In remarks on ‘threats and challenges,’ new DefSec Chuck Hagel leaves out Iran

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Hagel with Sergeant John Wirth before addressing Pentagon today
Hagel with Sergeant John Wirth of Nebraska, who introduced Hagel at the Pentagon today (photo by Navy Petty Officer Chad J. McNeeley)

Having supported Chuck Hagel’s nomination so strongly, as a signal of a less-militant policy in the Middle East, I can exult today at his swearing-in and prepare myself for years of disappointment. In the exultation phase, I’d note that his speech emphasized ordinary people who are hurt by American militarism, and that he said nothing about Iran. He was introduced by an Army Sergeant from Nebraska, above, which Chuck Hagel was when he was in Vietnam. Humility; moving.

Two excerpts from his speech, about which Defense states, “As Written by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel”:

As your leader, I will always do my best for our country and for all of you – and your families.  As with my friends and predecessors Leon Panetta and Bob Gates, your safety, success, and welfare will always be at the forefront of my decisions….

And this was the only specific mention Hagel made to US engagements overseas, apart from a paragraph about winding down in Afghanistan. Notice that Iran isn’t on the menu. And reference to Asia-Pacific region is pretty vague:

As we turn the page on more than a decade of grinding conflict, we must broaden our attention to future threats and challenges.  That means continuing to increase our focus on the Asia-Pacific region, reinvigorating historic Alliances like NATO, and making new investments in critical capabilities like cyber.

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