Washington Post challenges Washington’s Pentagon candidate

Joining several senators objecting to Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary, the Washington Post wonders if his extreme positions on critical issues (Iran, Israel) won’t serve as an obstacle to Obama’s policy

Yitzhak Benhorin


Though US President Barack Obama has yet to officially name Chuck Hagel as the defense secretary’s successor, several pro-Israel senators have already announced their objection to his nomination and said they would act to prevent it.

Chuck Hagel Photo: AP

Chuck Hagel – Photo: AP

On Wednesday, the Washington Post joined the opposing voices in an editorial claiming Hagel was not the right choice for the position.

The reason stated by Washington Post was Hagel’s radical stand on Iran and the Middle East, which was clearly evident when he repeatedly voted against enforcing sanctions to halt Iran’s race obtaining nuclear weapon and doubted the use of force to compel it to negotiate.

“Mr. Obama may be forced to contemplate military action if Iran refuses to negotiate or halt its uranium-enrichment program. He will need a defense secretary ready to support and effectively implement such a decision,” said the Washington Post .

In addition, the newspaper suggested Obama should consider former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy as a leading candidate, and quoted Congress sources who said that once US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice withdrew her nomination for secretary of state, Flournoy becomes a prominent choice, gaining further support form Israel’s friends as she acted to broaden US-Israel security cooperation.

הייגל לצד אובמה. הנשיא יבהל מהביקורת? (צילום: רויטרס)

Hagel next to Obama – Photo: Reuters

Hagel, a former Nebraska senator and a Vietnam War veteran, commented on Israel-Lebanon 2006 war, accusing Israel of “systematic destruction of an American friend – the country and people of Lebanon.” and in 2007, Hagel voted against designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

In 2009, he signed a paper urging President Barack Obama to advance a Hamas-Fatah unity government. Hagel also refused to be included in AIPAC‘s statements of support of Israel.

In case nominated by Obama, Hagel will “have to answer questions about why he thought it was a good idea to directly negotiate with Hamas and why he objected to the European Union declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization,” said Republican Senator and Senate Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham.

“A lot of times hearings are just for show. But a Hagel nomination hearing “will really matter,” he added.

Graham is not the only person doubting Hagel’s nomination. Susan Rice admitted she was concerned by some of Hagel’s statements regarding Iran, Hamas and Israel.

Alternately, Senator John McCain claimed Hagel’s full records would be examined and decision will be made only once he is officially named applicant.


View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4321855,00.html