VSA Statement on Hagel Nomination Hearing

Veterans Group: Chuck Hagel’s Views are Dangerous

By Veterans for a Strong America  |  Press Release
PUBLISHED: January 31, 2013

Vets Group Opposes Chuck Hagel’s Nomination for Secretary of Defense

Washington, DC – The largest conservative veterans organization in the country today, Veterans for a Strong America, announced its opposition to Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense.In a statement, Joel Arends, Chairman and Iraq War Veteran said:

“Veterans for a Strong America, supported by over 375,000 supporters, is announcing it’s opposition to President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense.  Senator Hagel is a decorated war hero and we respect him for his service.  What we can’t respect or tolerate are the Senator’s positions on the most important policy issues affecting our national security and defense.  Senator Hagel’s sympathy for the Iranian regime simply disqualifies him for the job.  While I served in Iraq, the Iranians were were providing funding, training and resources for the implementation of EFP’s (explosively formed penetrators) that were killing American and coalition soldiers.  The Iranians were cheer-leading for the deaths of Americans and anyone that refuses to denounce that regime – is unqualified for the position of Secretary of Defense.

Chuck Hagel’s view are dangerous and out of the mainstream.  First, his position, (and frankly sympathy) for Iran is inconsistent with the safety and security of the United States.  Hagel opposed 76 Senators in voting against designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. The “sense of Congress on Iran” read: “the United States should designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization…and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”  The IRGC is responsible for assisting America’s adversaries with targeting Americans in the Green Zone with indirect fire assistance as well as with the emplacement of explosively formed penetrators that killed American soldiers and Marines in Iraq.

Second, Chuck Hagel’s views that direct talks with our adversaries work is mistaken.  After Hezbollah attacks sparked a war with Israel, Hagel called on the Bush administration to open direct talks with Hezbollah’s sponsors, Iran and Syria. in 2006 Hagel said that, “Ultimately the US will need to engage Iran and Syria with an agenda open to all areas of agreement and disagreement. For this dialogue to have any meaning or lasting relevance, it should encompass the full agenda of issues.”  Direct talks with Iran and Syria will undermine our relationship with Israel and send a message to the world that terrorism will earn you a place at the diplomatic table.Third, Chuck Hagel has sought to distance the United States from Israel, blame Israel for Palestinian terrorism, pressure Israel to surrender territory and retreat to indefensible borders, and has consistently attempted to increase pressure on Israel and reduce it on Israel’s foes.  Chuck Hagel’s casual indifference to the special relationship between Israel and America will undermine Israel’s security posture and America’s ability to project force into the middle east.

Lastly, Chuck Hagel’s shortsighted view on funding our troops will hollow out the American force.  In 2011, Hagel said that the, “Defense Department, I think, in may ways, has been bloated. So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down. I don’t think that our military has really looked at themselves strategically, critically, in a long, long time.”  This view that the Pentagon is bloated runs counter to the candid assessment of current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta who has remarked that, “And let me tell you something if sequester goes into effect, you can throw all of this out the window. Sequester doubles the numbers of cuts, does it through that crazy formula, and guarantees that we are going to hollow the force and devastate our national security.”  Chuck Hagel’s views on funding for our troops flies in the face of so many credible and respected voices that one has to wonder what his motives and agenda are for assuming the position of Secretary of Defense.

We urge the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the full Senate if necessary, to vote down the nomination of Chuck Hagel.”

About Veterans for a Strong AmericaVeterans for a Strong America is a non-profit and non-partisan veterans organization dedicated to communicating the strategic importance of a strong national defense and ensuring that America remains a strong nation by advancing liberty, safeguarding freedom and opposing tyranny.  www.veteransforastrongamerica.org.

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For more information about Veterans for a Strong America or to interview Joel Arends or another veteran – email media@veteransforastrongamerica.org.

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