Charles Timothy “Chuck” Hagel (born October 4, 1946) is an American politician who is the 24th and current United States Secretary of Defense, serving since 2013. He served as a United States Senator from Nebraska from 1997 to 2009.
A recipient of two Purple Hearts while an infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, Hagel returned home to start careers in business and politics. He co-founded Vanguard Cellular, the primary source of his personal wealth, and served as president of the McCarthy Group, an investment banking firm, and CEO of American Information Systems Inc., a computerized voting machine manufacturer. A member of the Republican Party, Hagel was first elected to the United States Senate in 1996. He was reelected in 2002, and retired in 2008. Hagel is currently a professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, chairman of the Atlantic Council, and co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. He also serves on a number of boards of directors, including that of Chevron Corporation.
On January 7, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense. On February 12, 2013, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved Hagel’s nomination by a vote of 14-11. On February 14, 2013, Senate Republicans denied Democrats the 60 votes needed to end the debate on Hagel’s nomination and proceed to a final vote, citing the need for further review. It was the first time in American history that a nominee for Secretary of Defense was filibustered, although candidates for other cabinet offices have been filibustered before On February 26, 2013 the Senate voted for cloture on Hagel’s nomination and confirmed his nomination by a vote of 58-41. He took office on February 27, 2013 as his predecessor Leon Panetta went into retirement.
Hagel has two younger brothers: Thomas is a professor at the University of Dayton School of Law and Michael, an artist resident in Omaha, Nebraska
Hagel’s third brother, James, died in an automobile accident at the age of 16.In 1979 Hagel married Patricia Lloyd. The couple separated in 1981 and divorced a year later. He married his second wife, LilibetZiller, in April 1985. The couple live with their daughter, Allyn, and son, Ziller, in McLean, Virginia.
Early life, education, military, and early political career
Hagel was born in North Platte, Nebraska, the son of Betty (née Dunn) and Charles Dean Hagel(7/22/1923-December 25, 1962). His father was of German heritage, while his mother was of Polish and Irish descent
He served in the United States Army infantry in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. Holding the rank of Sergeant (E-5), he served as an infantry squad leader in the 9th Infantry Division
After leaving government employment, Hagel co-founded Vanguard Cellular, a mobile phone service carrier that made him a multi-millionaire.
In 1992 Hagel moved back to Nebraska to become president of the McCarthy Group, LLC, an investment banking firm.
U.S. Senate (1997–2009)
In 1996, Hagel ran for the open US Senate seat created by the retirement of Democrat J. James Exon.. Hagel won and became the first Republican in twenty-four years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska. Six years later in 2002, Hagel overwhelmingly won re-election with over 83% of the vote, the largest margin of victory in any statewide race in Nebraska history
Senate voting record
According to Boaz, among his most notable votes, Hagel:
• Voted for the Patriot Act;
• Voted for the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts;
• Voted against No Child Left Behind;
• Voted against Bush’s Medicare prescription drug bill;
• Voted against McCain-Feingold.
On October 11, 2002, Hagel, along with 76 other Senators, voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution. Hagel, a later critic of the war, commented on his vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq
In July 2007, Hagel was one of three Republican Senators who supported Democratic-proposed legislation requiring a troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin within 120 days
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hagel voted in favor of Senate Joint Resolution , authorizing “necessary and appropriate U.S. Military force” in Afghanistan against those who planned or aided the September 11 attacks. During his tenure in the Senate, Hagel continued his support for NATO involvement, and funding in the War in Afghanistan. In 2011, after he left office, Hagel stated that President Obama needs to start “looking for the exit in Afghanistan”, and that “We need to start winding this down.”
- Committee on Foreign Relations
- Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs
- Subcommittee on African Affairs
- Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection (Ranking Member)
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment
- Subcommittee on Financial Institutions (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development
- Select Committee on Intelligence
- Committee on Rules and Administration
Hagel and Senator John McCain were close friends until 2007 when they diverged regarding Iraq policy; Hagel did not endorse McCain for President in the 2008 republican primaries or in the general election.
