Responding to those who have questioned his views on Israel, Iran and defense spending, former Sen. Chuck Hagel said Thursday at the opening of a Senate hearing on his nomination to be secretary of defense that:
“No one individual vote, quote, or statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record. My overall worldview has never changed: that America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world; that we must lead the international community to confront threats and challenges together; and that we must use all tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interests.”
On specific issues, Hagel said:
— “I am fully committed to the president’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and — as I’ve said in the past — all options must be on the table to achieve that goal.”
— “I will ensure our friend and ally Israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region and will continue to support systems like Iron Dome, which is today saving Israeli lives from terrorist rocket attacks.”
— “If confirmed, I am committed to effectively and efficiently using every single taxpayer dollar; to maintaining the strongest military in the world; and to working with Congress to ensure the Department has the resources it needs – and that the disposition of those resources is accountable.”
Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, was formally introduced and endorsed by former senators Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and John Warner, R-Va.
At the start of the hearing, the committee’s ranking Republican — Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma — said he will oppose Hagel’s nomination because he believes the nominee has in the past supported policies that “diminish U.S. power and influence.”
The hearing is being webcast by C-SPAN and by the committee.
As we said earlier, this could be one of the more contentious nomination hearings for one of President Obama’s cabinet choices. We’ll watch for more news and update as needed. [Copyright 2013 NPR]