As a neocon hawk (with some reservations), I'm not happy with President Obama's selection of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Others have eloquently presented the case against the former Nebraska Senator and have demonstrated that the main reason he was selected by Obama was to preside over the shrinking of the U.S. military (and perhaps to have another "yes man" around who will support the President as he pulls back from U.S. allies and commitments around the world). Indeed, anyone who can seriously believe in the discredited "linkage" theory of Middle-East peace, which Martin Kramer so ably dismantes here, should be laughed out of any high position in the U.S. security establishment in this day and age (hence my use of the anachronistic "hieromanical" -- it seemed to work with the illiteration).
But I come not to bury Chuck Hagel (well, he has already buried himself for most conservatives), but to offer a qualified defense of at least a couple of aspects of his selection that deserve conservative praise (you know where you can get the full-throated defense). Unfortunately, Hagel himself is running away from his own views on abortion (government funding for service members) and homosexuality. Indeed, Hagel wouldn't get the nomination unless he apologized for his previous stands on so-called "gay rights" and the comments he made about Ambassador Hormel. Here is what one activist group had to say about Hagel even after his grovelling for Obama:
Hagel's recent apology for his insulting comments about the nomination of James Hormel as U.S. Ambassador to Luxemborg were hollow, politically expedient, and nakedly gratuitous. The Defense Department has made important strides toward creating an inclusive Armed Forces, but has miles left to go -- nominating Hagel to lead the Defense Department would be a staggering step backward for the LGBT community and an upheaval of President Obama's past support for the LGBT community.
During his years in Congress, Hagel consistently opposed the advancement of civil rights for LGBT Americans. A Hagel nomination would throw President Obama's support for LGBT civil rights into deep suspicion. Following yesterday's signing of an NDAA that includes a new "conscience clause" designed to permit discrimination in the military by chaplains, the LGBT community is looking for leadership at the Defense Department that will remove discriminatory practices from the Armed Forces -- not cement those practices.
GetEQUAL strongly recommends that President Obama nominate a new leader at the Pentagon who will fully and fairly implement the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and who will provide leadership to create anti-discrimination policies that will extend respect and dignity for LGBT service members and their families, extend benefits to same-sex partners of service members, and provide a pathway for transgender service members to finally serve their country openly and honestly.
He sounds great based on this screed!
The enemy of my enemy can sometimes be my friend, although in the case of Hagel, it appears he is all too ready to do the Obama Adminstration's bidding and ignore his previous concerns about the dangers of gays serving openly in the military (not to mention other sensitive U.S. government positions).
In addition, I also think Hagel was unfairly criticized by the usually astute William Kristol who said this about a previous Hagel comment:
"People say we're not fighting for oil. Of course we are," said the Republican Senator from Nebraska Chuck Hagel to law students of Catholic University last September. "They talk about America's national interest. What the hell do you think they're talking about? We're not there for figs."
This rounds out a Hagelian worldview—but I also wonder if it could be the straw that breaks the back of Hagel's chances...After all, this vulgar and disgusting charge has always been out of even the anti-war mainstream. It's something President Obama, an opponent of the Iraq war, has never (to my knowledge) said. Obama thought the war a mistake for various reasons. But he never bought in to the far-left trope that it was, secretly, a war for oil.
What's more, isn't Hagel’s statement a direct attack on the motives and honesty of those senators who supported the war—including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry? Indeed, what does it say about Chuck Hagel, who voted to authorize the war in October 2002? He knew it was a war for oil, didn't say so at the time, but voted for it anyway? And then, a few years later, at the height of the fighting by American soldiers in Iraq, he proclaims with false braggadocio the alleged truth that it's all just a war for oil?
Now, perhaps the good Senator from Nebraska could have phrased the quote slightly differently, but I don't think Kristol is giving Hagel a charitable reading. When I read the quote I simply thought that Hagel was stating a geo-strategic fact about the Middle-East which happens to be true -- the United States has vital interests in the region because there is lots of oil there and our economy depends on that oil. That's why we aren't passing U.N. resolutions and establishing no-fly zones as the Congo collapses or Sudan and South Sudan fight a civil war for years. U.S. (and world) interests just aren't served by worrying about every single conflict around the globe. The fact that Hagel stated this somewhat crudely is no reason to malign his character -- there are plenty of other reasons for that!!!