From the day he was announced as President Obama’s nomination for secretary of defense, the feeling in many circles was that Chuck Hagel really isn’t qualified and certainly there must be more able candidates. Why did the president select Hagel? Well, he’s a Republican, an Obama friend of sorts, agrees with the president on many defense issues, and gives the administration somewhat of a nonpartisan aroma.
He’s being painted a favorable color since he was an enlisted man, served in combat in the Vietnam War, and knows firsthand the horrors of war. Those are fine qualities and experience attached to him, but it doesn’t mean he is qualified to head the Defense Department. He did serve in the U.S. Senate.
When questioned last week during his confirmation hearing, he was something less than impressive. He’s loaded with antiwar sentiment, which he has expressed at various times, and that makes one wonder if he really comprehends how dangerous the world we live in is. Would he act appropriately when this country is threatened or has a vital interest in a country that faces threats? He plays on the same “softie” team captained by Obama that believes in staying in the back rather than leading.
He wasn’t clear or doesn’t seem to know about this country’s position regarding Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. He said he supported the administration’s policy of containment toward Iran. Through a note handed to him, Hagel changed his testimony and said he agreed with the administration’s policy of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On a number of other positions he once espoused and now rejects, such as saying Iran had a legitimate government, Hagel appeared unprepared and uninformed.
There was criticism that the questioning of Hagel was too rough and not respectful to a former combat veteran. Those statements didn’t show much depth since Americans want someone who is qualified, understands defense budgeting, has the wisdom and guts to run the Pentagon, understands how to deal with countries that pose a threat not only to the United States but to our freedom-loving friends, has some political acumen and who recognizes what we must do to protect this country.
Hagel does not seem to have much below his surface. We say again, he is not qualified. His confirmation hearing, in which he renounced former positions, openly said he wished he had edited himself, profiled a man who simply lacks the qualifications for such an important position.