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Chuck Hagel Photo: AP
Chuck Hagel Photo: AP

Washington Post vs. Pentagon candidate

Joining several senators objecting Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary, major newspaper wonders if his fringe positions on critical issues won't serve as obstacle to Obama's policy

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 12.19.12, 10:16 / Israel News

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.


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


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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.

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

Hagel next to Obama (Photo: Reuters)


"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.


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. Junior United States Senator Susan Collins 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.



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