American conservatives have locked on to something. Hagel said in an interview seven years ago in a recorded conversation with Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for the U.S.

"The political reality is that you intimidate a lot - not you, but the Jewish lobby, intimidates a lot of people in there. And again, I've always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel."

"I didn't sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counter-productive and didn't solve a problem," Hagel told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Hagel’s position on Iran has also drawn fire because he has opposed some U.S. sanctions - urging negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

"I have not supported unilateral sanctions because when it is us alone they don't work and they just isolate the United States," Hagel told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Iranian foreign policy expert Mohammad Ali Shabani told Amanpour that the animosity between Iranian and the U.S. governments is so deeply institutionalized the nominee for Secretary of Defense does not have much of an impact in practical terms. Though he said it might send a message “positive signal” to decision makers in Iran that the U.S. could be open to more dialogue.

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