Hagel is the man for the job
Most of the opposition to former Sen. Chuck Hagel's confirmation as secretary of defense is built around his supposed lack of support for Israel.
But Mr. Hagel's job as defense secretary would be to see to the defense of the United States. That, of course, includes assisting in the defense of close allies like Israel and of American interests abroad. But that does not and must not entail blind, unquestioning support for any ally's position regarding its enemies. The defense secretary's primary responsibility in decision-making is to American citizens.
It is remarkable that many of Mr. Hagel's critics voted to march off to war in Iraq based on a false premise concocted partially by a previous secretary of defense. Mr. Hagel's view clearly is not to shoot first and ask questions later, which all members of Congress should welcome. Yet, they question his insistence that all other avenues be explored before the United States uses force against Iran - even if Israel decides to do so first.
Mr. Hagel came by that view honestly, having been wounded twice while serving in Vietnam.
Members of Congress also should welcome Mr. Hagel's willingness to trim military spending, not according to the nonsensical across-the-board "sequester" authorized by Congress itself, but by setting priorities according to actual threats.
Mr. Hagel believes that the United States safely can reduce its vast nuclear stockpile and the $18 billion annual maintenance cost that goes with it, for example.
As defense secretary, Mr. Hagel likely would be a true agent of change at a time when the threats facing the United States are changing. He should be confirmed.