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President’s Nomination of Hagel May Encourage Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

The burden is now on Senator Hagel to persuade the Senate, the American people, and the leaders of Iran that he is fully supportive of the President's commitment to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

chuck-hagel

Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense risks increasing the likelihood that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. It poses that risk because Hagel is well known for his opposition both to sanctions against Iran and to employing the military option if necessary.

These views are inconsistent with the very different views expressed by President Obama. The President has emphasized on numerous occasions that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and will use military force if necessary to prevent that “game changer.”

The nomination of Hagel thus sends a mixed message to the mullahs in Tehran, who will likely interpret it as a change from a red light to a yellow or green one when it comes to their desire to develop nuclear weapons. Sending a mixed message at this point can increase the chances that Iran will miscalculate and act in a foolhardy manner thus requiring the actual use of the military option—an eventuality that nobody wants.

The goal of America’s policy toward Iran has always been to frighten the mullahs into believing President Obama’s threat to use military force if sanctions fail. “I don’t bluff,” President Obama has famously and publicly stated. It is imperative that the Iranian leadership believe this. If they do, they may well decide that the sanctions they are currently undergoing are too painful to endure, if the end result is that they will never be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. If they don’t believe President Obama’s threat, then the sanctions alone will not dissuade them from pursuing their nuclear goal. The nomination of Senator Hagel will strengthen the hand of those within the Iranian leadership who think that President Obama is bluffing.

It is also important that the Israeli leadership believes that President Obama really has Israel’s back when it comes to preventing Iran from endangering the Jewish state by obtaining nuclear weapons. Any loss of trust in this regard may result in an Israeli decision to take unilateral military action to protect its citizens against nuclear attacks.

This is the wrong time to send mixed messages by nominating a man who has, at best, a mixed record with regard to sanctions and the military option against Iran and with regard to having Israel’s back.

Senator Hagel will have an opportunity to clarify, and hopefully to change, his previous statements with regard to these issues. He should be asked probing questions about sanctions, about the military option and about Israel’s security. In his answers he must persuade the Iranian leadership that there is no distance between his current views and those of the President who has nominated him. The President must also persuade the Iranian leadership that his nomination of Hagel does not constitute any backing down from his commitment to use military force, if sanctions don’t work.

Independence may be a virtue for a senator, but it is a vice when it presents conflicting messages at a time when it is imperative that the Iranian leadership understand that the Obama Administration, indeed the United States as a whole, speaks with one voice when it says that Iran will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, even if that requires the use of military force if all other options fail.

Normally a president, especially a president reelected to a second term with a substantial majority, should be entitled to pick his own Secretary of Defense. But when the President’s decision risks sending a mixed message that could increase the chances of having to employ the military option against Iran, the Senate has an especially important role to play. The burden is now on Senator Hagel to persuade the Senate, the American people, and the leaders of Iran that he is fully supportive of the President’s commitment not to contain a nuclear armed Iran, but to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring, even if that requires the use of military force to achieve that commendable goal.

Nor is this a liberal-conservative or Democratic-Republican issue. Reportedly, the Hagel nomination has been very controversial within the White House itself, with some of President Obama’s closest advisers being critical of it. Many Democrats, both elected officials and rank and file voters, are deeply concerned about the wisdom of the President’s nomination of Senator Hagel.

Neither is this an issue that concerns only Jewish or pro-Israel voters. There are serious policy issues at stake here. Those of us who voted for President Obama and who want to be certain that Iran is never allowed to develop nuclear weapons, as the President promised, have legitimate concerns about this nomination. We hope that these concerns can be allayed by the President and his nominee, but if they are not, it will be the highest of patriotic duties to oppose Senator Hagel’s nomination.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

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16 Responses to “President’s Nomination of Hagel May Encourage Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions”

  1. Chava Nikki Bachle-Docks says:

    Don't think that Obama is stupid. He told the American people exactly what we wanted to hear about Iran…And we believed him….By appointing Hagel, he made his true intentions clear. Actions speak louder than words.

  2. Senators Gildebrand, Scumer , and Blumenthal, among others have in the past understood the huge cost an Iranian nuclear bomb would be.

    Now they need to understand the huge political cost enabling this catastrophe by.
    voting to confirm Chuck Hagel would be.

