The Case Against Hagel

Pete Marovich/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Some time has been gained to consider: Is former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel qualified to be Secretary of Defense? The number is growing of those who say the answer is “No.” Today, Heritage’s James Jay Carafano outlined the case against confirming Hagel.

Carafano, vice president for foreign policy, writes:

The Hagel nomination deserves to be rejected on its own merit. Simply put, Senator Hagel lacks the necessary executive skills and experience, embraces naïve and dangerous foreign policies, and empathizes with sworn foes, all while showing antipathy toward loyal allies (i.e. Israel). This makes him manifestly unsuitable for this critical position.

In addition, beyond his Vietnam experience, Hagel has never been a leader on defense issues. No one has questioned Hagel’s honorable service in Vietnam or his later work on veterans’ issues. But when it comes to strong leadership when sequestration threatens the country’s military readiness, nothing in his record suggests that Hagel would be the right man for the job. As noted by The Weekly Standard, editorializing on Hagel’s Senate record, “those legislative achievements, intellectual insights, or management triumphs don’t exist.”

“America is at a delicate moment of transition in defense policy and spending,” Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, told Politico this week. “Sen. Hagel has not proposed serious alternatives during these, or other, defense policy fights; nor has he made any significant contribution—either in office or out—to the even more fundamental questions about the future of U.S. defense posture, the shape and function of the defense establishment, or chronic and complicated spending problems at the Pentagon.”

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Hagel’s grueling confirmation hearing revealed a shortage of political capital that would undermine Hagel’s ability to sell difficult policy choices to his former colleagues in the Senate. On Friday, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, Senator Buck McKeon (R-CA) told reporters the Obama White House should “to go back to the drawing board” for the sake of not antagonizing Congress even further and look for a more viable candidate for Secretary of Defense. Good advice. The President can and should do better.

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