Hagel Has Consistently Opposed Sanctions

Hagel's refusal in Congress to vote for sanctions on supposedly rogue regimes deviates from the DC consensus

by John Glaser, December 17, 2012

Former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, rumored to be the leading candidate for the Obama administration’s next defense secretary has a history of opposing economic sanctions on countries like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, and Cuba.

Throughout his career, Hagel “has publicly supported the idea of engaging with rogue regimes and focusing on diplomacy before punitive measures,” reports Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy. While in Congress, he voted against several sanctions measures and argued vociferously against their effectiveness.

“Engagement is not appeasement. Diplomacy is not appeasement. Great nations engage. Powerful nations must be the adults in world affairs. Anything less will result in disastrous, useless, preventable global conflict,” Hagel said in a Brookings Institution speech in 2008.

Since rumors of his nomination arose, hawks in Washington have been harshly critical of Hagel’s foreign policy views, describing them pejoratively as “isolationist” or “non-interventionist.” His views, like his consistent refusal in Congress to vote for imposing sanctions on supposedly rogue regimes, are boldly defiant of the Washington consensus, but decidedly not “non-interventionist.”

Hagel, although a Republican, has been vocal in his opposition to war on Iran, and his explicitly opposition to sanctioning Iran appears to be a notable deviation from the Obama administration’s approach, which has centered on some of the most harsh and destructive sanctions in recent history.

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