Post–U.S. Senate career (2009–present)
Secretary of Defense
President Obama nominated Hagel to succeed Leon Panetta and serve as his second term Secretary of Defense on January 7, 2013. Hagel, who would be the first former enlisted combat soldier if approved as Secretary of Defense, was interviewed by the Senate Armed Services Committee during a seven and a half hour hearing on January 31, 2013.
Criticism of the nomination
According to Jon Swaine writing in the Telegraph, Hagel has been accused of having “views [that] verged on anti-Semitic” due to his stating in a 2006 interview with Aaron David Miller that “[t]he Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people [on Capitol Hill]”, and “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.” Hagel also has been criticized by the American Jewish Committee for an incident in 1999 where he was the only senator not to sign an open letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin threatening to cut aid to Russia if it did not take action against rising anti-Semitism in the country. However, Hagel’s refusal to sign the letter was consistent with his policy of never signing letters to foreign heads of state. Hagel, instead, wrote to Bill Clinton on this issue, saying “Anti-Semitism or any form of religious persecution should never be tolerated.”
Hagel was criticized by The Christian Science Monitor and many Republicans, including senators like John McCain, for opposition to some sanctions against Iran, and for calling for direct negotiations with both Iran and with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which both the U.S. and Israel refuse to engage directly
Some of Hagel’s policy positions became the subject of heated debate in the Senate, including support of defense cuts, opposition to preemptive action against Iran, and support of talks with Hamas and Hezbollah. However, U.S. News and World Report cited public opinion polls and foreign policy experts to suggest that Hagel’s views were within the mainstream of American foreign policy thought. Opponents also complained of Hagel’s 2011 call to have the Pentagon “pared down”, saying that “[t]he Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated.”
The Human Rights Campaign criticized Hagel for having a “consistent anti-LGBT” voting record in the Senate and for opposing President Bill Clinton’s nomination of James Hormel as the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, stating that Hormel was “openly, aggressively gay.” The group demanded that Hagel apologize for this 1998 remark The Log Cabin Republicans ran full-page newspaper ads opposing Hagel’s nomination Hagel apologized to Hormel in December 2012. On January 24, 2013, Senator Jeanne Shaheen stated that Hagel will oppose restrictions on LGBT military family benefits.
The New York Times reported that the media campaign opposing Hagel’s appointment is financed by new groups including a conservative group Americans for a Strong Defense and a gay rights group Use Your Mandate. The donors of these groups are mostly anonymous and running advertisements on issues raised by critics.
His Comments that India has sponsored terror attacks against Pakistan: Hagel
United States Secretary of Defence nominee Chuck Hagel had suggested in a previously unreleased speech that India [Images ] has ‘for many years been using Afghanistan to fight a proxy war against Pakistan by sponsoring terror attacks inside it’.
According to a video obtained by Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Bacon, “India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan in Afghanistan,” Hagel had said during an address on Afghanistan at Oklahoma’s Cameron University in 2011.
“India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border,” Hagel said in the speech. “And you can carry that into many dimensions, the point being the tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistanhas been there for many, many years,” he added.
What the Hagel Victory Means,
(The new Foreign Policy team of President Obama – John Kerry as Secretary of State and Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defence – does not change American interests but there may be a paradigm shift in the objectives of the USA. Iran may not be invaded. Greater Israel, Greater Baluchistan, and the Kurdistan State, all of which are indo-Zionist projects, may be quietly dropped thus abandoning the ‘mission’ of break up of the Muslim world into mutually hostile warring blocs and states. But this would not happen unless countries like Pakistan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia put pressure on the USA to give up support to Israel and insurgency in Kurdish and Baloch tribal areas. USA is bankrupt but is eager to put its house in order. The Muslim World can help if the USA abandons the old policy of ‘bribing and bullying’ and make genuine friends as until 1967 Arab Israeli War. ( Usman Khalid, Director RIFA)
by Stephen M Walt
I suspect a lot of people would like to believe Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as secretary of defense shows that Obama has broken the back of the Israel lobby and will now move U.S. Middle East policy in a direction that would be better for us, better for Israel, better for the Palestinians, and maybe even better for the entire region.
