Thursday Feb 28, 201305:01 AM GMT
US ‘can’t dictate to the world,’ says new Pentagon chief
Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:59AM
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Chuck Hagel

In his first speech as Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel told an audience of U.S. troops and defense officials at the Pentagon that the U.S. should engage with the world instead of try to dictate to it.


“We can’t dictate to the world, but we must engage with the world,” he said. “That engagement in the world should be done wisely. And the resources that we employ on behalf of our country and our allies should always be applied wisely.”


Hagel was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday in a 58-41 vote, which according to The Washington Post was “the narrowest approval ever for a defense secretary nominee.”


Much of Hagel’s speech seemed to indirectly rebut the Bush administration’s strong-arm, with-us-or-against-us diplomatic approach, making clear also that he would not support wars he viewed as unnecessary.


“I’ll never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do,” he said, and he emphasized “renew[ing] old alliances” and “reach[ing] out” to “build new alliances.”


Hagel also addressed impending military budget cuts, notably leaving out the doomsday scenarios warned about by his predecessor, Leon Panetta.


Sequestration “is a reality,” he said. “We need to figure this out.” Antiwar


Chuck Hagel’s nomination faced the fiercest opposition for a Defense secretary in more than two decades, when former Sen. John Tower’s (R-Texas) confirmation was defeated by Senate Democrats. The Hill


Hagel broke from his party during the administration of George W. Bush to become a fierce critic of the Iraq war. Reuters


Some critics have charged that Hagel is a weak supporter of Israel, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicting that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of defense” toward Israel. LA Times


Hagel drew particular fire for a quote from his 2008 book, wherein he said, "I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator." He added, "I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I’ll do that." The Huffington Post


Hagel has rankled many with comments he made in a 2006 interview with former State Department Mideast peace negotiator Aaron David Miller in which he said that the “Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people" in Congress, in a reference to AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups. LA Times


However, in his first interview after being nominated as the next U.S. secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel told his hometown paper, the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska that he will show an “unequivocal, total support for Israel.” He said critics have "completely distorted" his record.


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