Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) lambasted Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel over his 2009 interview with Al Jazeera where he agreed with a description of the United States as the “world’s bully.”
Cruz played a clip of the interview at Hagel’s confirmation hearing Thursday, leading to this exchange:
TED CRUZ: Senator Hagel, do you think it’s appropriate for the chief civilian leader of U.S. military forces to agree with the statement that both the perception and the reality is that the United States is “the world’s bully?”
CHUCK HAGEL: I didn’t hear her say that, by the way, the United States. And I think my comment was it’s a relevant and good observation. I don’t think that I said I agree with it.
CRUZ: With respect, I think the record speaks for itself. It was in writing that she said the U.S. is the world’s bully, that is the reality. And you said, “Her observation is a good one, it’s relevant, uh, yes to her question.” You explicitly agreed with the characterization of the United States as the world’s bully, and I would suggest that is not a characterization. I think the United States has spilled more blood, more treasure, standing for freedom, liberating people across the world, and to go on Al Jazeera, a foreign network, broadcasting propaganda to nations that are hostile to us and to explicitly agree with the characterization of the United States as the world’s bully, I would suggest is not the conduct one would expect of a secretary of defense.
HAGEL: Senator, she said that was an observation.
CRUZ: I will point out that her quote was “the perception and the reality.” And with that, my time has expired. I look forward to a second round of questioning.