January 14, 2013

Former GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum: “No To Chuck Hagel”

President Obama has nominated former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be our  next secretary of defense. While there are many positions in the administration  that would suit Chuck Hagel, his views on national security are repeatedly wrong  and, if successful, this nomination would send the wrong message to our enemies  and have very dangerous consequences for our country. We must work to  defeat him.

The United States secretary of defense is entrusted with the most critical  responsibility of the federal government: to keep Americans safe from threats  abroad. And I believe there is no greater threat to our security than Iran,  and even more so a nuclear Iran. I oppose Chuck Hagel for the same reason I  voted against Robert Gates: Their views on Iran and radical Islam are weaker  than the president who nominated them. Both had records of wanting to reach  out instead of stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and Sen. Hagel  went so far as to imprudently take essential leverage against Iran, a military  strike, off the table, something even the president has been unwilling to do to  date. But Hagel will be on the national security team to determine such policy,  and the last thing America and our friends in the Middle East need is someone  weaker on radical Islam and more hostile to Israel than the already weak and  hostile president.

Unfortunately, Sen. Hagel’s long history of pandering to Iran, supporting  further cuts to our military and turning his back on our ally, Israel, are  exactly the wrong positions we need in a time of great global instability and  emerging deadly threats. The basic question Americans must ask is this: Is  Chuck Hagel the right person to keep Americans safe? In my view, the answer is  emphatically “no.”

To begin with, it has been well established that Iran is the primary sponsor  of global terrorism and is a growing nuclear threat. The openly  anti-American Iranian regime is the greatest single threat to our safety in the  world today. Yet time and time again, Chuck Hagel has chosen to ignore  this. While a senator in 2007, he voted against an important bill that would  have labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist  organization. This came at a time when the IRGC was providing weapons,  training and financing to those killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. He  also urged the Bush administration to pursue “direct, unconditional and  comprehensive talks with the government of Iran” and repeatedly voted against  sanctions. And Hagel has ruled out using military options against  Iran. Last week, the Iranian regime welcomed Hagel’s nomination, stating  that it could help diplomatic relations. This can only be because he has  repeatedly failed to support policies that oppose the threat and nuclear  ambition of our top national security threat – the Iranian regime and radical  Islam.

As I wrote in  this space last week, the looming cuts to our military are sure to leave our  national defense badly weakened and exposed to very frightening and real threats  like an EMP attack, for example, that would threaten the lives of many million  Americans. Our current secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, has very fervently  opposed these cuts. Chuck Hagel, however, supports defense budget cuts and  believes in a “pared down Pentagon.” This view is aligned with the position  of President Obama, who very clearly wants to continue to cut defense spending  as he builds an even bigger, European-like welfare state. This is not the  time to cut back on the resources we need to keep America safe, and a defense  secretary who will so easily agree to the president’s view is not  acceptable.

Our greatest ally in the unstable and increasingly anti-American Middle East  is Israel. It is a strategic defense relationship and one that must be  protected – especially now, given what’s happening in Egypt, Syria and  Iran. But Chuck Hagel has a long history of turning his back on this  ally.

When Palestinian suicide bombers were blasting Israelis to pieces in 2002,  Hagel wrote in an op-ed article that this was the time for Israel to “take steps  to show its commitment to peace.” At the beginning of the Palestinian  uprising (Second Intifada), in which an estimated 4,000 people  died, Hagel refused to sign a letter supporting Israel. In 2006, he made a  reference to the “Jewish lobby” and the “dumb things they do,” blatant  insensitivity that undermines the fact that Americans of all ethnicities and  varied faiths stand behind Israel as a true democracy that enhances our national  security. And Hagel has supported direct talks with Hamas, a designated  terrorist organization that pledges to destroy the state of Israel. During  conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, Hagel refused to write  the EU asking it to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

One of the few areas left of truly bipartisan cooperation is on national  security issues related to a nuclear Iran, radical Islamic terrorists and the  state of Israel, and it is not because of the “Jewish lobby.” Since 9/11, numerous bills have passed the Senate dealing with the  Middle East with members on the left and right as sponsors. I personally  sponsored major legislation on Iran and Syria with Barbara Boxer as the lead  Democrat sponsor. Talk about an otherwise odd couple. But not on these issues.  There was, and is, a broad consensus. Chuck Hagel is, and has been, far outside  that consensus.

I say to my former colleagues: I don’t lightly oppose a Cabinet nominee, but  you know this is no ordinary time in the Middle East, and this vote will have  more ramifications for our friends and our foes than any vote on any past bill.  This vote will send a signal that President Obama has successfully fractured the  most enduring, sincere, bipartisan coalition in decades. Don’t put loyalty to  party and president in front of your duty to protect our country. Vote no on  Hagel

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/no-to-chuck-hagel/#ZoxHcOii6TpLTcHF.99