  3. I'll look forward to your publishing more of Prof Dershowitz' writings. He raises good points in this one

  4. I'll look forward to your publishing more of Prof Dershowitz' writings. He raises good points in this one

  5. I'll look forward to your publishing more of Prof Dershowitz' writings. He raises good points in this one

  6. I'll look forward to your publishing more of Prof Dershowitz' writings. He raises good points in this one

  7. didn't think one could trust Obama as he surely is not a christian.

  8. I hope Hagel will not allow. He doesn't forget Iran's terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Iran's nuclear facilities will produce tons of high-grade plutonium residue, perfect for a super-dirty radioactive bomb to be detonated within the U.S., Israel, or Europe. I wrote an article about this and offer it free to JP readers. Robert at Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) News.
    http://osintdaily.blogspot.com/2012/06/nuclear-irans-terrorist-proxies-real.html

  9. Hagel has had a midnight conversion on the option of using military force in case negotiations fail to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program.

    But Iran and most people everywhere will interpret his confirmation as the end.
    of all options are on the table and a green light for it's atomic bomb.

    The Senate should give very little weight to what Hagel has to say now and consider the consequence of his confirmation.

    A nuclear Iran has sworn to eliminate Israel and every mosque in Iran has a poster "Death To Israel."

    After Iran drops an atomic bomb over Tel Aviv, the issue of whether Hagel is anti-Israel or pro-Israel becomes mute.

    Iran has a high tolerance for the deaths of huge numbers of people. The war between Iran and Iraq ostensibly over a territorial dispute concerning 0.1% of Iran's land mass had a million casualties.
    Iran has spread it's terror all over the globe and has murdered more than a thousand Americans.
    It's ideology is identical to Al Quaeda, amd certainly has America, the Great Satan in it's cross hairs.

    A Hagel confirmation kills any chance of Iran agreeing to stop it's nuclear weapons program through negotiations. why would they take the tremendous political risk of telling their people that years of sanctions privations was for nothing when they know their is no risk of an American military action?

    I believe President Obama's primary motivation in nominating Hagel is that he thinks he would help to deeply cut the Pentagon budget, and not to poke a finger in the eye of the pro-Israel constituency.

    But it is a very serious miscalculation of unintended consequences.

    The Senate should not confirm Hagel. Senators Blumenthal, Gildebrand, Schumer. Lautenberg, Menendez, Boxer, Cardin and many more that take seriously the Iranian threat and have made promises to their constituents on this issue should vote no just for this reason.

  10. If enbabling Iran to get its nuclear bombs to drop over Tel Aviv is not enough to motivate pro-Israel senators like Chuck Schumer to vote no on Hagel's confirmation,

    try looking at this recent Al-Arabiyah article cheering a Hagel confirmation.

    Here is part of it.

    Hagel represents the heart of the baby boomer generation. He is a war hero of true American colors. His dedication is to the best interests of the United States. Over the years, when he was just a US senator, Hagel could be attacked, vilified and even marginalized by the Israeli lobby. But as the Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration, Israel’s liars have a lot to fear in Hagel.

    He just may be the first American official to ask publicly, why no international agency has been allowed to inspect Israel’s nuclear arsenal, or wonder aloud why Americans, who are experiencing their hardest economic times, continue to subsidize Israel’s lifestyle of conflict.

  11. Matt McLaughlin says:

    He's not Israel's bitch. Be happy.

  12. Matt McLaughlin says:

    its uppity Israel we need to worry about. there, I said it. This whole idea Israel will be allowed to disinfect evey corner of the world because of suspicion, its god damn ludicrous. it'll play by the rules, or else.

  13. Matt McLaughlin says:

    and Israel threatens Iran how many times a week?

  14. Matt McLaughlin says:

    have Durch go join up OVER THERE, god damn Israel Firster.

  15. Matt McLaughlin says:

    A-bombs are gunna be like knives in the Philippines >EVERYBODY'S GUNNA HAVE ONE. GET OVER IT.

  16. Matt McLaughlin says:

    Traditional Jews aren't Zionist. Nice try. Maybe go make up some fake passports, harvest organs from prisoners, get Prince Harry to wear the Balfour around on his t-shirt.

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