Last Updated:November 28 @ 07:44 am

Charen: Hagel Proves Obama Won't Stop Iran

By Mona Charen

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."

This is sheer fantasy -- disturbing enough in a U.S. senator but profoundly unsettling in a secretary of defense. Just two months before Hagel sprinkled these rhetorical rosebuds at the mullahs' feet, an Al Quds force had attacked our forces in Karbala, Iraq. We were not at war with Iran (or not consciously). Time magazine reported the ambush: "In the back of two of the vehicles were the four Americans. One of them was alive, though barely. Handcuffed, he had been shot in the back of the head, but he was breathing. The other soldiers were already dead. One had taken bullets in both legs and his right hand, and at some point the kidnappers had torn open his body armor and fired bullets into his chest and torso. Two others were handcuffed together, with one's right hand joined to the other's left. Two shots in the face and neck had killed one. Four bullets in the chest had killed the other."

The Al Quds terrorists had stolen all of the men's ID tags. Before dying, one of them had scrawled his name in the dust of the jeep.

Hagel is not worried about a nuclear Iran. In his 2008 book, he notes blithely, "The genie of nuclear weapons is already out of the bottle no matter what Iran does." In that same year, Hagel proposed that the State Department open an "interests section" in Tehran.

Before the Hagel nomination, we lived with the polite fiction that President Obama was determined to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. The president has reiterated this position consistently since 2007. Mr. Hagel demonstrated confusion about it during his confirmation hearing, mumbling, "We have no position on containment." For clarity, Sen. Carl Levin (another helpful Democrat) corrected Hagel. "We do have a position on containment, and that is, we do not favor containment."

As recently as last September President Obama said, "Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. ... The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

But who can take that boilerplate seriously now? The president has nominated a man for defense secretary who warms the heart of the terror regime in Tehran, a man who despises U.S. power, a man who opposed not just military action but even sanctions against Iran. That the president refuses to withdraw this nomination makes nonsense of his repeated pledges to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. If ever a nomination were filibuster worthy, this is it.


To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at


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  1. powertothepeopleComment by powertothepeople
    February 22, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    Hagel was chosen because he mirrors the same weak view of Iran that our Fake-in-Chief has. He is a disaster in the making and also will provide Obozo with a scape goat when needed…such as when Iran tests their first nuclear weapon.

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  2. lhearoldComment by lhearold
    February 22, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

    I have to disagree with the whole idea of this article. Having been in war, as Hagel has, and seen the results of it, he has the insite to not place American troops and resources into a fight that really is not in our (the USA) best interest. So Iran has nuclear ambitions. So do 99% of the other countries in the world. Problem is the US has hard on for Iran and just can’t stand the thought that they may have the capability (whether they proceed to go in that direction or not)to produce a nuclear weapon. If no one wants Iran to gain nuclear power then force Israel to give up all of their nuclear weapons. Its called balance of power and right now Israel is the big bully on the block and the US is backing them. I sincerely hope Hagel gets the nomination and interjects some equality and sanity into the bunch of nutcase war-mongering politicians that are currently in power in DC!

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    • MattNComment by MattN
      February 24, 2013 @ 12:03 am

      I’m sorry they don’t have negative values for the voting. You have to be a true blue dyed in the wool liberal (working for Obama) to write this trashy comment. Go back to the dems and drink some more koolade before you lose the remaining freedoms and end up crying about how the government doesn’t do enough for you (or let you do what you want to do either).

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    • lhearoldComment by lhearold
      February 24, 2013 @ 7:43 am

      MattN, I am a disabled combat veteran, who, thru no choice of my own spent 5 years in Vietnam. Also a registered republican although there haven’t been many republican candidates that I would vote for, so stuff it pal! Its your kind of mentality that starts and prolongs needless wars. There is a time to fight for this country and a time to look at the situation and stand our ground at some point. This may be a great country but nothing in our constitution gives us the right or responsibility to police the world or attempt to force other nations to toe the line according to our beliefs. Let them do as they want as long as it doesn’t affect us. When it impacts on our way of life then its time to do something. Hagel realizes this and for that he has my backing.

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  3. dalehComment by daleh
    February 24, 2013 @ 12:52 pm


    5 years in Vietnam ?? Why ?? you said no choice of your own?? You are saying whatever outfit you were in ,
    kept you there 5 years ??

    I don’t know of any of our Military outfits that had a 5 year tour in any War except maybe WWII–I am a combat Vet of the Korean War and even the First troops sent to Korea in ’50 didn’t have that kind of obligated tour—-

    Would you please explain??

    I know Hagel is a Vietnam Vet , WIA twice according to reports , an Army Sgt , Squad leader, and even though he was for a couple terms a US Senator , how does that qualify him to be Sec of Defense?? It doesn’t—

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    • lhearoldComment by lhearold
      February 24, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

      Daleh, I went over initially in Jan 68. When my tour was up in Jan 69 I returned to the US with orders for Germany. While on leave my orders were changed, sending me back to Vietnam. This happened again in Jan 70 and Jan 71. In 1972 I was assigned to a unit at Fort Riley, Kansas that was testing target acquisitioning controls in Cobra helicopters and spent another year there on “temporary duty”. My unit of assignment was US Army Vietnam but what I did i still classified. As a vet you know that orders are orders.

      I am a career soldier and retired after 21 years. Sure I could have resisted the draft in 66 and run off to Canada or Sweden but I didn’t and I like many other guys from my neck of the woods really had no future once out of the military so we chose to make the military our career.

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  4. dalehComment by daleh
    February 24, 2013 @ 4:28 pm


    All i can say about your experience with your orders, I think you got screwed— I imagine your MOS had something to do with it though –

    Yep, I know orders are orders and we all had to follow them–

    Thank you for doing just that , instead of heading for Canada, as a Korean War Vet I always hated the actions that the civlians did to Vietnam Vets when they came home–I had a nephew in the Marine Corps and one in the AirForce in Vietnam, and my war was the “Forgotten War” –although both in Korea and Vietnam , the American Military did an outstanding job–

    Take care and I wish you the best, even though I disagree with you about Hagel–by the way I was Marine Corps Infantry, so just a grunt—

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    • lhearoldComment by lhearold
      February 24, 2013 @ 4:56 pm


      Thank you for your service. My father was both a WWII and Korean War vet and the Korean War vets were not even recognized as having fought in a war. It was a “police action” and the public was sick of war and high on the after war prosparity so they could have cared less. With Vietnam the soldiers were hated for the actins of the politicians! We did what we were told and the politicians got off scott free on any blame for anything. A lot of good men died in both of those wars and for what! Vietnam is communist today and the general population of that country could have cared less which way the war went as long as they were left alone. In Korea nothing is solved. The south Korean government is full of corruption and the north is ruled by a madman and we (the US) has a single combat brigade on the DMZ as sacrificial lambs to jump into any major altercation that may arrise. Much like the one brigade we kept in Berlin during the cold war. South Korea is now more than capable of protecting itself from the north so we shouldn’t be there. We prop up corrupt governments around te world while trying to overthrow others that are much less corrupt and evil just to serve the purposes of the egos of politicians. Not to protect this country or better our economy, or provide more jobs or a better standard of living for the average person, jut for the power hungry nutcases in DC. People keep voting for the same *** politician every election because he promises them something that they never follow thru with, meanwhile the country goes to hell in a handbasket!

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