As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense (which should be rejected), here’s a summary of Hagel’s record – of what he has said and done – on several important issues.
1) Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah
- In 2008, Hagel told Aaron David Miller (a former Clinton advisor on Middle Eastern issues) that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here [in the US Senate - ZM].”
- He has advocated that the US talk to Hamas and Hezbollah.
- He has refused to sign a number of letters supporting Israel and a letter urging the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
- In 1999, he was the only Senator refusing to sign a letter urging then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin to act against anti-Semitism in Russia.
- In 2006, during Israel’s action against Hezbollah, he called what Israel was doing a mindless “slaughter”.
- His friend, self-admitted “self-loathing Jew” MJ Rosenberg (Twitter handle: @MJayRosenberg) (fired by Media Matters for his anti-Israeli rants) says that he knows Hagel is “lying” to the SASC now to win confirmation.
- In 2003, Hagel accused Israel of keeping the Palestinians “caged like animals”.
- Hagel has been endorsed for SECDEF by virtually all critics of US support for Israel, including Stephen Walt of Harvard University.
- Hagel has claimed that a strike on Iran is not a “viable, responsible” option.
- In 2007, he voted against designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization at the same time that the IRGC was killing American troops in Iraq.
- As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he voted to kill certain sanctions against Iran in committee, as he has admitted to SASC member Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
- Hagel is a board member of the Deutsche Bank, which is under investigation for violating sanctions against Iran. He has also received rewards and emoluments from groups that oppose sanctions (let alone a military strike) against Iran.
3) Nuclear deterrence
- Hagel is a proud board member of two extremely leftist groups which support deep unilateral cuts to, and the unilateral elimination of, the US nuclear deterrent – a policy which would not only invite but virtually guarantee a Russian nuclear first strike on the US and its allies. These two extremely leftist groups are Global Zero and the Ploughshares Fund (the latter also opposes any military strike against Iran as well as the US missile defense program).
- Hagel has been endorsed for SECDEF by all pro-disarmament organizations in the US, including Global Zero, the Ploughshares Fund, and the so-called “Council for a Livable World”. He’s also supported by many individual proponents of unilateral nuclear disarmmament, such as Bruce Blair of Global Zero and Stephen Walt of Harvard University.
- As a member of a 5-man Global Zero panel, Hagel co-authored and co-signed a report calling for deep, unilateral, and fast reductions to America’s nuclear deterrent, including the scrapping of all US ICBMs, tactical nuclear weapons, and nuclear-tipped missiles; deep cuts to the nuclear modernization program; cutting the SSBN fleet from 14 to just 10 boats and the retirement of all B-52s and B-2s or converting them to purely conventional roles, as well as cutting the total US nuclear arsenal to just 450 active and 450 inactive warheads – and under Hagel’s and Global Zero’s proposals, even the 450 “active” warheads could not be used until 72 hours after a potential first strike on the US. The report called for all of these cuts to be completed in 10 years, by 2022. That report was roundly (and rightly) rejected by the commander of STRATCOM, Gen. Bob Kehler, and by the USAF Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz.
- In 2009, Hagel claimed that the US does not have the credibility to demand that North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states renounce nuclear weapons while the US itself retains nuclear arms – despite the fact that North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states couldn’t care less about America’s “credibility” or “moral leadership” and were pursuing nuclear weapons based on their perception of their own interests, not based on America’s actions. He also ignored the then-18 years of incessant cuts to America’s nuclear arsenal that had passed since 1991, and the failure of such cuts to make any impression on Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states. By making that statement, he also suggested moral equivalence between the US and its allies on one hand and America’s potential adversaries (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran) on the other hand.
- Also in 2009, and many times since, Hagel expressed his support for total nuclear disarmament and the fantasy of a “world without nuclear weapons”, a fantasy that will never again exist but did exist before 1945 – and brought about the carnage of two World Wars, as there was nothing sufficiently deadly to restrain the world’s great powers.
4) The defense budget
- In 2011, Hagel falsely claimed that the defense budget is “bloated in many ways” and needs to be “pared down”, ignoring the fact that the total military budget amounts to just 4.2% of America’s GDP, less than 18% of the total federal budget, and is not bloated at all considering the gravity and wide array of security threats America is confronting today, Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran to name just a few.
- Hagel has been endorsed for Secretary of Defense by organizations seeking deep cuts in America’s defense budget, capabilities, and force structure, such as the Ploushares Fund, the “Council for a Livable World”, and the George-Soros-funded CATO Institute.
- The New York Times has said, citing unnamed Obama Administration officials, that Obama wants to cut the defense budget and “kill some major Cold War era weapon systems” (without specifying what these supposed “Cold War era weapon systems are”), and that “for that, Mr Hagel (…) is needed” – in other words, the reason why Obama has nominated Hagel is because he wants Hagel to gut the US military.
Ask yourselves, Dear Readers: is this the kind of Secretary of Defense you want and America deserves?
If not, please call both of your Senators and tell them that you will never vote for them again if they vote to confirm Chuck Hagel. Also please contact Republican Senators and ask them to filibuster Hagel’s nomination. Republicans can and should do this to spare the nation from an extremely leftist and unqualified SECDEF nominee whom Obama has nominated for purely political reasons, and whom Obama’s lackeys in the US Senate have utterly failed to properly vet and will back solely for political reasons (out of blind deference to Barack Obama).
We cannot afford to lose this fight. We cannot be content with Republicans merely voting against Hagel but letting the Dems use their Senate majority to confirm Hagel. We cannot be complacent with merely opposing a bad and unqualified nominee: we must stop him, in his tracks BEFORE he can get to the DOD and do any damage. We must hold Republicans’ feet to the fire and make sure they BLOCK Hagel’s nomination by filibuster.
We must also contact AIPAC and urge them to pressure all Senators to vote against Hagel as well as to pressure the White House to withdraw Hagel’s nomination. AIPAC prides itself in being America’s chief pro-Israel organization, but recent media reports indicate AIPAC does not want to get into a fight it believes it would lose.
We must convince AIPAC to jettison that ridiculous defeatism and to join the fight to BLOCK Hagel’s nomination – for America’s sake as well as that of America’s closest ally, Israel.