Fifty Former Ambassadors And Top U.S. Officials Call On Senate To Confirm Hagel

Chuck Hagel

Fifty former U.S. ambassadors and other high-level American officials sent a letter this week to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) in support of Chuck Hagel’s bid to become the next Secretary of Defense.

“We strongly support, without qualification,” Hagel’s nomination, the former officials said. “Most of us have known the Senator for a decade or more and have consistently have found him to be one of the best informed leaders in the U.S. Congress on national security issues.”

Signatories of the letter include former U.S. ambassadors Thomas Pickering (Israel), Christopher Hill (Iraq, Macedonia, Poland, Korea), and Ryan Crocker (Iraq, Afghanistan), who recently wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal praising Hagel and endorsing his Defense Secretary nomination.

The former officials said Hagel stands up and argues “for what he believes is best for the United States” and praised his “political courage”:

Time and again, he has chosen to take the path of standing up for our nation, rather than the path of political expediency. He has always supported the pillars of American foreign policy: a strong military; a robust Atlantic partnership; a commitment to the security of Israel, as a friend and ally; a determination to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; and the defense of human rights as a core principle of America’s role in the world. […]

Most of us have had the opportunity to work with Senator Hagel on Middle East policy and other aspects of foreign relations. He has those rarest of qualities: good judgment and common sense. He listens, learns, and takes wise positions that advance the interests and security of the United States. He has repeatedly demonstrated his strong support for Israel and for a two state solution, and has opposed those who would undermine or threaten Israel’s security.

Before Hagel was formally nominated, some of the letter’s signatories also signed on to a similar open letter praising Hagel in a seeming effort to combat right-wing smears on Hagel and his record. Crocker has been particularly vocal, writing in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that Hagel is “a statesman,” that he “personifies” bipartisanship and that “he has an unbending focus on U.S. national security.” The ambassadors join a bipartisan group of former national security advisers and retired military brass in support of Hagel.

Levin announced that hearings on Hagel’s nomination are set for Jan. 31. “We urge speedy confirmation of this outstanding American patriot to be the next Secretary of Defense,” the former U.S. officials said in their letter this week.