Critics complain, for example, that he’s too willing to trim the Pentagon budget, too prone to see daylight between Israeli and U.S. policies, and too cautious about committing to war to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Those opinions need airing.
At about 20% of all federal spending, the Pentagon budget should be scrubbed hard when one long war has ended and another is winding down. The U.S. must remain Israel’s unwavering ally, but that doesn’t require automatically siding with Israel’s leaders on settlement policies or giving up the U.S. role as an independent broker in peace attempts. On Iran, Hagel is right to want to pursue reasonable alternatives to plunging the U.S. into yet another major war in the Persian Gulf.