His hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach to foreign affairs is one of the reasons he has received support from America’s top national security brass. Former Ambassador to Israel Alon Pinkas, leading pro-Israel think tanks and more than 50 U.S. ambassadors have praised his vision for defense, his enduring commitment to Israel, his support of a strong NATO partnership and the protection of international human rights. He's been endorsed by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former National Security Advisors James Jones, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Frank Carlucci. The list of endorsements goes on and on but must be limited here as to not bore the reader.
So why has Hagel drawn such vicious protests from a select few? Calling a spade a spade, the small opposition he's faced comes from a partisan desire to stymie a newly re-elected president. These tactics are not advancing America’s best interests and emblematic of the Republican party being driven by a naive neoconservative philosophy far out of touch with the times.
In Washington there is a fundamental debate going on about the nature of American security in a post Cold War world. The dissolving of the Soviet Union has led to an unbalanced international arena in which American force is overwhelming. As the world has increasingly been connected by global economic forces, so too has it become a necessity to exercise force smartly. Hagel understands the growing threat of terrorism in the 21st century and what that means for reigning in the proliferation and production of weapons of mass destruction worldwide. He understands the necessity of a strong American defense and the limits of that defense as a tool to secure America's strategic interests. He understands it is a strength, not a weakness, to challenge weapons systems whose practical purposes grow increasingly limited on today's battlefields.
Hagel is opposed by a narrow band on the ideological fringe precisely because he refuses to operate by a 2003 philosophy of shooting first and asking questions later. He is opposed preciously because the same old assumptions about Russia being our number one geopolitical foe are dangerous two decades after the end of the Cold War amidst rising threats from terrorism and cyberwar.
Senator Hagel has consistently stood up for what he believes is right for America, regardless of party lines. The tarring and feathering of an American war hero has been an example of Washington at its worst. Senator Graham, the leader of this petty band of ideologues, must cease the endless holdups, delays and dithering to prevent a vote. The sooner the Senate moves forward and confirms Sen. Hagel the better America will be for it.
Major General Buskirk, Jr. (USA, Ret.) served in the National Guard from 1978-2004.