Page 3 Profile: Chuck Hagel, former US senator


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The Independent Online

The favourite to be Obama's Defence Secretary?

He's certainly a frontrunner, along with former Under Secretary of Defence Michèle Flournoy, though we're tempted to remain a little cautious. We predicted that Susan Rice would be the Secretary of State, but after concerted campaigning by Republicans it now looks likely that former presidential candidate John Kerry will take the post.

Are the knives out for Hagel too?

They certainly are, and the American media has been quick to criticise the former Nebraskan senator's record on defence and foreign policy. Hagel might be a Republican, but his views on warfare are way to the left of both the GOP and even most Democrats. He served in Vietnam, and was horrified by what he saw. "I owe it to those guys to never let this happen again to the country," he said, when questioned over his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Isn't the US weary of war?

Recent polls indicate that. But Hagel has a bigger problem. In 2006 he said: "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here", referring to pressure from groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill. Angering Jewish voters will not go down well.