America must not ‘dictate’ to world, new defense chief says



Phil Stewart | Reuters

Published — Thursday 28 February 2013

Last update 1 March 2013 3:27 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

WASHINGTON: Decorated Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel was sworn in as US defense secretary on Wednesday after a bruising Senate confirmation battle, and promised to renew old US alliances and forge new ones without attempting to “dictate” to the world.
Addressing Pentagon employees shortly after a small, closed-door swearing-in ceremony, Hagel spoke optimistically, if vaguely, about global challenges ahead and the importance of American leadership abroad.
“We can’t dictate to the world. But we must engage the world. We must lead with our allies,” Hagel said in what appeared to be unscripted remarks.
“No nation, as great as America is, can do any of this alone.”
He also plainly acknowledged the prospect of looming automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester, saying flatly: “That’s a reality. We need to figure this out. You are doing that.”
“We need to deal with this reality,” he added, as hopes dim in Washington that Congress might act in time to forestall $46 billion in Pentagon cuts, due to kick in on March 1.
Hagel, a former two-term Republican US senator from Nebraska, broke from his party during the administration of George W. Bush to become a fierce critic of the Iraq war.
Many Republicans opposed to Hagel’s nomination scorned him over Iraq and raised questions about whether he was sufficiently supportive of Israel, tough enough on Iran or truly committed to maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent.
The 58-41 Senate vote to confirm him late on Tuesday was the closest vote ever to approve a defense secretary, with only four Republicans supporting him.

America must use power 'wisely'
Hagel did not acknowledge any Republican criticisms or reveal any personal concerns about working with Congress during his remarks on Wednesday. But he did articulate his views about the need for caution when America flexes its muscle abroad.
“We have great power and how we apply our power is particularly important,” Hagel said.
“That engagement in the world should be done wisely. And the resources that we employ on behalf of our country and our allies should always be applied wisely.”
Hagel’s views of war and the limits of American military power were shaped in part by his experiences in Vietnam, where he fought as an infantryman alongside his brother and was awarded two Purple Hearts, the medal given to troops wounded in battle.
Hagel still carries the shrapnel from one of his injuries and he is the first Vietnam veteran to lead the Pentagon.
Introducing Hagel in the Pentagon auditorium, an army infantryman with two tours in Afghanistan said Hagel “knows the very real cost of war” and was guided by principals to use force only when necessary.
Among his first tasks, Hagel will start weighing in on crucial decisions about the Afghan war, notably the size and scope of the American force that President Barack Obama will leave behind in the country once NATO declares its combat mission over at the end of 2014.
Leaving fewer troops than US commanders recommend could create tension with the military, and become a lightening-rod issue with Republicans.
Hagel’s predecessor, former defense secretary Leon Panetta, discussed with NATO allies in Brussels last week keeping a NATO force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops. A senior NATO official said last month that the United States expects other NATO allies to contribute between a third and half the number of troops Washington provides.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

SYDNEY: Amnesty International has demanded that Mustafa Al-Hosawi, a Saudi prisoner at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, be treated for the torture he underwent at the hands of the CIA.The US branch of the organization sent a message to health officials at the...
JEDDAH: The city’s airport staff saved a 20-year-old woman who tried to throw herself from the upper floor to the mezzanine floor in the southern hall. Sources said the suicide attempt was due to family disputes. Administrators said a supervisor in t...
RIYADH: Education Minister Ahmad Al-Issa has ordered to gradually close down private night schools beginning from the current year. The closure of these schools will be complete by 1439H.Al-Issa’s decision is based on reports of a body, which highlig...
RIYADH: A cross-section of Saudi society on Friday denounced the Jazan massacre that shook the nation on Thursday, when a gunman went on the rampage killing seven education officials and injuring several others in Al-Dair governorate.The culprit, ide...
JEDDAH: Maj. Gen. Awad Al-Balawi, head of the Saudi Border Guard, recently confirmed the expansion of the employment program for women within the border security sector. He said that the sector is entering a new phase as women will be employed in a n...
RIYADH: A medical team of the King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital (KASCH) at the King Abdulaziz Medical City (National Guard) here have successfully conducted the first liver transplant on a baby boy. Fahad Mari Said Al-Sairdh, father of the...
JEDDAH: The Makkah Investigation and Prosecution Board reintroduced the crane crash incident to the Riyadh Investigation and Prosecution Board recently, adding 10 more employees and supervisors from different government agencies before the courts. Th...
JEDDAH: The teacher who gunned down seven education officials in Al-Dair governorate on Thursday had been showing behavioral problems in recent days, Al-Janob Misfer Al-Subhan, director of King Faisal Secondary School in Dharan, was quoted as saying...
JEDDAH: The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is investigating the Nakheel Mall case, in which a girl was beaten up by a group of Haia members, an official of the commission has said. “The HRC is supposed to guarantee the rights of those harmed, whoever...
AL-AHSA: King Faisal University (KFU) in Al-Ahsa is currently studying the possibility of admitting female students to specialize in veterinary medicine, the director of the university, Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saati, confirmed. He said the matter has been p...
JEDDAH: A fingerprinting campaign, titled “Imprint Homeland,” against extremism and terrorism, was launched at the Jeddah corniche on Thursday night. The drive will cover all the 17 regions of Makkah province.The campaign, initiated by the Makkah gov...
RIYADH: The number of unemployed Saudi nationals reached 647,000 by the end of last year, of whom 56 percent, or 363,800, hold bachelor’s degrees or licenses. Female bachelor’s degree and license holders accounted for three-fourths of unemployed Saud...
RIYADH: Four citizens have been arrested in two murder cases, one of which was a road rage. One of the suspects resisted arrest and even opened fire on the police, but no one was injured.According to the Riyadh police, a clinic informed them that it...
MAKKAH: Thirty percent of male middle school students and 23 percent of female students take some form of drugs, a recent scientific study from the National Center for Youth Research confirmed. The study shows drug consumption rates among students in...
RIYADH: Several government departments participating in a campaign to fight breast cancer in the Eastern Province will offer their recommendations to the Ministry of the Interior to include breast cancer checks for women aged 40 and above as part of...

Stay Connected

Facebook