Neither John Kerry nor Chuck Hagel is qualified for the Cabinet positions they have been nominated to by President Barack Obama, retired Army Gen. Paul Vallely tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
“Both of them, when you listen to their statements and how they view the world, they’re part of the naïveté of the Obama administration,” Vallely, who served in the Vietnam War, tells Newsmax. “We need people who are operators that have been out in the field, who understand what’s going on — and are put in a position where they influence not only policy, but how we use our armed forces.”
Kerry, the Democratic Massachusetts senator, is being nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State — and Obama put forth Hagel, the former Nebraska GOP senator, as his candidate for Defense Secretary.
: Should Kerry and Hagel Be Confirmed ?
Hagel, for instance, has come under fire since before his nomination for some of his past comments about Israel and his resistance to many of the policies on Iran during the George W. Bush White House.
“With regards to Israel, we have to have somebody that understands that Israel is the only democracy in that area right now, in the Middle East,” Vallely tells Newsmax. “We need to stand by them. I also just returned from the Syria-Turkey area, and there are proxy forces over there that we should be assisting.
“We need that kind of forward-thinking strategy that’s going to make America effective in its foreign policy and at the same time stand by our Constitution and protect American interests.”
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Vallely — the co-author of “Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror” — is most troubled about Hagel’s nomination.
“I’m looking for somebody who has the wisdom, has the strategic vision and the understanding of what the threats are to the United States — to be able to articulate those and be able to come up with solutions to guide the policymakers at the White House — to identify all those threats, verbally, that we receive from intelligence sources from within the Pentagon, within the defense intelligence agency, and to be able to articulate that to Congress and to the American people.
“I don’t think Senator Hagel has been able to do that,” Vallely added. “I don’t think he really understands, as a visionary, what the threats are. I’m not sure in my mind that he has a clear understanding of that because I haven’t heard him articulate it.”
As Defense Secretary, Vallely — who retired from the Army in 1992 as deputy commanding general, Pacific command — predicts that Hagel would easily endorse nations antagonistic to Israel.
“He would pursue the sanctions in the appeasement of an enemy to Israel and an enemy to the United States, not only in their nuclear weapons development program but also the support of international terrorism that comes out of Tehran — Hezbollah being one of the biggest proxies.
“I don’t think he has a good understanding,” Vallely said of Hagel. “I do respect him for serving in the country and in Vietnam like I did, but that certainly doesn’t qualify him to be a Secretary of Defense in any regard. I think there are more qualified people out there.”
In one area where strong U.S. leadership is needed is in Syria, Vallely said. Reports continue to surface that embattled President Bashar al-Assad is using chemical and biological weapons that were produced as recently as late November, despite warnings from President Obama and condemnation by such nations as China, Turkey, and several Arab states.
“We did receive some videos,” he said. “We do know that the Syrian armed forces have been using phosphorous in its munitions in the bombing of the cities there. We had video that I viewed last week of a young Syrian boy that was hit with the phosphorous. That’s a chemical that severely burns the skin and is very fatal in the long run.
“We also know from the free Syrian forces that he has used to a degree a spray from the helicopters of chlorine gas — and I did see a video on that as well.
“We know he has chemical and biological weapons,” he added. “We know he may be mixing or will mix sarin [a deadly nerve gas] to disperse by air and on the ground — and he will do that as a last resort as he continues to falter.”
But opposition to Assad must come from individual countries, not “the international community,” Vallely said.
“Turkey’s involved very much involved in dealing with over 200,000 refugees. I don’t look at the international community as a community anymore, or the United Nations. We have to look at individual countries that will actually step up and do something. People say ‘the international community,’ but what does that really mean?”
And, as for the United States, it should provide assistance — but not foot aid.
: Should Kerry and Hagel Be Confirmed ?
“They really don’t want troops on the ground. They would like support in terms of humanitarian support, medical aid, food,” Vallely said. “Having met with 70 commanders of the Free Syrian Army, I can tell you they want a free Syria. They’re not radical Islamists. They want a secular type of government. They’re very sincere. I felt very comfortable with them.
“I had an opportunity to meet also with a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Free Syrian Army over there that’s controlling most of the opposition is the type of people we would want to support as proxies — giving them the aid they need, giving them the ammunition they need, and we do not have to have troops on the ground as many people think.
“There are a lot of ways we can do this,” Vallely said. “But we need people, again, as operators at the Pentagon and National Security Council, who understand what’s going on on the ground.
“You just can’t go over and visit at very high levels and expect to know what’s going on, because the politicians will tell you what they want you to hear — and you won’t necessarily hear it from the people on the ground.”
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