration of a portion of its appropriated funding.” He claimed that as Secretary of Defense, “I won’t be in a policy-making position.” He could not defend or even clearly explain many of his past extreme statements, except to say that he regretted them and wished he could “go back and edit” his comments. But Sen. Hagel’s extreme views cannot be explained away as mere rhetorical gaffes. The problem is not only the style but the radical substance of Sen. Hagel’s statements, including that Israel “keep[s] Palestinians caged up like animals;” that “[t]he political reality… is that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here;” and that “it is an inhibiting factor to be gay—openly aggressively gay… to do an effective job.”

Here, then, is the real professional record of Chuck Hagel, aside from his distinguished military service: Insufficient management experience; limited accomplishments; botched performances; and extreme views.
Read the whole thing.

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