The Truth About the Cinematic New Chuck Hagel Attack Ads

The Atlantic

We live in a dangerous world — so begin a bunch of new TV ads attacking Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel over his foreign policy views, in particular his well-known support of nuclear disarmament. According to NBC News, the ads were commissioned by a group called Americans for a Strong Defense and will target four states (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Colorado) "where Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2014." How effective are they going to be when it comes to public opinion ahead of next week's confirmation hearings? And how much truth is there in the new advertising?

RELATED: If Chuck Hagel Won't Be Secretary of Defense, Who Will Be?

First, consider the art direction. The ads resemble the opening credits of a Hollywood spy movie — blue and green computer interfaces, grainy aerial video, vaguely robotic sounds — in order to emphasize, it seems, the foreign threat Hagel's confirmation would accelerate:

RELATED: Get Ready for the Great Chuck Hagel Confirmation Fight of 2013

RELATED: It's Official: Chuck Hagel Will Be Named Secretary of Defense

Second, consider the content. The ads claim three different countries (North Korea, Iran and Russia) are somehow capable of attacking the United States with long-range missiles — and that Hagel wishes to retreat from them. (For effect, the ads include quick video cuts of cable news anchors saying so, with their faces superimposed over footage of rockets launching.) But consider the following:

In what was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader, the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea.

  • The only reason Russia is developing an inter-continental ballistic missile is because... the U.S. has insisted on building a missile-defense system in nearby Europe:

Russia has viewed the planned U.S.-led NATO missile defence system around Europe as a potential threat to its nuclear forces, rejecting the U.S. assurances that the shield is intended to counter an Iranian missile threat.

Regarding Iran, Schumer said Hagel rejected a containment strategy regarding the country and said the U.S. would do "whatever it takes" to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

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