Chuck Hagel’s Record on Terrorism, Israel, Iran

Chuck Hagel’s Record on Terrorism, Israel, Iran | Former GOP Senator Hagel is being considering by Obama for Secretary of Defense

Former GOP senator Chuck Hagel is rumored to be a leading candidate to be nominated as Secretary of Defense by the Obama administration, and his voting record is eliciting outrage on the right for being insufficiently hawkish on terrorism and insufficiently pro-Israel.

Despite initially voting for the authorization for the use of force against Iraq, Hagel became an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, he also seems to oppose the Obama administration’s military expansionism in Asia-Pacific, “wary of any strategy that smacks of ‘economic, political, and military containment’ of China: ‘this kind of belligerence would be a disaster for our two nations and for the world…. such a policy would fail,'” he has written.

The pro-Israel lobby in Washington is very unhappy about Hagel’s impending nomination. “Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite,” a senior Republican Senate aide told the Weekly Standard. The aide explains that “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.”

In an interview for Aaron David Miller’s 2008 book The Too Much Promised Land, Hagel said: “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” in a rather bland comment acknowledged by everyone but which borders on profanity in Washington.

Some have tried to capitalize on this comment, denoting Hagel’s use of the term “Jewish lobby” instead of  “Israel lobby.” But Miller, speaking to the Daily Beast’s Ali Gharib, defended Hagel and his comment, insisting those seizing upon the less politically correct formulation were simply out to smear him.

“That’s reckless commentary,” The Atlantic‘s Editor and friend of Hagel’s Steve Clemons told Gharib. “This is typical, that people get out and slander someone.”

Daniel Kurtzer, US ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush, also defended Hagel on this score. “I found him in all the years I served, including as ambassador to Israel, to be a supporter of Israel and a man also ready to discuss very frankly with the Israelis the concerns we had about certain
Israeli policies,” he told Politico.

And when questioned on his Israel record, Hagel said: “Let me clear something up here if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the constitution of the United States. Not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel.”

In October 2000, Hagel was one of only four Senators who refused to sign a letter expressing support for Israel during the second Palestinian intifada.

And in a July 2002 Washington Post op-ed, Hagel wrote that Palestinians could not be expected to make democratic reforms as long as “Israeli military occupation and settlement activity” continue, and that “Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace.”

In 2006, Hagel demanded President Bush call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s attacks in Lebanon, insisting “This madness must stop,” and accusing Israel of “the systematic destruction of an American friend  – the country and people of Lebanon.”

On issues of terrorism, Hagel is similarly reasonable – although in Washington his views are derided as extreme.

In August 2006, for example, Hagel, along with 12 other senators, refused to sign a letter asking the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. And in 2009, Hagel signed onto a letter urging President Obama to open direct negotiations with Hamas.

On Iran, too, Hagel seems to part with the hysterical belligerence of the crowd in Washington. In 2007, Hagel urged President Bush to engage in “direct, unconditional” talks with Iran, and gave a speech claiming that that “Continued hostile relations between the United States and Iran will have the effect of isolating the United States.”

“Hagel even flirts with the idea that an Iranian bomb wouldn’t be the end of the world,” according to Foreign Policy magazine. And he would be exactly right about that.

Hagel’s reappearance on the national stage is brand new and the Obama administration has not confirmed one way or the other whether they are actually considering him for Secretary of Defense. But if what the war hawks and Israel-firsters are complaining about his record accurately portrays his foreign policy views, he would be a welcome change to the one of the top positions in the country, even if it is unlikely that he would challenge the President’s most egregious foreign policy misdeeds.

Last 5 posts by John Glaser

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.

  • Anti_Govt_Rebel

    Undoubtedly Hagel's nomination is a trial balloon, but putting Hagel in Defense would signal a very welcome shift in US policy.
    But can his nomination stand up to "the Jewish lobby"?

    • Shirkley

      I say HAGEL FOR PRESIDENT! He would be a refreshing change.