Don’t count on it.
It is of course a very good thing that the Senate confirmed Hagel. He had excellent credentials for the job, had done nothing to disqualify himself, and to have been denied the post on the basis of the lobby’s slander would have been truly disheartening. And there’s no question that the antics of the Emergency Committee for Israel (note: for Israel, not the U.S.), the Washington Free Beacon, Elliot Abrams, Ted Cruz, Jennifer Rubin, et al. ultimately did more harm to themselves than to Hagel.
They revealed both their preference for innuendo over facts and their belief that support for Israel matters more than any other aspect of U.S. defense policy. As I’ve noted before, their behavior merely confirmed what some of us have been saying for a very long time, and they did so center-stage with the spotlight on. Very gratifying indeed.
But it would be a huge mistake to conclude that the lobby’s clout has been broken and that Obama will now be free to chart a new course.
For starters, the behavior of several senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee shows that they are still mightily beholden to groups like AIPAC and extremist Christian Zionists, not to mention some unrepentant neoconservatives. Chuck Hagel was about as bulletproof a candidate as one could ask for (decorated war hero, defense and intelligence expert, successful businessman, respected ex-senator, etc.) and that didn’t stop these zealots from unloading the SIOP against him. The fact that they ultimately failed is important, but so is the fact that they could even make an issue of it.
The lobby failed to stop Ronald Reagan from selling AWACs to Saudi Arabia in 1981, but they made him work really, really hard to get the deal through and he never took them on again.
One should also remember that Obama has basically been caving in to the lobby ever since 2009, which tells you something about its clout. It’s true that he doesn’t have to run for re-election again. But most of those Congressmen do, and they aren’t going to back him up if he tries to play hardball with Netanyahu. The annual aid package to Israel will be approved like clockwork, which means Obama won’t have many levers to use if he needs to push both sides toward a peace deal.
And that’s why I previously argued that you aren’t going to see a big Middle East peace push during the second term. Sure, Obama might let John Kerry see what he can accomplish. But Netanyahu will just stiff him, and Obama won’t do anything about it. The Palestinians are still divided and too weak to negotiate a fair deal, and conditions throughout the region are hardly propitious for compromise. If Obama is looking for a legacy, in short, the Middle East is not the place to find it. And I suspect he knows that.
Which is not to say that there isn’t good news here. The pro-peace, pro-two state lobby J Street’s support for Hagel was vindicated, and that’s likely to win them greater access going forward. (I mean, who really wants to be in the company of the smear artists who went after Hagel?) Hagel’s confirmation and the lobby’s defeat diminishes the push for war with Iran — which is a good thing — and might encourage the administration to formulate a negotiating strategy toward Tehran that has some prospect of success (as opposed to the dead-on-arrival offers we’ve been making so far). And it certainly doesn’t hurt for politicians in Washington to be reminded that the lobby doesn’t win every time.
But the bottom line is that no powerful interest group disappears after a single defeat. Even when a lobby doesn’t get its way, it can gain a partial victory by making the winning side pay a price, and by reminding everyone that it can still make trouble. And that was the lobby’s real strategy here. They probably knew that Hagel was likely to be confirmed, for the simple reason that he was a well-qualified candidate whose patriotism was beyond question. Their aim instead was to deter future administration from nominating people who weren’t lobby-certified, and to discourage ambitious young foreign policy professionals from doing or saying anything that might put the lobby’s crosshairs on them.
In short, so long as opportunistic rabble-rousers like Ted Cruz believe that pandering to the lobby is the smart political play, Capitol Hill will remain supine, the executive branch will be constrained, and U.S. Middle East policy will be about as successful as its been for the last couple of decades.
Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.