Chuck Hagel's Farcical Hearings

The Senate Armed Services Committee seems to think that the best defense is a good offense.

Last week's confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel made clear it's past time to retire that hackneyed phrase "World's Greatest Deliberative Body." Eight hours of questioning by the Senate Armed Services Committee allowed plenty of bloviating, grandstanding and browbeating—but, apparently, not enough time for serious deliberation over key policy questions facing any new Pentagon chief.

On Thursday, Buzzfeed.com tallied up the issues the committee prioritized. In a hearing transcript running to nearly 60,000 words, the word "drone" doesn't show up even once.

Meanwhile, Saturday's Washington Post reports, the drone war is expanding across Africa, turning "kill lists and drone bases into fixtures for a fight expected to last another decade or more. The U.S. military recently disclosed plans to build a drone base in the west African country of Niger to conduct surveillance flights over neighboring Mali," and it hasn't ruled out using armed drones.

"Drones over Timbuktu" sounds like a snarky reductio ad absurdum of terror-war mission creep, but it's fast becoming our policy, and with little or no debate. Indeed, the committee seemed less interested in the wars we're currently fighting than in making sure we don't miss any opportunities to fight new ones. Afghanistan got 20 mentions in the hearing; "Iran" got 144, with most members demanding Hagel reaffirm that bombing Iran is an option we have to keep "on the table."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), pushed for "engagement" in Syria's bloody civil war. Shouldn't we arm the rebels (some of whom have ties to al Qaeda) "and perhaps, establish a no-fly zone?" he demanded, noting that "it's been 22 months" already.

You'd think our defense posture toward China is an important issue, but I count only five references—four by Hagel himself and one by overeager freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who asked whether Hagel was "part of a group that traveled to China" with a prominent critic of Israel. (Hagel says no).

The "special relationship" with Israel—embraced by everyone at the hearing including the nominee—was special enough to win Israel 166 references in the transcript, more than any other country. Is Israel really 33 times as important to the U.S. as an emerging superpower with 19 percent of the world's population?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the committee's ranking Republican, might think so. In a 2002 speech on the Senate floor, he argued that Israel was entitled to the West Bank "because God said so," and that "the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America" on Sept. 11 because we'd pressured the Israelis to show restraint in the face of Palestinian terrorism. On Thursday, Inhofe accused Hagel of "appeasing our adversaries while shunning our friends." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), professed to feel "chills up my spine" because Hagel didn't sign a 2006 letter expressing solidarity with Israel.

Unlike most of his GOP colleagues, Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) favors "a constitutional conservative foreign policy" that avoids "prolonged conflict throughout the Middle East and around the globe." Yet Paul recently declared that we should "announce to the world ... that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States." Sen. Paul has said he wants to restore Congress' power to declare war and keep Israel independent from U.S. interference. But both goals would be undermined by an explicit security guarantee.

Chuck Hagel admires Eisenhower's farewell address warning of a burgeoning "military-industrial complex." Lately he may be finding Washington's farewell address equally relevant. "A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils," our first president cautioned—chief among them, needless entanglement in foreign quarrels.

This article originally appeared at the Washington Examiner

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  • SugarFree||

    "What do you mean? This is my 'turtle face.'"

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Very good. And now for the koan portion of our hearing - show the face you had before you were born.

  • $park¥||

    Imagine a toad's ass at midnight.

  • SugarFree||

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Nicely done.

  • $park¥||

    Eight hours of questioning by the Senate Armed Services Committee allowed plenty of bloviating, grandstanding and browbeating—but, apparently, not enough time for serious deliberation over key policy questions facing any new Pentagon chief.

    Wouldn't these guys first have to know what's going on at the Pentagon before being able to ask questions about it?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Expand that to, say, any part of the Federal Leviathan and I think you have the entire problem in a nutshell.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Let's get the forum comment ball rolling here...

    jooz....Jooz.....JOOZ!!!!!

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Speaking of Israel, how did America become the most prosperous nation in history without receiving foreign aid? So why do we send billions to other countries, including Israel?

  • T o n y||

    We didn't. We wouldn't even be here without the timely aid of France.

  • Tim||

    Oh you didn't.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Oh yes he did.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    I understand how anything that commenter "Tony" writes gives the majority here pause, but how is what they said in this case incorrect?

    Without the aid of the French Crown would the American revolution of 1775 have not ended in at least a temporary British victory?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Aaaand right on time. HM, you called it, and 8 minutes later, bingo.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    how did America become the most prosperous nation in history without receiving foreign aid?

    The Marquis de Lafayette would have found your statement risible.

    So why do we send billions to other countries, including Israel?

