Hagel likened to Gates on US policy

Obama administration’s nominee for defense secretary Chuck Hagel has been likened to the US president’s first Pentagon chief Robert Gates in terms of defense cuts as well as American policy towards the Israeli regime and Iran.

Hagel and Gates “are remarkably similar and appear to share a number of policy preferences” on military spending, Iran and Israel, a Washington Post article emphasizes in its Monday edition.

Describing Hagel’s potential leadership over the US Defense Department as “a continuation of the Gates Pentagon,” the article goes on to compare the two former Republican policy makers on their positions regarding the Israeli regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran and downsizing of the American military institution.

Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran, formerly served as a moderate Republican Senator from the state of Nebraska until 2008. Gates was CIA director from 1991 to 1993 during George H. W. Bush’s administration and Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011 under Presidents Bush and Obama.

According to the article, Hagel has come under criticism by pro-Israeli advocates merely for calling for a “more evenhanded” US policy towards Tel Aviv, adding that for some supporters of the Israeli regime “more evenhanded” is a “nice way of saying that he’s less supportive.”

Hagel has also come under fire for once saying that “he was a senator from Nebraska, not a senator from Israel,” the daily further notes.

Moreover, the article further cites Gates as also speaking critically about the Tel Aviv regime, counseling Obama that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “an ungrateful ally” who was “endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel’s growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank.”

Gates is also quoted in the report as telling Obama that “Netanyahu had given the United States nothing in return for its support of Israel.”

On US approach towards Tehran, according to the report, both Hagel and Gates have expressed strong opposition to any American or Israeli military strikes on Iran, also officially endorsing the idea only as a last-resort option.

Gates has gone so far as stating in a recent speech that “the results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.”

However, although Gates has endorsed US sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Hagel has opposed the move while he was in the Senate, arguing that “direct negotiations would be the best path for resolving the conflict,” the daily adds.

The report further reiterates that both former officials also hold similar views on the need to considerably reduce huge US military spending.