Regarding President Barack Obama's nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense:
Despite impressive credentials, Hagel faces a hostile fight with select members of Congress over some of his past positions and comments on Iran, Israel, the Iraq War and even homosexuals.
In analyzing each contentious point, I see nothing to prevent approval of Hagel's nomination.
Many moderates believe, as does Hagel, that a strictly bellicose approach in dealing with Iran is counterproductive and that unilateral sanctions don't necessarily work.
Regarding Israel, if he had mentioned the "Israeli lobby" instead of the "Jewish lobby" in this country, less may have been made of it. The United States is firmly committed to the security of Israel, as is Hagel. However, we must also show concern for the plight of the Palestinians if there is ever to be a two-state solution and peace between the antagonists.
The fact that Hagel voted for the Iraq War but was against the subsequent surge indicates he regretted our initial involvement after the truth became known about a fabricated weapons-of-mass-destruction story. He did not want to send more troops into an intractable situation.
And finally, just like numerous others in America, his views on gays have changed, and he has openly apologized for past insensitive remarks.
Finally, having someone who served in our military as an enlisted man rise to represent us as secretary of defense conjures up the quintessential American dream of success through patriotism, dedication and high values. Individuals like Chuck Hagel inspire others.
He believes as do I that war must be the last option our country chooses to solve any disagreement. Hawks in our government have led us into war far too often, but few have borne the scars of war as has the decorated Vietnam warrior Hagel. We must reign in defense spending as part of inevitable cost-cutting measures ahead, and a moderate former GI is a guy I want leading the charge.
FRANK L. TAMRU
Egg Harbor Township
Dissent is good -
Hagel can criticize Israel
Regarding the Jan. 11 Richard Cohen column, "Hagel doesn't have a 'Jewish problem'":
Cohen is right again. A problem may exist with those who see opposing an action by Israel as something other than a disagreement about those actions. But dissent is neither hateful nor disloyal. It is rooted in historical events, such as the Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War, and is constitutionally protected.
We should take a moment to recall how the dissent initiated by some students during the Vietnam War initially resulted in derogatory name-calling of those dissenters, yet stirred the conscience of many citizens. Our country's foundation in dissent should be valued, not denigrated.