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Obama nominates Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense

Barack Obama with Chuck Hagel, as they tour the Citadel in 2008.
Barack Obama with Chuck Hagel, as they tour the Citadel in 2008.

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Today, President Barack Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel to serve in his cabinet as Secretary of Defense. Hagel, a Republican and former Senator from Nebraska, would be the first enlisted soldier and veteran from Vietnam if he secures the position.

While a Republican chosen by Obama seems on paper to be a sure confirmation for both sides of the aisle, the process could prove to be contentious. Republicans are suspect of Hagel’s support of Israel and his seemingly weak stance on Iran. Meanwhile, Democrats and Log Cabin Republicans take issue with Hagel’s past support of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and a remark he made fourteen years ago when he questioned a man’s ability to serve as an ambassador because he was “openly, aggressively gay.”

But Obama seems dead set on seeing his choice secure the position, especially after Republican attacks on Susan Rice over Benghazi derailed her ascension to Secretary of State. What questions and issues are anticipated to play a key role in Hagel’s confirmation hearings? How would he serve as a Secretary of Defense? He’s always worn his commitment to stopping and preventing war on his sleeve, so how would he reconcile that with a job that includes overseeing American military relations with Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and elsewhere around the world? Why is Barack Obama convinced that Chuck Hagel is the right candidate for this job?  


Michael Cohen, Senior Fellow, Century Foundation; Columnist at the Guardian

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and former Pentagon official