    That's a good question. I don't know why we piss away money on foreign aid. An even better question is why some critics of foreign aid always bring Israel as the prime example, implying that there is something especially insidious about the situation. Personally, I find the blackmail monies paid to the glorified drug lords in the governments Afghanistan, Colombia, and Mexico or the two-faced kleptocrats of Pakistan, Iraq, and Hamas-controlled Gaza, or the fighter jets delivered to Morsi's Egypt, or even the 505 million dollars given to Russia to be more questionable than any assistance to the only country in the Middle East whose denizens didn't flood the streets and dance in joy when the Twin Towers fell.

  • Loki||

    ^THIS^

    I'm against the idea of giving out "foreign aid" in general. Bringing up Israel by name merely makes it easier for people for to dismiss the idea of eliminating payments to other countries as coded anti-semitism. Basically it gives people an opening to play the race jew card.

  • RBS||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'll see your bet, and raise you one Kendall Shultz.

  • RyanXXX||

    You sound like the Senate, HM

  • Tim||

    It's a tough time for Israel, shorter term you got Iran, but longer term you got all these rampaging muslim brotherhood types taking down all the neighbors.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "plenty of bloviating, grandstanding and browbeating"

    Isn't that the Mission Statement for the United States Senate?

  • Tim||

    No, raping underage dominican girls is the business of a Senator.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    But the bloviating comes after the raping, right? Or is it browbeating witnesses? Man, the Senate is so confusing!

  • Tim||

    First you have to sober up and call your lawyer and press secretary.

  • $park¥||

  • Rhywun||

    "Shouldn't we arm the rebels..."

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • Tim||

    Might they start bullseyeing womprats?

  • $park¥||

    That's where it all starts. Next thing you know they're dropping torpedoes down the coolant shaft on your spiffy new Death Star.

  • Loki||

    Yet Paul recently declared that we should "announce to the world ... that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States."

    In that case, why not go ahead and just annex Israel and make them the 51st state? Might as fucking well.

  • R C Dean||

    I've heard worse ideas. Mostly from Congress, true . . .

  • Loki||

    All these confirmation hearings are a fucking joke anyway. They're just an excuse for Senators to do some grandstanding before rubber stamping the president's nominees. Fucking retards, if it weren't for the opportunity to get in front of a camera and bloviate, I'm sure the senate would have found some way to pass responsibility for confirming presidential nominees to an executive departnment by now.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Can it be agreed that Senator Hagel did not in fact well acquit himself in the hearings?

    Is being disliked by conservatives, in and of itself, a suitable qualification for being the American Defense Secretary?

    It seems to me that whatever point that the Administration was making by nominating Senator Hagel may be obscured by a emerging consensus that he is an unclubbable bumbler.

    Were there no female defense analysts or generals who broadly shared the Administrations policy aims?

  • Josua||

    The position of Secretary of Defense could hardly matter any less.

    - We have turned over the physical work of defense to women and openly gay men.

    - Multiple general officers spend ALL Of their time emailing a woman in Tampa who runs frauds to rip-off would be donations to terminal cancer victims.

    - The government is unable to defend its embassies and unwilling to take meaningful action against those who attack them.

    - The national debt will destroy the economy within this decade or the next.

    Therefore, quote the out-going Secretary of State, "What difference does it make?"

    None. Absolutely none.

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  • Perry5||

    upto I saw the receipt which was of $4884, I did not believe ...that...my mother in law woz actualie making money part-time on their apple labtop.. there moms best frend has been doing this 4 less than twenty two months and just cleard the loans on there apartment and bourt a great new GMC. we looked here, http://www.FLY38.COM

  • ||

    Chuck Hagel is The Fifth Defense Secretary with Military Past. Lindsey Graham 'Seems Clueless' On Iran. At least Chuck Hagel knows that Iran is in Asia not Antarctica. Another way to say: “I screwed up and am damn sorry to badmouth you’. Screw SURGE! John McCain cleared the way for Chuck Hagel to be next Secretary of Defense. “I do not believe that we should filibuster,” McCain told POLITICO. “To vote against is entirely the judgment of each individual senator, but filibuster I think would be inappropriate.” Vulnerable Filibuster contempt by Sen. Mitch McConnell flagged. Chuck Hagel's Bizarre out of the ordinary Eight hours Hearings of bloviating, grandstanding and browbeating. In fact, not enough time for serious deliberation over key policy questions. For instance in hearing transcript running to nearly 60,000 words, the word "DRONE" doesn't show up even once.

  • شات عراقنا||

    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world
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    If you think Benjamin`s story is impressive..., last munth my aunts step daughter actually earned $5291 sitting there sixteen hours a week from their apartment and their best friend's mother-in-law`s neighbour has done this for 7-months and made over $5291 part-time from a laptop. use the information available at this link, http://www.FLY38.COM

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