Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska has been rumored to be the possible choice of President Barack Obama to be the next Secretary of Defense, but he has been assaulted by critics on the left and on the right since the rumors began about ten days ago.
This is totally unwarranted, as Hagel is an exceptional choice for the Pentagon.
The attacks are based on the following factors:
In 1998, Hagel was critical of an ambassadorial nominee of President Bill Clinton, because the nominee was a gay man. But that is nearly fifteen years ago, and Hagel, as many others, has grown in his tolerance on matters involving homosexuality, and should not be held as anti gay anymore, and has apologized for his past views and statements. It would be actually be great to have a Secretary of Defense who would be enforcing fair policies on gays in the military, and recognizes the wrong of his ways. if we are to say that having a view disqualifies anyone for the rest of his natural life, then no one could fill a cabinet position or any other political job! And for the gay Republican group known as the Log Cabin Republicans to be critical, is true hypocrisy as they backed Mitt Romney and other Republicans who took a stand against gay rights in the recent Presidential campaign!
The Republican Party seems to be working against Hagel, because he was a rare man of principle in his years in the US Senate, and had the “gall” to be critical of the neoconservatives who dominated the Bush Administration foreign policy, which got us enmeshed in Iraq and Afghanistan for so many years. So despite Hagel’s sacrifices in Vietnam, a fellow Vietnam warrior named John McCain, who wants to send US troops everywhere, it seems, has been a major critic of Hagel, as unacceptable for Defense Secretary because he advised against moving toward war against Iran in 2007, and believes in the continuation of diplomacy! Imagine a Secretary of Defense who actually wishes, if possible, to avoid war, and sees the chance to cut Pentagon spending as a priority, with any sane person knowing there is much unnecessary spending that can be cut, and needs to be cut. It is only a continuation of what former Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was trying to promote under Obama in his first two years in office.
Also, the fact that Hagel has disagreed with Israel’s government at times, and had the “temerity” to say that the “Jewish lobby” had too much input into US foreign policy, has made AIPAC (American Israel Political Action Committee) to say that he is “anti Semitic”, which is totally preposterous!
As a Jew myself, this author is irritated that if someone disagrees with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any other Israeli politician or government statement or policy, that right away that person is considered anti Jewish! This author and many other Jews and non Jews do not wish that ANY foreign government has the ability to have so much impact that it interferes with our President, any President, deciding what is good to do for America, particularly when it is perfectly clear that IF Israel is endangered in any viable way, America will come to their defense! But this does not mean that there cannot be disagreements on strategy or policy with the Israeli government, without being called anti Jewish, or anti Semitic. And the fact is that another Jewish group, J Street, has no problem with Hagel, and many objections to the policies and statements of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government. America must have an independent policy from any other nation, but again, with the understanding, which certainly exists, that we will be there for the survival of Israel no matter what might develop!
So Chuck Hagel should not be passed over because some gays are unhappy with his past; because neoconservatives, Republicans and John McCain are unhappy with him; or because a group that is overly loyal to Israeli government policies is unhappy with him!
Chuck Hagel is the right man for the job, who would reform the bloated bureaucracy and budget of the Pentagon, while using his talents, courage, and abilities to be an outstanding Secretary of Defense for Barack Obama, and defend Israel in a pinch, as any leader or cabinet member under any President would do! And the President, having been reelected with a clear popular vote majority a second time, is entitled to have the cabinet members he wants to serve him in his second term!