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January 8, 2013 12:45 pm

Brennan and Hagel – Bolstering or Weakening US National Security?

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel speaks at a forum for the Law of the Sea Convention in Washington, D.C. Photo: Wikipedia.

The US Senate vote on the nomination of John Brennan and Chuck Hagel to the positions of CIA Director and Defense Secretary, respectively, will shape US power projection and posture of deterrence, global sanity, war on Islamic terrorism and the US determination to avert the wrath of a nuclear Iran.

John Brennan presented his position on Iran in the July, 2008 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: ”A critical step toward improved US-Iranian relations would be for US officials to cease public Iran-bashing, a tactic that may have served short-term domestic political interests, but that has heretofore been wholly counterproductive to U.S. strategic interests.”

John Brennan believed that Iran halted its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, as reported by the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate report. He criticized President Bush for refusing to ease the pressure on Iran. Brennan opined that “preventing Iran from making a nuclear weapon could only be achieved through persuasion.”

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On August 6, 2009, John Brennan presented his worldview on countering-terrorism in a speech on “A New Approach to Safeguarding Americans” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “The President does not describe this [war on Islamic terrorism] as a ‘war on terrorism.’ That is because ‘terrorism’ is but a tactic…. The President does not describe this as a ‘global war….’ It plays into the misleading and dangerous notion that the U.S. is somehow in conflict with the rest of the world…. Nor does President Obama see this challenge as a fight against ‘Jihadists.’ Describing terrorists in this way—using a legitimate term, “Jihad,” meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal—risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek….”

Brennan’s ideological ambiguity/confusion towards Islamic terrorism – and his misrepresentation of Jihad and ignoring the dominance of hate education in the Muslim Middle East – could be transformed into operational ambiguity/confusion in the battle against Islamic terrorism.

At the beginning of President Clinton’s 2nd term, Senator Shelby placed a “hold” on the nomination of Anthony Lake, then the National Security Advisor, to head the CIA.  Senator Shelby succeeded to block the nomination, contending that Lake was an ideologue, while a CIA Director should excel in management and operations.

According to the December 19, Washington Post editorial, John Brennan and Chuck Hagel approach Iran in a similar manner: “Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him…. Mr. Hagel was similarly isolated in his views about Iran during his time in the Senate. He repeatedly voted against sanctions, opposing even those aimed at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which at the time was orchestrating devastating bomb attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. Mr. Hagel argued that direct negotiations, rather than sanctions, were the best means to alter Iran’s behavior.”

Chuck Hagel serves as a Co-Chairman of the Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board and a Senior Director of the US/Middle East Project, promoting his worldview at-large and on the Middle East in particular.

Hagel considers the Palestinian issue to be the core cause of Middle East turbulence, a root cause of anti-US Islamic terrorism and the crown jewel of Arab policy makers, irrespective of the seismic, stormy Arab Winter, which has erupted independent of the Palestinian issue, refuting such oversimplified and misleading assumptions.

Senator Hagel was – along with Senator Kerry – one of the few supporters of Hafiz and Bashar Assad on Capitol Hill.  In October, 2009, Hagel stated: “I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies…. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezballah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S.  Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table…. The next bi-lateral peace treaty for Israel is with Syria.”

As the Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Hagel has subscribed to the centrality of the UN – which is not the home court of US interests – in the conduct of international relations. He does not believe in US exceptionalism in the international arena and espouses the superiority of multilateralism over unilateral independent US national security actions.

Both Brennan and Hagel are out of the American mainstream on crucial national security issues. What does that portend for global stability and the US national security?

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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  • Ethan Coane

    As is often the case on a variety of issues and subjects, critics raising alarms over the Cabinet candidacies of Hagel and Brennan have not yet, to my knowledge, publicly offered their preferred alternatives for these critically important posts. I’m waiting for Sens. Lindsay Graham and John McCain, and others to announce their preferences for Secty. of Defense and CIA Director. Until they do I feel like I’m getting only half the story from them and other critics.
    As far as quoting statements made by these candidates 4-8 years ago, while not irrelevant, they don’t count as much as what they say today. Let the Senate hold it’s hearings where I’m sure the aromas of grilling will waft throughout the Capital and across the country. I’m reserving my verdict ’til then.

  • JHoward

    *** “A critical step (according to Brennen) toward improved US-Iranian relations would be for US officials to cease public Iran-bashing, a tactic that may have served short-term domestic political interests, but that has heretofore been wholly counterproductive to U.S. strategic interests.” ***

    In no small way due to U.S. non-stop running defense for Israel’s repeated violations of UN Resolutions and International Law, turning a blind eye to Israel’s on-going ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and Gaza, and of course, dare we mention it, the crucial enabling U.S. role in Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

    *** Both Brennan and Hagel are out of the American mainstream on crucial national security issues. What does that portend for global stability and the US national security? ***

    Understandably, matters of supreme importance for Israel, especially Netanyahu and his ilk, who unfortunately has pretty well scorched the earth over here with his adolescent shenanigans in this presidential election year, so he’s going to find closed doors when he comes calling in Washington for clarification and offering gratuitous counsel. He’ll find himself once again cooling his heels while the adults deal with the looming problems of the Middle East.

  • Both of them should be made to repeat 500 times the words of Winston Churchill in THE GATHERING STORM(1948):..”MEIN KAMPF was the new KORAN”.

  • rofedoc

    Two of the worst selections

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