Council for a Livable World is pleased to endorse, and urge confirmation of, former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R) for United States Secretary of Defense. Senator Hagel, a decorated Vietnam war hero and longtime public servant, is an excellent choice to shift American defense policy to correspond to 21st century realities.
The next Secretary of Defense will preside over an important restructuring of the Pentagon budget. On this matter, Senator Hagel has evinced a pragmatic and sensible viewpoint. Hagel has come under fire for commenting that the Pentagon budget is bloated, but this is an undeniable reality. The defense budget has grown to unsustainable levels, and the Pentagon needs a leader who recognizes that rational cuts can be made that in fact would strengthen American security.
Senator Hagel will bring fresh new ideas about how to safely and sensibly move to a new budgetary reality.
On other crucial national security matters, Hagel understands the most effective ways to utilize American strength. He appreciates the fact that diplomacy and engagement are the most effective tools for advancing national goals, including preventing a nuclear-armed Iran and helping to move toward peace in the Middle East.
At the same time, the former Senator has distinguished himself from neoconservative Republicans and Democrats alike who appear to believe that the application of military might can solve almost any problem. Hagel is keenly aware of the limits of force, an awareness that he shares with the war-weary American public. He has been rightly skeptical of taking military action against Iran, of maintaining a Cold-War era nuclear arsenal, and, in general, of using force as anything but a last resort.
The United States needs a Secretary of Defense who will prioritize the interests of the American people. These interests include curtailing soaring military spending that no longer keeps us safe, and using diplomacy, rather than war, to manage international threats. As such, the Council strongly endorses Senator Hagel, a nominee who reflects the internationalist and pragmatic viewpoint of the majority of Americans.