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Sen. Joe Manchin should vote against Kahl nomination

Colin Kahl’s hostility towards Israel is beyond unconventional. It’s outlandish.

Colin Kahl. Credit: Center for Strategic & International Studies via Wikimedia Commons.
Colin Kahl. Credit: Center for Strategic & International Studies via Wikimedia Commons.
Pastor Doug Joseph

The Biden administration is currently working to push its nominees for high office through the Senate confirmation process. The majority seems to be well-qualified and will be confirmed in a bipartisan manner, though not all are deserving of holding public office.

The president recently nominated a Washington insider, Colin Kahl, to serve as one of the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. Department of Defense. Kahl has earned many distinctions—mostly for being imprecise and incorrect about U.S. policy outcomes, and for being a reliably antagonistic anti-Israel voice.

In the coming days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) will have the opportunity to vote on his nomination as a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He should vote “no” and send Kahl back to a Washington think tank where he can do no harm to our national security or our great allies in Jerusalem.

Kahl’s hostility towards Israel is beyond unconventional. It’s outlandish. While serving in the Obama administration, he led an effort to strip recognition of Israel’s true capital of Jerusalem from the Democratic Party’s platform. Around the same time, Kahl argued in The Washington Post that Israel’s daring 1981 operation to destroy Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor was a failure, despite its actual real-world success, and came dangerously close to pinning Saddam’s subsequent behavior on Israel.

If Kahl is confirmed, the strong alliance against shared enemies, cooperation in developing lifesaving techniques for wounded men and women on the battlefield, and the degree to which Israel remains prepared and confident that it can defend itself against Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran would be put into question.

Kahl’s disqualifying positions are not limited to his antagonism towards Israel. He has held numerous positions concerning Iran that call his judgment into question. Among the most disturbing was his opposition to America’s designation of Iran’s ruthless Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The IRGC and its proxies are responsible for terror attacks around the globe, in addition to the deaths of numerous Americans and Israelis.

These positions reflect a belief system that embraces lies over truth and appeasement of foes over loyalty to principles. Such a belief system would be harmful at any level of government, but it’s downright dangerous in such a senior defense position. If Kahl is confirmed, I shudder to think what might come of America’s future stance towards Iran or the robust relationship between the U.S. military and the Israeli armed forces.

The stakes are high. I have every confidence that Sen. Manchin is disturbed by Kahl’s record on Israel because, like the majority of West Virginians, the senator has Israel in his heart.

I also know Sen. Manchin is thoughtful and deliberative, and that he evaluates a nominee’s track record before making up his mind. It’s a big part of why we have elected him to represent us in Washington three times. His approach should be no different regarding Kahl’s nomination, especially since the senator distinctly understands the consequences of a vote to confirm.

The Senate’s authority to advise and consent on presidential nominees is one I do not believe any senator takes lightly. In this case, Kahl’s nomination may well hinge on one vote. And that vote will very likely be our state’s own Sen. Joe Manchin. Given his West Virginia values and common-sense approach to the Middle East, I am hopeful that he’ll make the right decision and decline to support such a misguided nomination.

Pastor Doug Joseph is the West Virginia State Director for Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

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