Compared to Ron Paul, Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel’s foreign policy is a pretty boring, if sensible enough, centrism.
But now, in a USA Today op-ed, Senator Cruz denounces Hagel’s foreign policy as “out of the mainstream” and states that “I expect to oppose his nomination for several reasons.”
What are these reasons?
For one, Hagel “views Israel not as our friend but as a nuisance.” The only evidence that Cruz offers to support this claim is that Hagel “refused to sign a letter urging the president to express solidarity with Israel and condemn the Palestinian campaign of violence.” The horror! In Cruz’s eyes, Hagel committed the cardinal sin of believing that Palestinians may have legitimate grievances and that an age-old cultural can’t be boiled down in terms of good and evil.
Just as bad, according to Cruz, Hagel opposes classifying a branch of the Iranian military as a terrorist organization and—you better sit down for this one—“has advocated direct, comprehensive negotiations with Iran’s government, along with Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria.”
Cruz then churns out some Bush-era boilerplate: “Iran is rapidly pursuing nuclear weapons capacity. The surest way to avoid military conflict is to have a strong and credible defense; weakness and appeasement only invite military aggression.”
Even if we assume (however improbably) that a poor backwater like Iran could ever pose a serious threat of “military aggression,” I’ve seen no reason to believe that Chuck Hagel would oppose a “strong and credible defense” against it.
“Defense” is defined as “resistance against attack; protection.” It does not mean sanctions, provocations, or threats of war against other countries, all of which better fit the definition of “aggression.” These kinds of acts, which Cruz apparently supports, are not resistance against some external force; they are the very aggressive, external force that he denounces.
Cruz aptly ends his op-ed by writing: “We can and should do better.” To which I can only add: listen up, Young Americans for Liberty! If Cruz opposes Hagel this much, what would he do if a real, Ron Paul-style anti-interventionist came forward? We don’t gain anything from having another war hawk in the Senate, even if he is good on economic policy.