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Hagel Nomination: Iranians Giddy

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

As the Senate prepares to hold a January 31 confirmation hearing for their former colleague Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, an alarming paradox has emerged.  Iran – the "Death to America" Islamic regime – is effusive with praise, while a large group of retired U.S. military commanders have "deep concerns" and have taken a highly unusual public position in opposition to Hagel's nomination.  

The Washington Times cites an Iranian source that received the news of Hagel's nomination as "a message of peace from the Obama administration to the Islamic Republic of Iran" and admiringly quoted Hagel's condemnation of sanctions against Iran.  Not surprisingly, the Iranians and are also giddy over Hagel's past anti-Israel statements and criticism of the "Jewish lobby" in the U.S.

Additionally, the regime controlled English press outlet in Tehran says the Iranians believe that a new SecDef Hagel would help craft a "grand bargain" between the U.S. and Iran.  That bargain, they believe, would be accepting of the current Islamic regime and their quest for nuclear capabilities, while turning a blind eye as the regime squashes the pro-freedom opposition.  Read the full article here.

Meanwhile a distinguished group of retired military commanders have taken a highly unusual public position in opposition to the Hagel nomination.  The group includes nine retired Army, Air Force, and Marine Generals and Five Navy Admirals, including Paul Valley, Major General U.S. Army (ret), who is a contributing editor to A Line of and Founder and Chairman of Stand Up America.  

In a January 29 letter sent to Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the Chairman and Ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the group of flag and general officers raised the following serious concerns and concluded that, "For all of these reasons, it is our professional assessment that confirmation of Sen. Hagel to be Secretary of Defense would be contrary to the United States' vital national security interests."  Full letter here.

  • Sen. Hagel’s support for further cuts to the defense budget.  Sen. Hagel stated in late August 2011 that the Pentagon is “bloated” and needs to be “pared down”, contrary to Sec. Panetta’s and Chairman Dempsey’s views that sequestration – the additional hundreds of billions in across-the-board cuts to defense that go well beyond the $787 billion in cuts already sustained by the Department since Sec. Gates’ tenure – would be “disastrous for the defense budget” and “very high risk” to national security;
  • Sen. Hagel’s support for the global elimination of nuclear weapons.  Sen. Hagel is a public supporter of the “Global Zero” Initiative, the goal of which is the “elimination of all nuclear weapons.”  This stance is ill-advised for any Secretary of Defense, as Russia and China continue to modernize their nuclear capabilities while North Korea and Iran move closer to obtaining them.
  • Sen. Hagel’s hostility towards Israel.  Sen. Hagel has demonstrated an abiding hostility towards Israel, a view that would be detrimental to ournational defense and perhaps perilous to our only stable, reliable ally in the Middle East were he to become Secretary.
  •  Sen. Hagel’s outlook towards Iran.  Sen. Hagel repeatedly opposed sanctions against Iran while serving in the Senate, and in 2006 stated that "a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option” – an ill-advised statement that undercuts the effectiveness of both diplomatic and military policies to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities.

Signers to the letter are as follows:

Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, USN (Ret.)

Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, USA (Ret.)

Vice Adm. Robert Monroe, USN (Ret.)

Lt. Gen. E.G. “Buck” Shuler, Jr., USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Thomas F. Cole, USA (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Vincent E. Falter, USA (Ret.)

Rear Adm. H.E. Gerhard, USN (Ret.)

Rear Adm. Robert H. Gormley, USN (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Higginbotham, USMC (Ret.)

Rear Adm. Don G. Primeau, USN (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Mel Thrash, USA (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, USA (Ret.)

Brig. Gen. William A. Bloomer, USMC (Ret.)

Brig. Gen. Ronald K. Kerwood, USA (Ret.)

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