    • curmudgeonvt

      Sorry…not buying. Obama has not given ANY indication that he intends in his second term to change one iota the way his administration looks at the US position with the world. A dovish SECDEF might sound optimistic but he's not the boss and there are still many on the boss's staff (closer to the boss) that prefer the interventionist policies that are currently in place. Now, if Obama was to come out now and state unequivocally that the US was going to remove ALL ISAF forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2014…well, now, that might mean something…but I ain't betting.

      • nomangepas

        I think you are right.

        There does seem to be a formula of clandestine interventionism- often through proxies, propaganda wars to lend legitimacy to the deed, the hue and cry of "human rights", "democracy", and "R2P", acts of terror against the civilian population, territorial dismemberment and balkanization, installation of puppet regimes, establishment of bases, resource development and management agreements (generally signed at gunpoint), though it has often turned out to be less than a "smashing success". However, over time, advisors can influence policy. Will it make a difference? Probably not, but maybe a little.

        As of now, I don't see us getting wise over our failed policies, or shamed over the criminality of it all. (I felt Obama's eloquence, and sincerity re: the victims and families in Newtown, but wondered how, at the same time, he could be so coldblooded and disingenuous when it came to children killed in institutional terrorist attacks- often ours or those of our allies, NATO, Israel, Turkey, GCC, etc.- and not feel the same sorrow and compassion for those victims.) We are still wired to fight our "war on terra", and are more than ready to give prizes (and our money) to movies that propagandize the social benefits of torture.

  • Stevo

    I don't know much of anything about this guy … but I like what I'm hearing so far!

  • nomangepas

    Maybe it is time for the Administration to take a real stand and force the issue in Congress. The public would show its support for a Hagel nomination, though one wonders whether he would not be better as Secretary of State. However, I'm not holding my breath, because Susan Rice has for years been a strong neocon in the Albright mold, and is very close to Obama- so close that her positions on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, and the rest of Africa, outrageous as they have been, have not only reflected Obama's foreign policy, but much of his personal thinking, as well. So, I'm not holding my breath or expecting too much with any appointment. As for AIPAC and the Israeli Lobby, Americans are deeply concerned about the blatant manipulation of our foreign policy and our economy, and would like to see more transparency with the lobby and more focus on our national interests.

  • the lion

    Just wondering if this will lead to a recess appointment, with a significant change in attitudes, Israel has been thumbing its nose again at the President, with the settlement matters, and what is the best way to deal with Israeli matters in the US Capitol, but by subterfuge.

    Recess Appointment of Hagel, Presidential order that AIPAC and its associated entities register as a Foreign Lobby group along with any other new group that arises, and a good way along to making Israel impotent in controlling US Politics. They of course will cry out anti semetism, the cry must be returned as akin to treasonous activities by those who do, Are they more worried about Israel than the UNited States, effectively hit them with the much dreaded current version of UnAmerican Activities, Members of Congress have a constitutional duty to America first and foremost NOT to a country that has no formal treaties with the United States!

  • Augustbrhm

    Let us hope this voice of reason and comitment to the US constitution does not get assasinated.

  • Yonatan

    He is proposed as the Secretary of Defense for the US, not Israel.

  • skulz fontaine

    So, who is this "senior Republican Senate aide?" Nameless buffoon needs to shut his yip. "We will make sure every American knows he (Hagel) is an antiSemite." We?" Does this mouthy freak have a mouse in 'his' pocket? It's boring and tiresome. AntiSemite this and antiSemite that. Silly Jews aren't Semite. Not any more. Northern European types with a really pissy attitude.

    • A. G. Phillbin

      Your kind don't help their "cause" with your gibbering "racial" idiocy. Quoth YOU:

      "Silly Jews aren't Semite. Not any more. Northern European types with a really pissy attitude."

      Idiot. Anti-semitism is NOT defined as being "against the Semites." The character who coined the phrase (in description of his own views) back in the 19th century was referring only to Jews, not Arabs. Get a dictionary, and cut the fake erudition and folk etymology. And by the way, most Jews in the US are NOT descended from Northern Europe. Try Eastern Europe.

