Already wounded and bleeding profusely, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination may have been dealt a mortal blow on Wednesday when the Senate suddenly postponed the vote on his confirmation. Citing problems with newly disclosed comments by Hagel on Israel, and questions about his business dealings, Armed Services Committee Chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced the vote would not take place until next week at the earliest.
Hagel’s 2007 address to The National Council on US – Arab Relations came to light yesterday after the organization published a copy of the speech and released an audio tape. Hagel told his audience that the United States must hold unconditional talks with the Iranian Government and the US needs to “reverse optics” in its relationship with close ally, Israel, if America wants to restore its credibility as an honest broker for Middle East peace.
During his speech, Hagel made an alarming comment that echos the sentiments of those who engage in racial hatred of the Jewish people and of those nations who deny that Israel has a right to exist.
“There’s no question in the Arab-Israeli issue that Israel is a nation today as a result of the United States.”
In plain words, Hagel questioned the legitimacy of the nation of Israel and suggested the United States should reverse its policies towards one of its closest allies to establish credibility with nations who have a long history of tyranny, many of whom have openly called for the destruction of Israel.
Hagel may claim he was speaking in the context of the support the US shows to Israel, but these are the words spoken by all of Israel’s enemies who would like to deny the fact that the nation of Israel first existed 3500 years ago. The Jewish people have steadfastly maintained a continuous population in Israel for 3500 years and they have been the majority in Jerusalem since the first official census in mid 19th century. To claim that Israel exists because the United States somehow created the Jewish State not only denies the realities of history, but it plays into the hands of every Jew hater on the planet.
Much has been made about Hagel’s lack of enthusiasm for taking a hard line on Iran, his apparent negative attitude towards Israel, and his refusal to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. While Hagel is certainly entitled to his opinions about Iran and Israel and the Senate is equally entitled to reject him as Secretary of Defense for said opinions, observers are baffled by his obstinate refusal to to certify the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. The evidence is absolutely conclusive that the IRG trains terrorists while supplying them with world class weapons and financial support. The IRG also sent troops to fight alongside Assad’s military as they massacre Syrian civilians.
Compounding Hagel’s problems are the concerns raised by Republican Senators about his business dealings. The Senator’s are demanding details on all payments of more than $5,000 that Hagel received over the past five years as well as a list of the groups he addressed and their donors. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., made it clear he will not vote on the nomination until Hagel answers all the question the committee has put to him.
“I’m not going to make any decision on Sen. Hagel until we get all the information we’ve requested.”
Hagel issued a typical politician’s denial and claimed he does not have legal access to the information requested by the Senate:
“My role with respect to the entities you identify is as a current and former board or advisory board member. I was not involved in the day-to-day management of any of these firms, and have not been involved with some for the firms for years now. Thus, as a matter of fact, I do not believe I have any of the information requested. More importantly, the information you seek is legally controlled by the individual entities and not mine to disclose.”
Freshman Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been a firebrand in the opposition to Chuck Hagel and he is believed to be the leading force behind the delay in the confirmation vote. Cruz and his colleagues made their position quite clear in their letter to Senator Hagel:
“Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request [for more information] suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate’s responsibility to advice and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light.
“This Committee, and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for Secretary of Defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly from foreign sources. Until the Committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.”
The Senate raised some serious questions about Mr. Hagel, and he displayed a stunning lack of knowledge and competence during the hearings. Although his nomination is probably assured because the Democrats hold a 55 to 45 majority in the Senate, only two Republicans said they will vote in favor of his nomination.
Critics of the President and the Hagel nomination are asking one important question. Is Chuck Hagel the best choice to be the next Secretary of Defense, or are the American people watching a battle of wills between the opposition and a President determined to have his way, no matter the cost to the nation?