Does it matter that a nominee for secretary of defense doesn't particularly care for American power?
Speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2007, Sen. Chuck Hagel revealed the kind of prejudices regarding American military strength most frequently found in the pages of the Nation magazine or among protesters at Occupy rallies. Distancing himself from Republicans he regarded as too bellicose, Hagel said, "Rather than acting like a nation riddled with the insecurities of a schoolyard bully, we ought to carry ourselves with the confidence that should come from the dignity of our heritage, the experience of our history, and from the strength of our humanity, not from the power of our military."
This is a familiar leftist critique of America, a psuedo-psychological analysis of our foreign policy as a form of pathology. For a certain set of people, the problems in the world are never (fill in the blank): Soviet aggression and expansionism, communist repression and adventurism or Islamic radicalism and terror. No, the problem is always America's neurotic need to throw its weight around, alienating benign foreign powers and creating discord and trouble.
Whereas fair-minded people the world over consider the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a terror-sponsoring gangster regime, Sen. Hagel described the Iranian regime at his confirmation hearing as an "elected and legitimate" government. A friendly Democratic senator later offered him an avenue for retreat, which he grabbed, saying, "What I meant to say -- should have said -- it's recognizable." What regime isn't "recognizable"?
What solicitous Democrats cannot obscure is that Sen. Hagel has a long record of softness toward Iran. He voted against designating Al Quds a terrorist entity, advised direct negotiations with the mullahs, opposed sanctions, and suggested that a military response to Iran's nuclear program is not a "viable, feasible, responsible option." In a 2007 speech, he praised Iran's cooperation with the U.S. in Afghanistan and noted that our two nations had found "common interests." From these, Hagel continued, "emerged common actions working toward a common purpose."