The Financial Time reports Hagel nomination expected this week.
US President Barack Obama is poised to nominate Chuck Hagel as secretary of defence, setting the stage for a tough nomination fight focusing on the former Republican senator’s views on Israel and Iran.
The announcement by Mr Obama of a new Pentagon chief to replace Leon Panetta could come as early as Monday, administration officials indicated. Mr Obama returned from a holiday in Hawaii on Sunday.
Mr Hagel’s possible nomination has caused an uproar among neoconservatives over his questioning of sanctions and military action against Iran and his statement that a “Jewish lobby” intimidates Congress.
Many Democrats have been unenthusiastic as well, because he is a Republican and over a past statement criticising a Clinton-era diplomatic appointment as “openly, aggressively gay”.
But the criticism has been especially virulent from the right, with Israel conservatives labelling him borderline anti-Semitic and suggesting he was intent in making dangerously deep cuts to the defence budget.
Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina and a prominent defence hawk, said on Sunday he was inclined not to support his former Senate colleague because of his “antagonistic” attitude to Israel.
“This is an in-your-face nomination by the president for all those who are supportive of Israel,” Mr Graham told CNN.
Democrats don’t want Hagel simply because Hagel is a Republican. The Republicans do not want him because he is not a war-monger.
That’s what this whole thing boils down to.
Why the War Party Fears Hagel
Let’s fill in the details with a look at Why the War Party Fears Hagel
Who is Chuck Hagel?
Born in North Platte, Neb., he was a squad leader in Vietnam, twice wounded, who came home to work in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign, was twice elected U.S. senator, and is chairman of the Atlantic Council and co-chair of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
To The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, however, Hagel is a man “out on the fringes,” who has a decade-long record of “hostility to Israel” and is “pro-appeasement-of-Iran.”
Hagel’s enemies contend that his own words disqualify him.
First, he told author Aaron David Miller that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up there” on the Hill. Second, he urged us to talk to Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran. Third, Hagel said several years ago, “A military strike against Iran … is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”
Hagel has conceded he misspoke in using the phrase “Jewish lobby.” But as for a pro-Israel lobby, its existence is the subject of books and countless articles. When AIPAC sends up to the Hill one of its scripted pro-Israel resolutions, it is whistled through. Hagel’s problem: He did not treat these sacred texts with sufficient reverence.
“I am a United States senator, not an Israeli senator,” he told Miller. “I support Israel. But my first interest is I take an oath … to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a president. Not to a party. Not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”
Hagel puts U.S. national interests first. And sometimes those interests clash with the policies of the Israeli government.
Chuck Hagel allies launch counter-attack
Politico reports Chuck Hagel allies launch counter-attack.
Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, said Hagel “has a very broad view of American foreign policy and the role in the world. He is very judicious, and he has an outstanding record as a senator, which gives him the knowledge and background to understand about the sometimes fractious relationship between the Congress, especially the Senate, and the administration.”
“He got two Purple Hearts on the front lines,” Scowcroft added. “That’s about the best recommendation you can get from somebody whose job would be to advise on the use of troops around the world. I am honestly surprised, even astonished, at the attacks. I do know where they’re coming from, but I don’t understand the genesis of them.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a former Army Ranger who serves on the Armed Services Committee and has traveled to war zones with Hagel, said: “Every man and woman in uniform in the Pentagon and across the world will know that he’s not only talked the talk, he’s walked the walk. … He also has a successful business record. He is an entrepreneur who’s succeeded.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, forcefully defended Hagel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “Unlike some of his critics, … he has fought for his country. He has been wounded for this country. He is a man who knows what war is like.”
I support anyone willing to make this statement “A military strike against Iran … is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” vs. anyone not willing to make the same statement.
A military strike on Iran would be idiotic, and I have no doubt one would have happened had Romney been elected.
It remains to be seen if Obama can get this right. However, Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be a step in the right direction.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock