January 9, 2013

Hagel Lashes Out at Critics

Chuck Hagel lashed out at critics of his Israel record in an article timed for release just after President Obama nominated him to be defense secretary.

Hagel told his hometown paper, the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska, that his record was one of "unequivocal" support for Israel and that in the weeks leading up to his nomination on Monday it had been subject to "falsehoods and distortions."

Hagel, a Republican who represented Nebraska in the U.S. Senate from 1996 to 2008, said he refused to join initiatives backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that he deemed unhelpful to Israel, and believed multilateral sanctions on Iran were more useful in isolating the regime than unilateral ones.

"I have not supported unilateral sanctions because when it is us alone they don't work and they just isolate the United States," he said. "United Nations sanctions are working. When we just decree something, that doesn't work."

Hagel said he would offer differing views as defense secretary, but ultimately would defer to Obama.

"I have said many times that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism," he said. "I have also questioned some very cavalier attitudes taken about very complicated issues in the Middle East."

Hagel's critics have singled out his proposals to engage with Iran and with terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, his skepticism of Iran sanctions and of the efficacy of a military strike on Iran, and his criticism of Israel in how it deals with the Palestinians.
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