Link To The Past
It was February 3, 2011, three days before what would have been the birthday of Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6), and the U.S. Senate was celebrating the legacy of the 40th President. The Hill observed
Republicans, Democrats, and one Independent senator highlighted moments of Reagan's life and presidency today in a two-hour tribute that is expected to be followed by a similar tribute in the House on Feb. 9...
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) lamented that today, Americans are faced with 'whining' that the nation cannot reduce spending, and said the United States needs to rediscover Reagan’s approach. “That's what we need to return to,” he said."
The Alabaman served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama under President Reagan, who later nominated him to a judgeship of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, though he was not confirmed. To Sessions, as to many Republicans, Reagan was nearly a deity and in a defense of the latter's Strategic Defense Initiative, Sessions wrote glowingly in 2008 in the Strategic Defense Quarterly
The president argued that “the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other nations and human beings by threatening their existence.” While acknowledging the technological challenges inherent in missile defense, often compared to “hitting a bullet with a bullet,” Reagan nevertheless “call[ed] upon the scientiic community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
Senator Sessions, meet Senator Sessions. The conservative Washington Free Beacon reports
On nuclear weapons, Hagel was questioned by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), chairman of the armed services strategic forces subcommittee, about recent efforts to backtrack on his support for an international anti-nuclear weapons forum called Global Zero and a report by the group that advocated sharp cuts in U.S. nuclear forces.
The Global Zero report called for the total elimination of land-based ICBMs and tactical nuclear arms, in talks with Russia or unilaterally by the United States.
Hagel asserted that Global Zero “didn’t propose or call for anything” and that other administrations had proposed such bilateral, not unilateral arms cuts.
Quoting the Global Zero report, Session stated that it called for either bilateral cuts with Russia or cuts to be “implemented unilaterally.”
“I don’t believe that’s consistent with the policy of the country as a whole,” Sessions said.
Sessions said he was troubled by Hagel’s anti-nuclear views.
“I believe the secretary of defense should be the core, the rock-solid person for defense of America,” Sessions said. “I believe he should project an image of solidity and steadfastness that the whole world and American people can depend on. And I’m more than a little troubled by the report that you participated in, Global Zero report, that calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and clearly suggests that’s an achievable goal in a realistic period of time, although certainly not immediately.”
Hagel, as would be expected, denies the charge. So, too, does Politifact, which assessed the validity of the accusation of Americans for a Strong Defense- which was formed to oppose the nomination of the Nebraskan to Defense Secretary- that the nominee has advocated "an end to our nuclear program." Politifact concluded
Hagel has called for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons, but with some major caveats the ad ignores. He is a supporter of Global Zero, which has called for worldwide elimination by 2030. The report he co-authored calls for reducing the U.S. stockpile to 900 nuclear warheads by 2022, but it says that the best way to achieve that reduction is together with Russia and other countries.
But an official who blissfully ignores dangers posed to the Free World by our enemies and naively "calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons" is irresponsible. So, too, it was in, respectively, 1985, 1984, 1986, and 1983 when the President of the United States declared
“We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.”
“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”
“It is my fervent goal and hope…that we will some day no longer have to rely on nuclear weapons to deter aggression and assure world peace. To that end the United States is now engaged in a serious and sustained effort to negotiate major reductions in levels of offensive nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of eliminating these weapons from the face of the earth.”
“I can’t believe that this world can go on beyond our generation and on down to succeeding generations with this kind of weapon on both sides poised at each other without someday some fool or some maniac or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us. And I just think of what a sigh of relief would go up from everyone on this earth if someday–and this is what I have–my hope, way in the back of my head–is that if we start down the road to reduction, maybe one day in doing that, somebody will say, ‘Why not all the way? Let’s get rid of all these things’.”
Republicans revere (or pretend to revere) Reagan. Democrats are intimidated into withholding any criticism of the former President and instead praise him in an effort to establish their centrist bonafide. Few in the mainstream media, therefore, will recognize in Jeff Sessions' overblown criticism of Chuck Hagel a classic case of GOP mythmaking.