Your criticism of Chuck Hagel in the January 8, 2013, issue of USA TODAY was troubling as it is not evident from a review of your Wikipedia biography that you have any experience in diplomacy, military matters or knowledge of Middle East history.
You stated that Chuck Hagel's views on foreign and defense policy are out of the "mainstream." But having views that differ from the mainstream, being able to think outside the box, is what separates leaders from followers.
As for your comments about Hagel's views on Israel, Hagel may not dance to Benjamin Netanyahu's fiddle but neither do many Israelis and Jewish Americans who believe the two state solution is in Israel's and America's best interest. Please Google J Street's article "The Facts on Chuck Hagel" and read why this pro-Israel Jewish organization supports and defends Mr. Hagel as a friend of Israel. You should also Google and read "Jewish Voice for Peace," articles by Ze'ev Almog and Chemi Shalev about Chuck Hagel in the Israeli Newspaper Haaretz defending Hagel as a friend of Israel, as well as Israeli writer Uri Averny's "Welcome Chuck."
As for the October 12, 2000, Senate petition condemning the Palestinian violence that Hagel did not sign, the events that led up to the violence of the Second Intifada are worthy of note:
Arafat recognized the state of Israel in 1993 but in return received only Israel's recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people.
A Zionist's massacre of unarmed Muslims praying inside a Mosque shortly after the September 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, another Zionist's assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and settler protests against the Oslo Accords caused the Israeli government to fear civil war. Netanyahu, in a 2001 video, reportedly unaware he was being recorded, said that he stopped the Oslo Accords in 1997 and explained how.
By September 2000, the Palestinians were feeling cheated and duped as they watched the continued building of ever more settlements on land the Oslo Accords had led them to understand would constitute their new state.
But the spark that appears to have set the violence off was Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount on 28 September 2000, accompanied by 1000 Israeli police officers, his role in the massacre of what was estimated by an Israeli journalist to be between 3,0003,500 defenseless old men, women and children in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon during Israel's 1982 occupation of Beirut and his announcement that day that "the Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands."
A 12 November 2010 BBC NEWS Middle East article entitled "Profile: Ariel Sharon" notes: "Critics say Mr. Sharon knew the visit would trigger violence and gambled on the Israeli public turning to a tough leader like him who would know how to handle it firmly."
In light of the above, the question is not why Chuck Hagel refused to sign the Senate petition asking President Clinton to condemn Palestinian violence but why 96 other senators did.
Please Google and read "Fact check: Hagel's record on Iran" by Robert Farley and Eugene Kiely, as well as J Street's three page response to your statements about Hagel's vote on designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard to be a terrorist organization, and note that Hagel said that he voted against doing so because he feared the Bush administration might use the Senate resolution as cover for a military attack.
Iran was extremely helpful after 9/11 in setting up a new government in Afghanistan and its representative said his government wanted to end 30 years of conflict.
"Before invading Iraq, the Bush administration rebuffed a series of overtures from Iran's reformist government -- among them offers to help the United States stabilize Iraq after the invasion -- which culminated in a secret proposal for a grand bargain resolving all outstanding issues between the United States and Iran, including Iran's alleged support for terrorism and the development of its nuclear program. The United States, which had branded Iran part of the "axis of evil," decided on a confrontational approach." (American-Iranian Council Wikipedia) and (PBS Frontline Documentary showing on October 23, 2007)
If you are unaware of the details of the above, Google and read David Crist's "After 9/11: The United States and Iran" (September 11, 2012). Much more information is available on the internet.
You state that: "Iran is rapidly pursuing nuclear weapons capacity. The surest way to avoid military conflict is to have a strong and credible defense; weakness and appeasement only invite military aggression."
Has it occurred to you that having suffered a million causalities after Iraq attacked it in 1980 with our support and found its offer of a grand bargain to the Bush administration rebuffed, Iran may be pursuing that exact strategy and wants to avoid war more than we do?
Please Google "Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel 'Must Be Wiped Off the Map'," where you can see Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor acknowledging on
Al Jazeera English on April 17, 2012 that Iranian leaders have never called for Israel to be "wiped" off the map.
We will need the Iranians to help keep the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan whenever we leave. This may be another reason why Hagel voted against designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization and advocates direct, comprehensive negotiations with Iran's government.
Dennis Lamb retired from the CIA in 2002 after serving 30 years in its Directorate of Operations as a Case Officer and as an Intelligence Analyst. He is a native of Chelsea.
The thoughts outlined above represent my personal views and not the views of my former employer.