The case against Hagel
By Jim Inhofe
Published: Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 8:59 p.m.
Our military and national security interests are at a critical juncture. As Chuck Hagel's former colleague, I know that he is a good man with a record of service and sacrifice that deserves respect.
While his service is commendable, the lens through which his nomination as Defense secretary must be considered needs to be broader and more refined. Whether he is the right person to lead Defense should be determined by his judgment, his fundamental view of America's role in the world and his assessment of the military required to support this role.
After carefully reviewing his record, I am unable to support his nomination.
President Barack Obama is unyielding in his determination to oversee significant reductions to the size and resources of our military. Such a course would have an enormous impact on the capabilities and readiness of our servicemen and women to operate in a world that becomes more complex and dangerous each day. Simply retreating from America's leadership role in the world and shrinking our military will not make Americans safer.
I fear that Hagel will be a staunch advocate for, or even accelerate, the continuation of this administration's misguided policies.
The most immediate threat facing Defense is sequestration, which, if allowed to occur, will result in drastic across-the-board cuts to most major budget accounts. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has stated that these cuts would have a “catastrophic” and “devastating” effect on the military. I couldn't agree more.
Hagel, however, does not seem to share this view. The Financial Times reported in December that he said, “There's a tremendous amount of bloat in the Pentagon, and that has to be scaled back.” I strongly disagree and believe that averting the outcomes of Defense sequestration must be the government's top priority.
And on many of the security challenges facing U.S. interests around the world, Hagel's record is deeply troubling. Too often, it seems, he is willing to subscribe to a worldview that is predicated on appeasing our adversaries while shunning our friends.
In 2000, when nearly every senator joined a letter to President Bill Clinton affirming U.S. solidarity with Israel in the face of Palestinian aggression, Hagel was one of just four who refused to sign. In 2001, he was one of just two senators who voted against a bill extending harsh sanctions against Iran.
Hagel has also been an outspoken supporter of nuclear disarmament and the Global Zero Movement, which seeks a world free of nuclear weapons. At a time when North Korea's belligerent actions threaten our allies and Iran's pursuit of a nuclear-weapons capability risks the stability of the Middle East, the security of our nation and that of our allies require the United States to be vigilant with our nuclear weapons and defense systems.
While I respect Hagel's continued willingness to serve his country, I feel we are too philosophically opposed on the most pressing issues confronting the security of our nation. Issues related to our nation's Defense spending, international engagement and support for allies and nuclear modernization are just some examples where we are far apart.
Jim Inhofe, a U.S. senator of Oklahoma, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Taillon among 6 Pirates send to minor league camp
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- Pittsburgh among 14 cities partnering to improve education
- Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series
- Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL