New U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, whom Republican critics have sought to portray as anti-Israel, will meet Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon on Tuesday for his first face-to-face visit with a foreign counterpart.
President Barack Obama bade a fond farewell to retiring U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a ceremony on Friday and voiced strong support for his nominated successor, Chuck Hagel, who was attacked by Republicans at a contentious Senate confirmation hearing last week.
Chuck Hagel’s cautious testimony may not have won converts during his contentious nomination hearing for U.S. defense secretary, but it appeared on Friday not to have cost support he will need to be confirmed as the new Pentagon chief.
As nomination hearings continued, Hagel was forced to address his comment that the “Jewish lobby” and its influence in D.C. leads to “dumb” actions regarding the Middle East.
Republican lawmakers harshly attacked Chuck Hagel on Thursday at a contentious hearing over his nomination to become the next U.S. defense secretary, questioning his judgment on war strategy and putting him broadly on the defensive.
Chuck Hagel said he backed the U.S. policy of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon as he testified on Thursday before a skeptical Senate panel considering his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next secretary of defense.
In answers prepared for his Senate hearings, Chuck Hagel says he is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, even if this means military action.
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel argued for incorporating economic development in Iran into US foreign policy in a 2009 “Morning Joe” appearance: MIKE BARNICLE: Given Iran’s geography, given its geopolitical importance and you just mentioned up top, that we are indeed in a global economic crisis. How does the global economic crisis, as it affects Iran, help us? CHUCK HAGEL: Well, I have always believed, Mike, that it’s kind of like a deal that you make with any situation in life—everybody has to get something out of it. What you do is drive to the core of the common interest of a country. We have some common interests with Iran. For example, Afghanistan; when we first invaded Afghanistan, we worked very closely with Iran in the first year and a half, two years, on intelligence sharing and gathering on that border for a lot of reasons—it wasn’t because they supported the United States, it was in their interest. And to your question, on the economics, their position, their geopolitical position, especially with the resources they have in oil and natural gas, they need development, they need investment, they need incentivizing, all of that. There are ways to work that into the more comprehensive strategic foreign policy for both countries, and the region.
From his lonely position as an early Republican critic of the Iraq war, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel sometimes lectured his more timid Senate colleagues. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes,” he told them.
President Barack Obama will nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be his defense secretary, and an announcement could come on Monday, a congressional Democratic aide said on Sunday.