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Chuck Hagel Fires Back at Critics

In first interview following nomination, defense secretary nominee has his say

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Defense Secretary Nominee Chuck Hagel(AP)

In an interview with the Lincoln Journal Star, Chuck Hagel–the former Nebraska senator and new nominee for defense secretary–responded to the weeks of criticism leveled at various aspects of his records as he gears up for what will likely be a rough nomination process.

At last, Hagel said, with his nomination announced by the president, he has an opportunity to set the record straight.

While he has been “hanging out there in no-man’s land unable to respond to charges, falsehoods and distortions,” Hagel said, a negative assessment of his record by critics and opponents took on a life of its own.

But the fact is that there is “not one shred of evidence that I’m anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel.”

“I didn’t sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counter-productive and didn’t solve a problem,” Hagel said.

Beyond some troubling statements, critics charged that Hagel’s failure to vote for non-binding resolutions about Israel and Iran signal his (at best) indifference toward important matters of defense with regard to Israel as well as Iran’s nuclear program. His supporters, largely unable to enter the fray given that Hagel’s nomination was a rumor for about six weeks, became more vocal over the weekend. On his vote against unilateral American sanctions on Iran, Hagel added this:

“I have not supported unilateral sanctions because when it is us alone they don’t work and they just isolate the United States,” he said. “United Nations sanctions are working. When we just decree something, that doesn’t work.”

“The distortions about my record have been astounding.”

Jon Chait has a great take on the decision to nominate Hagel, which he doesn’t entirely deplore, but like many, he is confused by. Especially the fact that Obama seems as if he’ll have to defend the parts of Hagel’s record that run counterpoise to his.

Why, though, should Obama have to defend positions he doesn’t agree with? Why waste political capital picking a fight that isn’t essential to any policy goals?

In other words, what are we missing here?

Earlier: Making the Case for Chuck Hagel
Hagel Says Critics Distort His Views on Israel, Iran
Nominating Hagel Most Un-Obama Thing Ever [NYMag]

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Cool_Romeo says:

Maybe Obama doesn’t disagree with those positions? Or maybe he’s looking forward to a fight?

pkbrandon says:

What are you missing?
Maybe Obama values competence more than argreement
(see Lincoln, Abraham).

politackler says:

Ah, Tablet’s funders (masters?) at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies are starting to get involved in the Hagel debate now! They’ve been uncharacteristically quiet, except for James Kirchik’s bringing up the gay issue back in December. But now I see that FDD has a clip of a Fox News interview with Mark Dubowitz on the FDD site. So I imagine that Kirchik, Lee Smith and other Tablet staffers will rev up their Hagel bashing now.

PhillipNagle says:

Obama belonged to an anti Israel church for twenty years, Now that he no longer needs Jewish money for his reelection, he can show his true colors.

During the past four years we have seen Bibi Netanyahu attempt to publicly influence the American Presidential election, publicly talk down to a sitting President of the United States, encourage continuing settlements in hotly contested areas, and…now…noticeably back away fro a Two State Solution back to his original One State one.

Supporting Israel (which I absolutely do) does not equate to supporting Bibi (which I do not). I believe Chuck Hagel might be just the right guy to deal with Bibi as he has shown he deals with us…in his face.

    LtcHoward says:

    Doug. These were the Jewish liberal Democratic talking points. None of them were true.

Watching_From_Lincoln says:

Look, I’m Jewish, a fourth generation Nebraskan, spent three years Enlisted and sixteen years as an Officer in the Army. I’ve conversed many, many times with Chuck Hagel, both during and after he served as my Senator, and I can say this with no qualms what so ever: Chuck Hagel is EXACTLY what we need as Secretary of Defense in the upcoming four years. He is neither anti-Semitic nor a gay basher. He does speak his mind, is pragmatic, and like a true Eisenhower Republican – is not afraid to step out of the Party Line and piss off a few people in the process when common sense says that the Party Line is just B.S. Chuck is able to own up to his mistakes, learn from them, and become the better person from them – something that is SO lacking in politics on both sides of the spectrum.

More importantly, as Defense spending HAS to be cut back deeply over the next few years, if we are to do something serious about this country’s deficit and debt, Chuck will have the ability to discern what is actually needed for this country’s changed role of our military and what is just more unneeded pork for the Defense Industry and Congressional home districts.

LtcHoward says:

As Iran watches the Obama-Kerry-Hagel assume control of US foreign policy, the signal is unmistakable

You don’t nominate a person to head the US military who says he is still haunted by Vietnam, said the effort in Afghanistan was “not sustainable at all,” opposed the effort to win the Iraq War, wants to negotiate with Iran’s ally in Gaza, and is proud of his ability to resist the “Jewish Lobby,” without knowing the signal it sends–particularly when you couple it with a nomination for sec/ state of someone similarly haunted (and known more recently for his continual attempts to engage Bashar al-Assad).

Obama’s message to Iran, Russia, North Korea, China, etc. is clear

    pkbrandon says:

    In other words, don’t appoint someone who will think about the consequences before acting.


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Chuck Hagel Fires Back at Critics

In first interview following nomination, defense secretary nominee has his say

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