Though he voted for the resolution allowing President George W. Bush to take military action in Iraq, he was among the most outspoken Republican critics of the war. In 2004, he declared that he had ‘‘no confidence’’ in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s leadership, and he later joined Democrats in opposing Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.
Whatever the criticism of Hagel’s views on Israel, perhaps his most pressing concern if confirmed as defense secretary will be the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. This week, Obama is expected to meet with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan to discuss the withdrawal set to begin in 2014.
Hagel has indicated that he would be comfortable with quickly drawing down the remaining 66,000 troops as Pentagon officials say the White House desires.