U.S. Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel: Israelís Nukes More of a Threat than Iranís
In a newly surfaced video recorded in 2008, during a promotion event for his then-recently published book , Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel expresses more concern over Israelís nuclear weapons than Iranís and advocates the U.S. engage with Iran and Syria:
In the video, an audience member asks ďif Israel is attacked by Iran or an Iranian proxy like Hezbollah in a way that existentially threatens Israel, almost to the extent that Israel was attacked in í73 and it was existentially threatened, would you support an American airstrike using U.S. forces, B2s, whatever on Iran?Ē Hagel responds with a three minute lecture. A full transcription is below, with relevant highlights (courtesy of the Weekly Standard).
ďIíll answer your question as honestly as I can. Thatís a hypothetical question that somehow frames up the simplicity of the hypothetical question. The complications in the Middle East, and Iím certainly not an expert there, I have a chapter on the Middle East, I do know [laughter], I know a little something about the Middle East. I spent a lot of time there. And I spent a lot of time in Israel with the prime ministers and others. You who are well informed on this issue know the complexities starting with go back to the Bible, go back to ancient times, thousands of years. I mean that, if you really want to start trying to understand the Middle East, Paul, or David Aaron Miller, who you may know, has a new book out on this, The Not So Promised Land [The Much Too Promised Land]. And if you want to read something that is very, very enlightening, this guy heís getting tremendous reviews on it. Heís Jewish. He worked in the State Department, worked for Baker, worked for Albright, I think heís worked for four secretaries of state, different Democrats, Republicans. But itís a great, great book.Ē
ďBut your question, I mean the complication of whatís going on there, Hamas is already attacking Israel. Iran supports Hamas. Iran supports Hezbollah. What I would much rather see is this administration, or hopefully the next administration, engage Iran, engage Syria. When I hear the talk about Ė well you canít talk with Iran, you canít talk with Syria and weíre, we should stay where we are and support Israel, and so on, well you miss the point.Ē
ďOur policy has been so successful I believe, hasnít it [laughter], that the Middle East is far better off today than it has ever been, isnít it? [Laughter.] I mean all those countries, Lebanon is in great shape, Gaza is in great shape, Israel is in great shape, Iran, Iraq, things have never looked better, because we wonít talk to anybody. We are not going to have peace, stability, security or even any hints of it in the Middle East until Iran and Syria and all the players are part of it.
ďNow that doesnít apologize for or doesnít close our eyes to what Iran has been doing, what Iran does do, but unless they are engaged in some way , then I donít see this getting any better, and then where this could go, where this could eventually go. Someone was asking me the other day about a nuclear exchange in the world, where that would come from. I said well Iíll give you a scenario thatís very real. If Israel gets backed up enough into a corner and Israel uses a tactical theater nuclear weapon, you want to talk about seeing some things unravel in the world. The United States shouldnít even be thinking about options of bombing Iran or anybody else. I mean we got our hands full right now. And weíre in such a hell of a mess.Ē