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Letter: Misleading column on Ayotte, Hagel

The column by William C. Martel (“Good questions from Ayotte, but troubling answers from Hagel,” Monitor Forum, Feb. 14) was misleading in several ways.

The most objectionable was the headline. Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s questions to witnesses in Senate investigations have often sounded foolish, usually ideologically driven. But Martel’s column tells us little about the questions Ayotte actually asked, only that she asked about Iran when interviewing Sen. Chuck Hagel for his appointment for secretary of defense.

The second problem comes with the uncritical citation of Martel’s academic credentials as a faculty member at Tufts, suggesting that Martel’s objection to Hagel’s nomination is a dispassionate scholarly judgement. But ideological writing is not dispassionate. Please look up Martel’s column on the “Axis of Authority.” It suggests a growing conspiracy among Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and other countries. That article makes the same mistake which American foreign policy made some 60 years ago, ignoring centuries of hositilty between Russia and China. And cooperation between Russia and Iran? An extremist Muslim state getting chummy with a country which has its own problems with Muslim militancy (Chechnya and other states)?

Martel’s conclusion to the column was most disturbing. While he concedes that a war with Iran would be horrible, he says it would be worse if Iran develops nuclear weapons. Bad, yes, but what to do? Since many military experts, including some in Israel, argue that a bombing campaign would do nothing ultimately to halt Iran’s nucelar program, is Martel advocating a ground war in Iraq? And is that what Ayotte wants to keep on the table?

Unlike Hagel, neither Ayotte or Martel has any combat experience.



Legacy Comments3

Gooooooo Kelly !

Nice letter. Like most of Hagel's supporters, I was disappointed he didn't defend himself and his positions better--he surely should have anticipated tough questions from grandstanders like Ayotte, looking to score points for the future with the right's neo-con foreign policy wing, for whom Hagel has nothing but disdain. Hagel is as far from being a "Mr. Go Along" as it is possible to be. To the contrary, Hagel has always been very much his own man--his comments on gays in the military and on the power of AIPAC were un-politic. But Obama wants and needs someone at the top who has credibility with the military, and also knows the Pentagon budget is bloated and needs to downsize. Hagel is a conservative with libertarian leanings, who spoke the truth on the folly of the Iraq surge. He has a lifetime rating of 84% from the American Conservative Union. He's a decorated veteran of Vietnam, having received 2 Purple Hearts. His nomination demonstrates again that Obama intends to govern from the middle. Having 2 Vietnam vets in the Cabinet is indicative of a far more cautious foreign policy going forward than the one we adopted after 9/11. That one cost thousands of lives, our nation's reputation, and will end up costing us $5-6 trillion--with little to show for it. Not a good return on our "investment".

What? Both Conservatives and Liberals said that Hagel was a huge flop at his hearings. Kelly Ayotte rocks she is going to go way further than Mr. Go Along to get Along, Hagel.

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