There is no question that Chuck Hagel will face intense opposition in his confirmation hearings for secretary of defense. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, is going to be met with harsh criticism. His anti-war and critical assessment of Israel have put him at odds with rank and file members of the Republican Party, namely Christian conservatives. But, many members of both the Republican and Democratic Party are pro-Israel, and believe that Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East; history has proven this to be true. But opposition to Hagel does not stop there.
Interestingly, Christian conservatives are not the only ones who oppose Hagel's confirmation. Two diverse groups have been working hard, and anonymously, to see that Hagel does not get confirmed. And the two groups could not be stranger bedfellows.
First, a conservative group called Americans for a Strong Defense is strongly opposed to Hagel becoming secretary of defense, stating that he will make the country "weaker" defensively. Hagel favors direct talks with Iran, and opposes sanctions on the country, even though Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons. This is troubling for many, namely for those who support Israel's security. Hagel has also called for direct talks with terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Thus, Hagel's anti-war and softer stance against terrorism puts him at odds with many who believe negotiating with terrorist organizations will weaken our country and our place in Middle East politics.
Another group has been actively working against Hagel's confirmation. Use Your Mandate, which is a group that describes itself as a liberal gay rights group has been working overtime to make sure that Hagel is discredited. This group has described Hagel as "anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-Israel, anti-gay, and pro assault weapons." Thus, Hagel faces foes from all sides. Hagel has made comments about James Hormel, Bill Clinton's ambassador to Luxembourg in 1998, which angered the gay community. Since his nomination for secretary of defense, Hagel has softened his stance. Undoubtedly, Hagel's opponents are diverse and stretch across both sides of the aisle, politically and culturally.
Is Chuck Hagel the right man for the job? With tensions flaring with Iran and Syria, not to mention other countries in the Middle East, his potential nomination is concerning. His softer tactics in dealing with our foes could pose potential problems in the future. Furthermore, his comment that he "Is not an Israeli senator," does not sit well with staunch conservatives, who want relationships with Israel to be as close as possible.
All in all, Chuck Hagel is a troubling choice for secretary of defense, when considering how perilous the Middle East is at this time in history. What is most interesting about Hagel's confirmation is the diverse groups who oppose him; rarely do Christian conservatives and gay rights activists agree on political matters. Hagel's confirmation hearing will be contentious, but more than likely he will get the nomination.