As expected, Barack Obama has chosen to nominate a Defense Secretary candidate as leftist as Obama himself, one who will help him carry out the extremely leftist agenda of disarming the US unilaterally and appeasing America’s enemies: Chuck Hagel, a nominal Republican on the extreme left fringe who is more liberal and more weak-kneed than even most Congressional Democrats. It is crucial for America’s security, prosperity, and its very survival that his nomination be blocked and utterly rejected at all costs, for the following reasons:
1) Chuck Hagel is a member of the board of the Global Zero group, which advocates deep unilateral cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent and ridding the world (or more precisely, the Western world) of nuclear weapons. (But they don’t mind Russia’s and China’s huge nuclear arsenals, or North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs. They only have a problem with American, British, French, and Israeli nuclear weapons.) Hagel himself is a vocal advocate of America’s nuclear disarmament.
Nuclear disarmament, especially (but not exclusively) its unilateral variety, is a foolish and suicidal policy. It would deprive America (and her allies) of its only deterrent against the most catastrophic threats: a nuclear, chemical, biological, ballistic missile, or massed conventional attack on the US or its allies. It would leave America and allied countries open to such attacks, as conventional arms do not have and will never have the destructive or deterring power comparable to nuclear weapons.
Unilateral disarmament, or unilateral cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent (especially now, when Russia, China, and North Korea are growing and modernizing their nuclear arsenals) is even moreso foolish. It would leave America with few (or no) nuclear weapons, while Russia and China would each retain thousands of them, and thus leave America and its allies widely open to any WMD attack. In such attack, a small nuclear arsenal could be easily destroyed by the Russians or the Chinese.
Yet this is exactly the policy Chuck Hagel’s Global Zero group advocates: unilaterally eliminating all of America’s ICBMs (the cheapest and most readily available leg of the nuclear triad, with 450 missiles) and bomber-launched cruise missiles, dismantling all of America’s tactical nukes (while Russia retains up to 4,000), dramatically cutting the number of ballistic missile submarines, and retiring B-2 bombers from nuclear duty.
One could’ve hardly drawn up a more transparent blueprint for a Russian (or even Chinese) nuclear first strike on the US. All that the Russians (or the Chinese) would have to do then would be to 1) sink the few American SSBNs that would be left and at sea); 2) destroy the USN’s two SSBN bases at Kitsap and King’s Bay; and 3) destroy the few bases where B-52 bombers are stationed. Of course, any B-52 venturing into Russian or Chinese airspace would be easily shot down. And they would not have any nuclear-armed cruise missiles; Global Zero wants America to give these up unilaterally.
2) Chuck Hagel advocates deep cuts in America’s defense budget and falsely claims that it’s “bloated”, even though it’s not (it amounts to just 4.2% of America’s GDP and less than 18% of the total federal budget). He would do nothing to stop sequestration from happening; if anything, he would actually advocate for it (or for similarly sized or even deeper cuts). He has supported the ridiculous Simpson-Bowles plan, which would’ve arbitrarily cut defense spending by a trillion dollars over a decade, cancelling many needed weapon programs such as the Next Generation Bomber, the F-35, the Ground Combat Vehicle, the Joint Light Truck Vehicle, and the V-22 Osprey.
3) Hagel is an enemy of Israel who has repeatedly, numerous times, throughout his Senate career, refused to sign letters supporting Israel or calling on foreign governments (such as the European Union’s leaders) to take action against anti-Israeli terrorist groups (such as Hezbollah). He has repeatedly voted against sanctions on Iran, such as designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. As such, he is supported enthusiasticaly by American enemies of Israel, such as Stephen Walt (of The Israel Lobby fame), Louis Farrakhan, and others.
4) Hagel is also an anti-Semite. He has claimed that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here [in the Senate – ZM]”. In 1989, he wanted “the Jews” to pay for a USO center in Haifa and argued harshly with Israeli Jews on the subject. And in 1999, he was the SOLE US Senator, only one out of 100, to refuse to sign a letter calling on then-President of Russia Boris Yeltsin to combat anti-Semitism in Russia.
5) Hagel has advocated direct, unconditional negotiations with Iran as well as terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Not surprisingly, Iran has loudly praised Obama’s choice of Hagel (which, by itself, should be a red flag). Thus, Hagel is not just a terrible choice for SECDEF – he’s a national security risk.
6) Last but not least, Hagel has no high-level managerial experience. He has never managed a large business or served as an executive in the government or the military. His ability to act as the DOD’s Chief Executive Officer is completely untested. Yet, if confirmed (God forbid), Hagel would be responsible for overseeing over 2 million members of the US military, over 800,000 civilian DOD employees, and an annual budget of over $600 bn. Therefore, although I seldom agree with Sen. Tom Coburn on defense issues, I do agree with him that Chuck Hagel is completely unqualified to be SECDEF, as he lacks the experience and the skills necessary to oversee such a large department. As Senator, Hagel was a rough, arrogant, and brutal manager of his Senatorial office, treating office employees like dirt. This is not the right kind of person to lead the DOD. (Although, to be clear, a SECDEF should not pamper DOD employees, either.)
Hagel is the least qualified SECDEF nominee since at least Melvin Laird (who, BTW, was a good Pentagon chief serving under difficult circumstances). Elliot Richardson, James Schlesinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Harold Brown, Cap Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, Dick Cheney, Les Aspin, Bill Perry, Bill Cohen, Robert Gates, and Leon Panetta were all more qualified to be SECDEF (although not all of them were fully qualified or fit for the job, and not all of them were good SECDEFs). Similarly, today Obama has other, far more qualified candidates for the job (e.g. current Deputy SECDEF Ashton Carter and former Under SECDEF for Policy Michele Flournoy), yet, he chose Hagel, a totally unqualified candidate.
This is particularly troubling because the biggest challenge awaiting the next SECDEF will not be confronting Iran, China, Russia, or North Korea, but to shepherd the Defense Department throughout a period of fiscal austerity with the least possible damage to America’s defense capabilities.
Hagel is the wrong person for that task. Not that he or Obama care.
Folks, please call both of your Senators and tell them that you will NEVER, EVER AGAIN vote for them for any office if they vote to confirm Chuck Hagel.