Published in Foreign Policy on January 30, 2013.
Article summary below; read the full text here.
Since word first leaked in mid-December that Chuck Hagel was President Obama’s likely choice for secretary of defense, opponents of his nomination have sought to paint him as anti-Israel, soft on Iran, and a supporter of sweeping defense budget reductions. The intensity of most of those charges has waned, with the Israel issue being dealt a seemingly fatal blow by Sen. Chuck Schumer’s support for the nominee. But there is another potential hurdle — one that sounds more appropriate to 1983 than 2013: is Hagel hawkish enough on nuclear weapons?
Hagel’s Republican critics have claimed that he is “an outspoken supporter of nuclear disarmament” and “seeks a world free of nuclear weapons.” Conservative media outlets have parroted these charges in their continuing attacks on Hagel and Senate Republicans are poised to make an issue out of them at his January 31 confirmation hearing. They are unlikely to succeed — Hagel’s nuclear views are mainstream. The real question is whether he’ll have the opportunity to do anything about them.