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'The Case Against Hagel'

1:03 PM, Jan 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Texas senator John Cornyn explains "The Case against Chuck Hagel":

Whether or not Chuck Hagel is confirmed as our next defense secretary, his nomination has already done serious damage to U.S. credibility on Iran, thereby emboldening the most dangerous regime in the Middle East. To limit the damage, President Obama should choose someone else to lead the Pentagon.

After all, the former Nebraska senator is the same person who has consistently opposed sanctions against Iran. He is the same person who wanted Washington to support Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. The same person who voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group (at a time when the IRGC was orchestrating the murder of U.S. troops in Iraq). The same person who refused to sign a letter asking the European Union to label Hezbollah (an Iranian proxy) a terror group. The same person who urged President Bush to offer Iran “direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks.” The same person who called for establishing a U.S. diplomatic mission in Tehran. The same person who dismissed “a military strike against Iran” as “not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” The same person who wrote that a nuclear Iran might be tolerable because “sovereign nation-states possessing nuclear weapons capability (as opposed to stateless terrorist groups) will often respond with some degree of responsible, or at least sane, behavior.”

During his years in the Senate, Hagel’s opposition to Iran sanctions placed him in a very, very small minority. For example, only one senator joined him in voting against sanctions in 2001, and only one Senate Banking Committee member joined him in rejecting a different sanctions package in 2008. Simply put: He has zero credibility on perhaps the biggest foreign-policy challenge of President Obama’s second term.

Consider how his nomination was interpreted by Iranian journalists and government officials. Press TV, a Tehran-based propaganda network, noted with satisfaction that the “anti-Israel” Hagel is known for “his criticism of Washington’s anti-Iran policies” and “has consistently opposed any plan to launch [a] military strike against Iran.” Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry responded to the Hagel announcement by declaring, “We hope that practical changes will be created in the U.S. foreign policy and . . . that the U.S. officials will favor peace instead of warmongering.”

Just for good measure, Al Jazeera published an article headlined “Obama Defeats the Israel Lobby.” Is this really the impression we want to foster among Middle Eastern governments? Of course not. But what did President Obama expect? Not only has Hagel been a persistent critic of Iran sanctions, he has also displayed a stubborn hostility to America’s closest Middle Eastern ally.

Whole thing here.

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