After hours of debate yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, along strict party lines, with a 14-11 vote. Hagel is expected to narrowly be confirmed by a full vote in the Senate as soon as Minority Ranking Member Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) says all holds placed on the nomination are cleared. While reasons such as financial disclosure and – in the case of Senator Graham - information on Benghazi have been given for holding Hagel’s nomination, such holds are essentially due to Hagel’s heterodoxy on foreign policy.
President Obama’s foreign policy team is undergoing a makeover, with the nominations of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State, former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, and the Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan as CIA Director. All three gentlemen are expected to be confirmed; Kerry already has, Hagel will likely be confirmed (following an abysmal hearing) later this week, and Brennan faces his confirmation hearing this Thursday, which will essentially be the GOP’s final chance to hold Obama accountable for broken national security policies.
The GOP squandered two opportunities to ask proper questions of Kerry and Hagel. The Kerry confirmation hearing was a jovial affair for one of the first advocates on intervention in the Libyan civil war in 2011, which, by the way, received no congressional authorization. When Kerry was questioned about congressional authorization, he essentially bragged about his history of support for unilateral Executive action in Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, Bosnia, and yes, Libya.
Written by Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The confirmation hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Pentagon are mercifully over. His wobbly performance earned derision among neoconservatives, but he responded as they intended to an interrogation that was all about politics, not policy.
As I have noted before, Hagel is under fire because he disputed neoconservative nostrums to speak unpleasant truths to the Republican Party. He was an orthodox conservative, including on foreign policy. However, he was an Eisenhower, not a Dubya, Republican: Hagel criticized the debacle in Iraq, urged negotiation to forestall Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and backed reductions in today’s bloated military budget. General turned President Dwight Eisenhower could not have put it better.
Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The rumors that President Obama will nominate Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defenseshould be welcomed by anyone frustrated by years of war and foreign meddling, and out-of-control spending at the Pentagon. Which is to say, nearly everyone. I hope the reports are true.
The biggest boosters of the Iraq war, the Afghan war, the Libyan war, and possible war with Syria and Iran, are apoplectic. And they should be. Hagel, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, understands war, and doesn’t take it lightly.
Although the president will obviously make the decisions, I expect that Hagel will generally advise against sending U.S. troops on quixotic nation-building missions. We might even see a resurrection of another Republican SecDef’s criteria for restraining Washington’s interventionist tendencies. At a minimum, Hagel will reflect Colin Powell’s view that “American GIs [are] not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board.”
Ted Cruz (R-TX) has ruffled some feathers since joining the Senate in January. Shortly, after President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals, Cruz dismantled arguments for the Assault Weapons Ban, calling it a “singularly ineffective piece of legislation” and slamming its proponents for misleading Americans.
He was one of three members to vote against John Kerry’s confirmation to serve as Secretary of State and he lead the charge against Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense, though he did cross a line in his questioning.
Cruz, who won the GOP nomination for Senate with heavy grassroots support against an establishment candidate, is seeing the benefits of his cavalier attitude back in the Lone Star State, according to a new poll:
Texas’s Junior Sen. Ted Cruz has been making some waves since joining the U.S. Senate, and it’s earning him solid poll numbers back home, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey has found.
Republicans had objected to comments and positions taken by Hagel, who has previously served two terms as member of their caucus in Senate. Some of the comments and innuendo thrown back at Hagel were taken out of context or were based on incredibly tenuous sources, such as the “Friends of Hamas” fiasco.
Shortly after the first cloture vote, Republicans started breaking away. It was apparent that Hagel would be confirmed in due time.
Among the 27 Republicans who voted against cloture were Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio.
What does Hagel’s confirmation mean? Not much. Republicans insist that he has been margalized due to the confirmation process, but they were ultimately unable to block him. That stunt may have helped them with neo-conservatives, but it did little else. And Hagel isn’t the non-interventionist that anti-war activists are making him out to be, though he has walked back some of his previous views.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been spending a lot of time recently working to bring transparency to President Barack Obama’s drones program.
A recently released memo from the Department of Justice laid out a tenuous legal justification for drone strikes on American citizens. While the Obama Administration has promised to explain the “mechanisms” by which they choose their targets, there are still many questions to be answered, including the constitutional issues that come with ignoring the right to due process.
Sen. Paul has said that the nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is more important than Chuck Hagel’s nomination, which Republicans successfully — though only temporarily — stalled last week. He has asked some hard, pointed questions of John Brennan about President Obama’s drones program, including whether or not the White House would carry out drone strikes on American citizens on American soil. But no real answers have been given, and the lack of transparency with this program and the role the CIA will play has prompted Sen. Paul to call Brennan’s nomination the “preeminent libertarian concern.”
Sen. Paul responded to criticism that he has faced from neoconservatives about this issue during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
Senate Republicans took a questionable stand again yesterday as they successfully filibustered Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense.
The GOP case against Hagel has some holes. It seems based more on heresay and glaring misrepresentations of Hagel’s record. Republicans in the chamber have tried to make Hagel as unfriendly to Israel. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took a quote made by Hagel when he was serving in the Senate completely out of context to make it appear that he was criticizing Israel and then later questioned his patriotism. Jay Bookman has some other examples of the rhetoric used by Republicans against Hagel during confirmation process in the Senate.
And in other cases, it’s a way to go after the White House, such is the case of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who recently said that he planned to hold up Hagel’s nomination until the Obama Administration answers questions about Benghazi.
On Sunday’s Face the Nation, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he will attempt to block Obama’s nominations of both John Brennan to CIA Director and Chuck Hagel to Defense Secretary over the Obama Administration’s failures in Benghazi. As it is Bob Schieffer’s job to “wring news out of his guests,” Graham, emerging as the new head of the Neocon Right, certainly obliged.
GRAHAM: “I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go for forward the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of defense, until the White House gives us an accounting. Did the president ever pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks? What did the president do? …What did he do that night? That’s not unfair. The families need to know. The American people need to know…”
SCHIEFFER: “But let me — I’m not sure I understand. What do you plan to do if they don’t give you an answer? Are you going to put a hold on these two nominations?”
Conservatives are always thumping their chests about America, and how we must defend America, and how we must be American, and how if we ever dare criticize the government, we’re hating America. It’s a common thread that has been going on for at least the past ten years, if not more, and was pretty effective in dominating liberals from the turn of the century until at least 2006, though it wouldn’t be until Obama’s election in 2008 that the narrative actually fell apart.
However, is this really true? Are conservatives really all about America? I have some doubts, doubts that are being fanned by the recent conservative alliance against Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, himself a conservative Republican. I don’t usually wade into these high-profile topics, leaving them to be picked by others, but there’s one thread here, a counterpoint to the thread of conservatives loving America to their dying breath, that I just have to comment on.
The Cato Institute has been supportive of Chuck Hagel’s nomination, with Chris Preble, their senior foreign policy scholar, noting that “Chuck Hagel Is Not Controversial.” He’s no libertarian dove, but as an enlisted man who was wounded in Vietnam, he is a damn sight better than most people who are nominated for the role. This is not what infuriates the right, however. Instead, it was his remarks concerning Israel, and more importantly, the Great Israeli Lobby, also known as AIPAC: