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On Monday, Vietnam War veteran and Nebraska Republican, Chuck Hagel, 66, will be nominated as secretary of defense by President Obama.
According to the Washington Post, Hagel would be one of few well-known Republicans in Obama’s Cabinet. This is one way Obama hopes to decrease the strain of partisanship in his second term.
Hagel’s nomination will come after heavy criticism of Obama’s first choice, Susan Rice. Rice removed herself from consideration after Republican calls for her to explain the attack on the American embassy in Libya last year. The attack resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.
Hagel is not without his share of criticism. Because of his seemingly pro-Iran voting record, many worry that Hagel will not be as dedicated to Israeli security as previous defense secretaries. The LA Times reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina stated that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of Defense toward the state of Israel in our nation’s history”.
In office, Hagel opposed bills to impose unilateral sanctions against Iran, but he also voted for $40 billion in military aid to Israel.
According to the Washington Post, Republican opposition is “rooted in the fact that he left his party on Iraq”. Hagel has always been outspoken in terms of foreign policy. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he spoke out against issues in management of the Iraq war.
In the past four years, Hagel has advised Obama on diplomatic relations with Hamas and served as the co-chair of Obama’s intelligence advisory board. As a veteran, Hagel appears suited to deal with problems facing the return of tens of thousands of U.S. troops to the continent.