• Sen. Hagel has been defeatist about Iraq and Afghanistan. And he seems much given to what the late Jeane Kirkpatrick called the "blame-America-first" syndrome with comments like: "Our policies are a source of significant friction not only in the region, but in the wider international community. Our purpose and power are questioned." A Hagel nomination would be a perfect opportunity to repudiate such sentiments and disassociate Republicans from them.
• Of particular concern is Senator Hagel's enthusiasm for U.S. disarmament in the nuclear arena. His advocacy of a "world without nuclear weapons" affords a vehicle for challenging the President's like-minded efforts to bring about the only thing that is remotely achievable - if unimaginably irresponsible: a world without U.S. nuclear weapons. As Mr. Obama is determined not to upgrade our arsenal or to test realistically its aging weapons or tomaintain the strategic "Triad" at present levels, despite growing nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran to China and Russia, every effort must bemade to challenge and counteract such recklessness. Again, a Hagel nomination is a good and very visible place to start.
• Speaking of Iran, Mr. Hagel has long been an enthusiastic proponent of direct negotiations with the mullahs, professing, "Engagement is not surrender. It's not appeasement. [Rather it is] an opportunity to better understand [others]." He has long opposed military action and meaningful economic sanctions. He appears, in short, confident that we can live with a nuclear Iran. Do Senate Republicans agree? If not, are they willing to challenge a president who, despite his rhetoric to the contrary, seems to share that confidence - and oppose a Pentagon nominee who clearly would work to foreclose whatever options remain for precluding such a nightmare?
• Last for the present purpose, but hardly least, there is the problem of Senator Hagel's longstanding hostility towards Israel, A FACT RECOGNIZED EVEN BY IRAN'S STATE MEDIA. He favors engaging its enemies, including terrorist groups like Hamas. While in the Senate, Mr. Hagel declined to condemn Hezbollah. His anti-Israel and pro-Islamist views have earned him accolades from the Muslim Brotherhood front known as the Council on American Islamic Relations.
To be sure, Sen. Hagel's enmity towards the Jewish State tracks with that of President Obama. The question is: Do Republican Senators, and for that matter Democratic ones, who disagree wish to intensify the undermining of Israel in this administration by elevating someone with these credentials to the job of Secretary of Defense?
It is deeply regrettable that the last campaign - which was a perfect opportunity for a teachable moment with the American electorate about the dangers posed the Obama presidency to U.S. security interests - was not used for that purpose. The next best thing may be a nomination fight over Mr. Obama's choice as Secretary of Defense of a man who so aggressively embraces the worst of his policy proclivities.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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