Hagel’s biggest problem: Inexperience

Some of Mr. Hagel’s supporters have favorably cited his criticism of the war in Iraq. Whether or not his opposition to the war was justified, it only came several years after he voted to authorize that same war in 2003. Another possible reason for Mr. Hagel’s nomination is that his Republican affiliation enables the Obama administration to assume a veneer of bipartisanship, even though Mr. Hagel has largely moved away from his party in recent years, did not support the last two Republican presidential nominees, and even endorsed a Democrat in the U.S. Senate election in Nebraska last year.

Regardless, Mr. Hagel’s political positions, right or wrong, Republican or Democratic, do not compensate for his insufficient qualifications for one of the most senior management posts in the executive branch. Particularly at this time of growing challenges to national security and extraordinary pressures on the defense budget, the United States needs the most qualified secretary of defense possible.

Experience and accomplishment are no guarantee of success, but they are a standard prerequisite for it. Whatever his positions on foreign policy and gay rights, Mr. Hagel’s limited qualifications render him the wrong fit to run the Pentagon. America can do better than Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.

Alan Goldsmith is a national security professional in Washington, D.C. He served as a professional staff member for the House Foreign Affairs Committee from 2007 to 2013.