First of all, the only time a Secretary of Defense nominee has been rejected by the Senate was when alleged personal issues derailed John Tower's bid in 1989.
Furthermore, the former Republican senator from Nebraska has too strong a resume to be derailed by a few maverick actions. Let's go over a few highlights.
Everyone's freaking out about Hagel's stances and comments concerning Israel, despite him repetaedly voting for Israeli military appropriations bills and receiving high praise from the Israeli officials with whom he worked.
Hagel quotes in the Aaron David Miller book, "The Much Too Promised Land," seem to be the central crux of the Hagel-is-an-anti-Semite mud slinging.
“I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that."
He mentioned a "Jewish Lobby" and its efforts to intimidate anyone who dare deviate from what's generally accepted to be 'support' for Israel.
"I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel,” he said.
In 2009, he urged President Barack Obama to push for a Hamas-Fatah unity government in Palestine.
Chuck has refrained from voting to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists, and has also expressed that Israel ought to try and use diplomacy rather than military might to settle its differences with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
These two decisions drew sharp rebuke from many in the conservative sphere, politician and analyst alike.
John B. Judis of The New Republic summed up Hagel's foreign policy stand best in a December piece:
Hagel first took issue with George W. Bush’s foreign policy after the President used the term “axis of evil” to describe Iran, Iraq and North Korea in his 2002 State of the Union address. Hagel thought the term precluded any attempt at diplomacy.
Hagel, like Colin Powell before him, will likely be conservative when it comes to future troop deployments.
Having fought an endless "war of attrition" strategy in Vietnam, Hagel is more apt toward diplomacy rather than a policy of complete isolation and eradication of foreign entities that offer resistance.
During an interview in 2002 about fighting in Vietnam, Hagel said, “(I was) thinking to myself, you know, if I ever get out of all of this, I am going to do everything I can to assure that war is the last resort that we, a nation, a people, calls upon to settle a dispute."
Chuck Hagel brings a piece of Vietnam with him everywhere — literally — he still has shrapnel stuck in his chest from Vietnam, where he fought side by side with his brother Tom as an Army infantrymen.
Tom initially thought the shrapnel, from a mine which exploded on the patrol, would kill Chuck. Luckily, Tom successfully staunched the flow of blood.
A month later, Chuck returned the favor, after a mine striking his and Tom's armored vehicle left Tom incapacitated. Chuck sizzled the skin off the left side of his face to rescue Tom, then helped beat back a vicious enemy assault.
Chuck's awards include two Purple Hearts, a Vietnam Cross for Gallantry and an Army Commendation Medal.
Hagel is close with Obama:
Hagel was open to running for vice president with Obama in 2008. He didn't get the offer, but nonetheless his political bromance with Obama continued.
From Marc Ambinder's great brief of their relationship in The Weekly:
Hagel was the head of Obama's intelligence advisory board, and was a frequent informal "red cell" brain that Obama privately turned to when he wanted a second opinion. He has been picking Hagel's brain on subjects as diverse as Afghanistan, China, special operations force posture, and intelligence for several years now. (Hagel has all the required clearances.)
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