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Wicker: Hagel 'Sends the Wrong Signal to Our Allies and Adversaries Around the World'

10:46 PM, Jan 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Roger Wicker, a senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, writes in Politico:

The bitter tone of gridlock in Washington has left many Americans hoping for a more collaborative environment to face the country’s most pressing challenges. Changes in the president’s Cabinet presented a prime opportunity for coming together. Instead of seeking consensus, President Barack Obama has forced confrontation with the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be America’s next secretary of defense.

Unlike outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was approved unanimously by the Senate, Hagel is expected to provoke a divisive confirmation process — at a time when Congress should be focused on urgent budget issues that could dramatically change America’s defense strategy and capabilities.

If not averted, disastrous military cuts are set to go into effect less than two months from now. The impact threatens to jeopardize military readiness and puts more than 1 million American jobs on the line. Doubts that Congress and the White House can reach an agreement have already prompted the Pentagon to order cutbacks, including a hiring freeze on civilian workers and slashing costs from military base operations.

A better choice for the country’s top defense post would be a leader with mainstream appeal and unequivocal bipartisan support. A contentious confirmation process does nothing to strengthen America’s defense capabilities and global pre-eminence. With so much at stake in the coming weeks, the president’s controversial pick sends the wrong signal to our allies and adversaries around the world.

To be sure, Hagel is a respected Vietnam veteran who has served our country with honor. But the merits of his military service, although admirable, do not dismiss a record of questionable positions and sentiments reflecting a polarizing worldview, which could have far-reaching implications for the Defense Department.

Whole thing here.

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