In an open letter to President Barack Obama, ten bipartisan arms control experts endorsed the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as Secretary of Defense.
The letter declares, “We commend you for your selection of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. We declare ourselves to be fully in support of his nomination.”
The letter was largely the brainchild of Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., former Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament. He is currently Executive Chairman of the Board at the Lightbridge Corporation and a member of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’s National Advisory Board.
“From reduced defense spending to developing an exit strategy in Afghanistan and a global community concerned with terrorism, the Pentagon faces many challenges in the 21st century. Hagel will effectively lead the institution in addressing these concerns,” said Amb. Graham. “As the U.S. and other nuclear arms countries consider further reductions in nuclear stockpiles to ensure greater national and global security, it is imperative that someone with Senator Hagel’s experience and keen insights lead the Department of Defense.”
The letter was sent to President Barack Obama and members of the Senate Arms Services Committee this morning. The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. President:
To view the complete analysis, visit here; the analysis also includes a detailed study of the pre-conference House and Senate versions of the bill.
We commend you for your selection of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. We declare ourselves to be fully in support of his nomination.
These indeed will be perilous times ahead with the threat of international terrorism, chaos in the Middle East supported by Iran, the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon with a consequent calamitous effect on nuclear proliferation and an increased threat to US allies in the Middle East region, nuclear weapons in the hands one of the world’s most irresponsible states-North Korea and the general decline in world order inevitably leading to new threats.
This will be in the context of an inevitable reduction in the defense budget as the US faces fiscal realities. According to the Congressional Budget Office the current budget calls for a decline in defense spending from 4.3 percent of GDP to 3 percent of GDP.
The US military must be modernized in the wake of the Iraq and Afghan wars, even while facing these new and continuing threats, with a significantly smaller force. With the threat of nuclear weapon proliferation perhaps becoming even greater than in the past, the strengthening of the viability on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has become a national imperative.
Senator Hagel has experienced war personally, in Vietnam where he served with great distinction and was severely wounded. Anyone who is acquainted with him knows him to be a man of cool and sound judgment who understands that war must always be a last resort.
He has been a Board member of the Ploughshares Fund, a philanthropic organization in the forefront of supporting sound nuclear policies. And he was a member of the Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission which prepared the Global Zero Report on the modernization of US nuclear strategy, force structure and posture. Former STRATCOM commander General James Cartwright was the Chairman of that Commission. This Report argues for negotiated reductions to a level of 900 nuclear weapons for the U.S. and Russia, along with an active effort to engage other nuclear weapon powers in negotiations. There is also in the Report a sound emphasis on de-alerting, long a goal of many US nuclear strategists, and a proposal to ensure the integrity of the US nuclear force in the face of fiscal realities with a target date of 2022. The US must prepare for the years ahead with its defense policies as well as its other government policies.
Senator Hagel is truly the man for to cope with all these challenges; he is the right man at the right time, in the words of former National Security Advisor, General Brent Scowcroft, “…he would be an outstanding secretary of defense.”
Member, Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board and Co-Founder, Global Zero
Former Chief Negotiator, Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and US Chairman, Global Zero
President, Ploughshares Fund
Amb. Ralph Earle II
Former Chief SALT Negotiator with the Soviet Union and Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Ralph Earle
Amb. Thomas Graham, Jr.
Lightbridge Corporation & Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation National Advisory Board Member
Former Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament
Amb. Robert Grey
Former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament
Former Director, US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency & Undersecretary of State
Executive Director, Council for a Livable World & Center for Arm Control and Non-Proliferation
Jack F. Matlock, Jr.
Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security, 1983-1986
U.S. Ambassador to USSR, 1987-1991
Author of Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended
Amb. Thomas Pickering
Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Russia, the UN, India and Israel
Richard Rhodes Science historian and Pulitzer Prize recipient; preeminent historian of the nuclear age