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October 19, 2008
Hagel for Defense Secretary if Obama wins?
Senator Obama has leaked names of potential Cabinet picks to the Times of London. Among the revelations: Senator Chuck Hagel has been "tipped as defence secretary". This would be seen as reaching across the aisle since Hagel is-at least nominally-a Republican.
Many on the right would designate him a RINO (Republican in Name Only) since he has often taken positions that rankle fellow Republicans. He opposed the surge in Iraq, for example.
Furthermore, concerns may arise in other quarters.
Americans who support the American-Israel relationship (and this includes millions of Christians) may look in askance at the selection of Senator Hagel. He has compiled a record towards our embattled ally that raises questions about his views and the likely advice he may present to a President Obama.
Hagel has a record of being "weak on terrorism" according to the New York Sun (now sadly closed, but a paper that the Obama campaign used periodically to burnish his pro-Israel bona fides because it once ran an editorial supportive of Obama on the issue of Israel. The campaign ignored many op-eds and editorials that did not reflect so well on Senator Obama on this issue).
Areas of concern, according to the New York Sun: hat motivated their columns on Hagel:
Senator Hagel often appears before Arab-American groups to air his views regarding the Middle East. Among the gems of wisdom: support for Israel shouldn't be automatic. .
He has also joined a chorus of people surrounding Barack Obama who have made derogatory remarks about the so-called Jewish Lobby.
Says Hagel: "The political reality is that... the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here." This audio should be heard to truly gauge his own feelings.
Google "Chuck Hagel and Israel" for a history of his views.
Note his use of the term "Jewish Lobby". There are many millions of Americans who are not Jewish, who are also active in supporting the American-Israel relationship.
As Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel would play a key role in working with his Israeli counterparts when formulating strategies that would promote our mutual interests in the region. The Israeli and American defense industries and departments have a long record of working closely together-an alliance that has been mutually beneficial and that has proven crucial in giving Israel the tools she has needed to defend herself from a wide range of adversaries boasting of her coming destruction.
Israel's access to America's arsenal of high tech defense goods have given her the qualitative edge that is vital in ensuring her safety and security against numerically superior enemies with vast oil wealth at their disposal. Israel's access to X-Band radar technology and anti-ballistic missiles (facilitated by my own Congressman-Mark Kirk) have been the fruits of this cooperation, as has been Israel's ability to buy advanced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes.
Will Chuck Hagel change this policy of cooperation? Samantha Power, a likely foreign policy key player in an Obama Administration, certainly wants to use this type of leverage on Israel.*
These sort of joint programs often have to have the approval of the Defense Secretary. Will Chuck Hagel be willing to continue the long tradition of America helping her only true ally in the region? Will he use the threat of terminating or slowing down such cooperation as a means to exert leverage? Will he work expeditiously to supply Israel with the defense items she needs when attacked (as Richard Nixon did when he ordered massive quantities of weapons to be airlifted to Israel during the 1973 War)?
If past is prologue, I think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned if Barack Obama appoints Chuck Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense.