December 20, 2012
Ambassadors’ Open Letter:
Senator Hagel Impeccable Choice for Defense Secretary
We support, most strongly and without qualification, President Obama’s reported intention to nominate Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. Each of us has known the senator over the past twenty years and has found him invariably one of the best informed leaders in the U.S. Congress on the issues of U.S. national security. Senator Hagel’s credentials for the job are impeccable. As a decorated Vietnam veteran, an extremely successful entrepreneur in the private sector and as a two-term senator, he brings unusually high qualifications and experiences to the Department of Defense at this time of budget constraint and challenges to reshape America’s military power while keeping it strong for the coming decades.
Senator Hagel’s political courage has impressed us all. He has stood and argued publicly for what he believes is best for the United States. When he was attacked for opposing the war in Iraq as “unpatriotic,” he replied, “To question your government is not unpatriotic – to not question your government is unpatriotic.”
Time and again he chose to take the path of standing up for our nation over political expediency. He has always supported the pillars of American foreign policy – such as: a strong NATO and Atlantic partnership; a commitment to the security of Israel, as a friend and ally; a determination to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; and the defense of human rights as a core principle of America’s role in the world.
Each of us has had the opportunity to work with Senator Hagel at one time or another on the issues of the Middle East. He has invariably demonstrated strong support for Israel and for a two
state solution and has been opposed to those who would undermine or threaten Israel’s security.
We can think of few more qualified, more non-partisan, more courageous or better equipped to head the Department of Defense at this critical moment in strengthening America’s role in the world. If he is nominated, we urge the speedy confirmation of Senator Hagel’s appointment.
Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to NATO and Greece
Ryan Crocker, former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan
Edward Djerejian, former Ambassador to Israel and Syria
William Harrop, former Ambassador to Israel
Daniel Kurtzer, former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt
Sam Lewis, former Ambassador to Israel
William H. Luers, former Ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia
Thomas R. Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador to Israel and Russia
Frank G. Wisner, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Ambassador to Egypt and India
Kevin Baron reports on the people and policies driving the Pentagon and the national security establishment in The E-Ring.