Tom Zirpoli: Hagel right person to lead Pentagon

When you look at American politics today, sometimes you just have to shake your head.

That is exactly what I did after hearing Sen. John McCain state that former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, "is not qualified to be Secretary of Defense."

Of course, we all remember McCain as the former GOP presidential nominee who thought that former half-term governor Sarah Palin was qualified to be Vice President of the United States and, if necessary, President of the United States. I think most people would agree that McCain's choice of Palin for his running mate makes him uniquely unqualified to judge a presidential nominee.

McCain, along with his sidekick Sen. Lindsey Graham, will not vote for Hagel to head the Pentagon because Hagel was wise enough to question President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq. This is interesting, I think, because when you look back at the reasons why we invaded Iraq with the facts we know today, Hagel was right. McCain and Graham were wrong. Invading Iraq was a mistake. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and it had nothing to do with the attacks on America on 9/11.

The war in Iraq has left thousands of American soldiers dead and tens of thousands of others disabled for life. This unnecessary war has added a trillion dollars to our national debt and will continue to be a burden on our wounded troops and our national treasure for decades to come.

McCain and Graham were big supporters of invading Iraq. They have been critical of Obama's plans to withdraw from Iraq. If it were up to them, we'd still have over 100,000 American troops fighting and dying there. They still can't admit that they were wrong about Iraq, and they are determined to keep Hagel, a Republican who had it right, from running the Pentagon.

McCain and Graham also question Hagel's commitment to Israel because Hagel once made an observation about the power of the Israeli lobby and its unique influence over most members of Congress.

I sometimes wonder if McCain and Graham are senators representing their home states of Arizona and South Carolina or the nation of Israel.

Anyone who knows anything about Washington politics understands that Hagel's comments about the power of the Israeli lobby in America were correct then and continue to be correct today. But if you tell the truth in Washington, especially when it comes to our blind political allegiance to Israel, you are severely punished.

People hold grudges in Washington, and they hold them for a very long time. McCain and Graham apparently remember that Hagel was not a loyal Republican to President Bush when Bush decided to invaded Iraq. Now it is their time to get even by holding up Hagel's confirmation.

On the bright side, Hagel will eventually be confirmed. Then, we will have a veteran running the Pentagon who understands the reality of war from his experience in Vietnam.

Hagel has been criticized for his lack of enthusiasm for the war in Iraq and his belief that war should be a decision of last resort in order to protect our national security.

His philosophy makes sense to me, and seems to be just what we need at this time at the Pentagon, especially after our blunder in Iraq.

With Hagel in the Pentagon, perhaps America will be a little more cautious about sending thousands of young Americans to an unnecessary war.

At least for the next four years.