National Security Brief: Hagel Gets More Senate Backers

More Democratic senators offered their support on Thursday for Chuck Hagel’s bid to become the next Defense Secretary. Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Joe Manchin (WV), Chris Coons (DE) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) met with Hagel and were reassured of his commitment to Israel’s security. “Senator Hagel clarified his position on Iran sanctions and Israel, and I am confident he is firmly committed to ensuring a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Lautenberg said. “Chuck is a combat veteran and foot soldier who has a unique understanding of the challenges faced by our men and women in uniform, and a practical leader who understands the need for common sense in military spending and national security strategy,” Manchin said in a statement.

In other news:

  • Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said in his confirmation hearing on Thursday to become the next Secretary of State that he would de-emphasize the military role “thrust upon us” by Sept. 11, saying “we cannot afford a diplomacy that is defined by troops or drones or confrontation.”
  • Kerry also said that tackling climate change and the debt and deficit should be a top priority. “Foreign policy is economic policy,” he said. “It is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way.” The Senate is expected to vote on Kerry’s nomination next Tuesday.
  • British lawyer Ben Emmerson, the special investigator for the United Nations Human Rights Council, said on Thursday that a panel he leads will investigate what he called the “exponential rise” in drone strikes used in counterterrorist operations, “with a view to determining whether there is a plausible allegation of unlawful killing.”
  • Reuters reports: The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief has underlined to Israel’s president the need to resolve differences with Iran diplomatically, Yukiya Amano’s office said on Friday, rather than war as Israeli leaders have mooted.
  • (Photo: AP)