Hagel Strong Choice for Smart Power

January 7, 2013 By Dan Glickman

Much has and will be written about Chuck Hagel given his nomination today as Secretary of Defense, but one thing we know for certain is that he believes in a smart power foreign policy and the importance of a strong and effective International Affairs Budget.  And if confirmed, I am confident he will continue the new tradition of a close working relationship between the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom.

Recent Secretaries of Defense Bob Gates and Leon Panetta have worked closely with their counterparts, Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, to put a smart power focus on U.S. foreign policy—one where development and diplomacy are seen as essential pillars of national security, alongside defense.  Given they were colleagues in the Senate and on the Foreign Relations Committee, we could expect the same from a Secretary of Defense Hagel and a Secretary of State Kerry.

Senator Hagel has been a consistent supporter of strengthening America’s resources at the State Department, USAID, and other civilian agencies. In Congress, Hagel led efforts year after year in encouraging the President to bolster the International Affairs Budget, saying, “Investments in our international affairs programs bolster our national security by allowing us to work with foreign partners to track down terrorists and weapons, to improve the political and economic lives of others, and to help stabilize fragile states.”

As a member of the USGLC’s Advisory Council, Senator Hagel has continued to speak out about the importance of America’s role as a leader in the world, and he was honored by the USGLC, along with Senator Paul Sarbanes, in 2006 for his commitment to development and diplomacy programs.

Having been through senate confirmation myself, I don’t envy the task ahead for Senator Hagel.  One thing I do expect is that we will hear more from him in this process about why it is critical for the U.S. to use all of its tools of engagement to meet our national interests in a very dangerous world.

Read the USGLC’s profile of Chuck Hagel’s record on Smart Power.

Dan Glickman served as agriculture secretary 1995-2001, and represented the 4th District of Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977-1995.  He is the chairman of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.