Monday, January 7, 2013

Is Chuck Hagel Pro Israel?

I am not a big fan of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. I voted for him once but never more than that. One of the biggest problems I had with the Senator was his dovish stand on Iran. While publicly never taking the military response off the table, privately he was 100% against such an action had it ever become necessary during his tenure in the Senate he likely would have stood to road block such an effort. Fortunately for us all that scenario never became a reality while he served in the Senate, but if he is appointed and approved as this nation's new Secretary of Defense he could well face just such a situation over the next four years, and many, like myself, aren't sure if he is up to the task.

His time spent serving this nation as a soldier in Vietnam colored his view of the military greatly and caused him to be not the biggest supporter of troop actions once he became a U.S. Senator. He believes, some think justly, that the U.S. military complex is gluttonous and bloated and in need of severe trimming, a position that aligns him perfectly with President Obama's desire to make deep cuts in defense spending over the next ten years; cuts that many believe will lead to weakening this country's capability to not only keep peace in the world but thwart its primary responsibility of defending the nation. There is one all important area where me and the former Senator or in total agreement. He is staunchly pro-Israel, even though some of his past colleagues think otherwise. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stated that Hagel, if confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Defense, would be "the most antagonistic Secretary of Defense toward the State of Israel in our nation's history." Supporting Graham's fears is the The Republican Jewish Coalition. I've read the so-called slap in the face but what both failed to do is mention what else was tacked on to these bills and proposals that may have caused Mr. Hagel to vote against or abstain. So, I'm not too sure what Mr. Graham or the Coalition are basing this prognostication on. In fact, during his time in D.C. Hagel was one of the most outspoken leaders in the Senate that always stood in the gap for Israel. His record is explemplary as it relates to his ongoing support of our only real ally in that region of the world, but it goes beyond the fact that Israel is a democratic ally. Hagel has a foundational belief in the right of Israel's existence, it's place in the world and its near prophetic importance on world events.

Hagel and Israel share the same political values and understand that America's relationship with Israel is deeper than simply a special relationship but can be summed up best by Woodrow Wilson Center mideast scholar Dr. Aaron David Miller as "an exclusive relationship with Israel."

This kind of attitude toward Israel by such an important cabinet position as leader of the Department of Defense, the post for which Hagel is under serious consideration by President Obama, would be quite refreshing, particularly after such wishy-washy displays of support by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Hagel has been a consistent hardliner against terrorist groups like Hamas and has gone public both verbal and with legislation declaring his firm belief that the U.S. cannot condone the existence of Hamas as a serious deliberative party with Israel for peace until such time as Hamas makes known to the world that it fully recognizes Israel's right to exist, negotiates with real intention toward a peaceful two-State status with its Jewish neighbor, and renounces all acts of violence against the Jewish State.

When any person is nominated for a diplomatic or cabinet posting there will always be aspects of that person's past actions, words or personality that put off many from full support of such a nominee. Chuck Hagel has several of those "put-off" characteristics that normally would negate my support for him as our new Secretary of Defense. However, his avid support for Israel is the strongest redeeming quality in the man that speaks volumes to me and causes me to offer my support for his nomination to this all important cabinet position in the Obama Administration.

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