As the Senate prepares to hold a January 31 confirmation hearing for their former colleague Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, an alarming paradox has emerged. Iran – the "Death to America" Islamic regime – is effusive with praise, while a large group of retired U.S. military commanders have "deep concerns" and have taken a highly unusual public position in opposition to Hagel's nomination.
- Sen. Hagel’s support for further cuts to the defense budget. Sen. Hagel stated in late August 2011 that the Pentagon is “bloated” and needs to be “pared down”, contrary to Sec. Panetta’s and Chairman Dempsey’s views that sequestration – the additional hundreds of billions in across-the-board cuts to defense that go well beyond the $787 billion in cuts already sustained by the Department since Sec. Gates’ tenure – would be “disastrous for the defense budget” and “very high risk” to national security;
- Sen. Hagel’s support for the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Sen. Hagel is a public supporter of the “Global Zero” Initiative, the goal of which is the “elimination of all nuclear weapons.” This stance is ill-advised for any Secretary of Defense, as Russia and China continue to modernize their nuclear capabilities while North Korea and Iran move closer to obtaining them.
- Sen. Hagel’s hostility towards Israel. Sen. Hagel has demonstrated an abiding hostility towards Israel, a view that would be detrimental to ournational defense and perhaps perilous to our only stable, reliable ally in the Middle East were he to become Secretary.
- Sen. Hagel’s outlook towards Iran. Sen. Hagel repeatedly opposed sanctions against Iran while serving in the Senate, and in 2006 stated that "a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option” – an ill-advised statement that undercuts the effectiveness of both diplomatic and military policies to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities.