President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Republican Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to be his next defense secretary has set in motion the must-see political event of the season.
Though a decorated Vietnam vet, Hagel has critics on both the right and the left, and his confirmation hearing should be anything but tame.
Some Republican senators have already declared that they will vote against their former colleague. Others, both Democrats and Republicans, have expressed concern about his positions and past statements.
Here are 10 questions, in no particular order, Hagel should be asked when he visits Capitol Hill. The list is anything but exhaustive.
10.) In a 1998 interview, Sen. Hagel, you seemed to rationalize Palestinian terror against Israel when you said, “Desperate men do desperate things when you take hope away. And that’s where the Palestinians are today.” But study after study has shown that terrorists — in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere — are generally both better educated and wealthier than their neighbors. In other words, they are among the least desperate people in their societies. Do you have evidence that suggests otherwise?
And following your logic, do you believe the suicide terrorists who attacked America on 9/11 were acting out of desperation? Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, was a middle class Egyptian studying architecture in Germany. What made him particularly desperate?
9.) During the height of the Palestinian terror war against Israel in 2002 — which Yasser Arafat’s widow recently confirmed was not spontaneous as some have tried to claim, but premeditated and planned by Arafat himself — you declared: “Israel is our friend and ally, and we must continue our commitment, but not at the expense of the Palestinian people.” (RELATED: Arafat’s widow reveals campaign that killed more than 1,000 Israelis wasn’t spontaneous)
You went on: “What we need isn’t a cease-fire, leading to a sequential peace process, leading to negotiations on a Palestinian state, leading to negotiations on refugees, Jerusalem, etc. That time has passed. An end game must be brought to the front, now.”
Two years before you made those remarks, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered a deal to end the conflict that was so generous that even then-Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan reportedly said Arafat would be committing a “crime” if he walked away from it. But walk away Arafat did.
What do you think Israel could have done at the time you were criticizing them, in the midst of the terror campaign against them, to change the minds of the Palestinian leadership in favor of peace? How exactly was Israel supposed to react to indiscriminate murder against their population by suicide bombers?