      Antiwar.com doesn't need your verbal "help," and neither does Senator Hagel. Got that, fool?

  • dublinokarra

    A senior Republican aide- “Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy.''
    If it doesn't exist why should 'they' be unhappy with him and vow to scuttle every effort to have in the role of U.S defense secretary?
    A free and democratic U.S is what the world needs but an occupied U.S government is the most dangerous state in world.

    • TRUTH ALLOWED LOL

      We need men with these veiws and a change to almost all aspects of American policy,expecially foriegn policy.

  • RickR30

    Hagel for President! I used to like him in the past and have not kept up with his views in a while. Good to see that he's still a good guy.

  • Andrewp111

    Me thinks his nomination is in deep trouble before it even happens.

  • Marangu6

    He would make a good Secretary of Defense, but he would be an even better Secretary of State, if he sticks to his principles after taking office. Maybe there is still hope after all!

    • TRUTH ALLOWED LOL

      As sad as it is the only real way to change America is through a revolution that most likely will be violent.Good things come from hard work and sacrifice even blood of good people that will fight for real freedom.I would LOVE a peacefull approach,but it's very unlikely.History shows us these facts great Empires actuall bad ones depending on how you are fall because of it's people getting sick and tierd of the tyrants that run their countrys.It may happen other ways,but I belive it will start with the government trying to do a Gun grab taking America right to bear arms away.After that if Americans allowed it,and I don't belive they will America that resembles the USSR from 1917 to 1980with it's collapes in 91.

      • TRUTH ALLOWED LOL

        The Military has less than half a million soldier and when a poll was done 40% said they would forcefull take Americans guns of orderd.Well the fact is their are over 300 million Americans along with the 60% of the military polled said they would not take the guns,because the fact is it is illegal.The Military does not stand a chance and they no it,after they disarm people,if it was allowed they would easly win.Thats they way freedom is supposed to be the government and police work for the people and should be scared of the people if thier is a reason to be worried.

        • TRUTH ALLOWED LOL

          I don't think Americans or any country is really free.the fact is the small bit of freedom left America in 1913 when the FED was allowed to print fake money that has no worth and loan it to the people with interest.The few countrys that printed their money free including America did great,and still would if Bankers were not the real people running the countrys.The greatest example is Hitlers germany were he got 7 million people all unemployed back to work in a little less than 2 years.Thats something that was never done before or since.If you want to no how really runs your countrys ask yourself how can not be talked about,and you have your awnser.I REALLY HOPE ALL 3 COMMENTS SHOW AS i'VE FOLLOWED EVERY RULE AND IT'S IMPORTANT.sORRY ABOUT THE CAPITALS ACCIDENT.

  • John V. Walsh

    Good piece. But I have my doubts that Hagel can get past the Lobby and even more doubts that Obomba will consider him.
    It is especially heartening to read of his sensible attitude to China. The US has already decided to wake the beast of Japanese militarism which is insane. Is the US sure that once fully reawakened, it might find the puppets of the US, S. Korea, the Philippines, Australia more tempting targets than China? And even if not, what a barbaric ploy to set the two Asian powerhouses at each others throats! Is there no end to the atrocities the US will plot?

  • Marat

    Hagel sounds good. I doubt if Obama could find any many Democrats free from lobbyist influence.I am sure that Hillary worships at their shrine or Ark, or Tabernacle or whatever.

  • abe

    israel is the maniac menace of the world!

  • Pingback: Hagel, Kerry, and Obama’s Second Term « Antiwar.com Blog()

  • Bruce Richardson

    The world needs Chuck Hagel…imagine, a well-informed someone with the ..lls to confront Israeli' aggression, terror and hegemony. He gets my vote!!

  • Pingback: Petition Urges Obama to Nominate Hagel for Defense Secretary « Antiwar.com Blog()