J Street believes former US Senator Chuck Hagel would be a fine choice as Secretary of Defense and is appalled by efforts surfacing in recent days to question his commitment to the state of Israel and to Middle East peace.
Sen. Hagel has been one of the most thoughtful voices in Washington for two decades on questions relating to American policy in the Middle East. He has also been a staunch friend of the State of Israel and a trusted ally in the Senate, speaking out on behalf of America’s commitment to Israel’s security. He recognized, before many would talk about it publicly, that the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in two states is in the national security interest of the United States.
The outrageous attacks on Sen. Hagel, many from unnamed sources, are being leveled at a decorated Vietnam War hero who is widely admired as a rational and independent voice on foreign and defense policy.
Sen. Hagel was among the first in his party to realize that the US occupation of Iraq had turned into a quagmire that was taking thousands of American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives without a clear strategic rationale. He took a brave stand against the majority in his own party and led a crucial debate that helped pave the way for President Obama to withdraw American troops from Iraq.
Sen. Hagel also advocated for an attempt to engage Iran in dialogue – advice that President Obama heeded when he came to office in 2009. The fact that the administration made an honest effort to reach out to Iran later made it much easier to build an international coalition behind sanctions against the Tehran regime.
Sen. Hagel believes in bipartisanship and compromise. He values diplomacy over the deployment of US military force. He backs international cooperation rather than unilateralism.
And he believes in peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In 2006, he wrote in an op-ed: “Until we are able to lead a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, mindless destruction and slaughter will continue in Lebanon, Israel and across the Middle East.”
J Street urges all Americans to take an honest look at Sen. Hagel’s honorable record rather than listening to unfounded and unsubstantiated attacks.