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If you ask Chuck Hagel, rumors of America's demise on the world stage are greatly exaggerated.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, the Defense Secretary staunchly defended President Barack Obama's handling of the Syria crisis and his overall foreign policy goals, lampooning those who claim the United States has "lost an edge" in world affairs since Obama took office.
"I don't think Assad just gave those chemical weapons up because he thought we were weak," Hagel told Tapper. "I think just the opposite."
Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have not hesitated to paint the administration's handling of the Syria crisis as rudderless, saying President Obama backed away from his self-declared red-line when he sought congressional authorization for air strikes as a punitive response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons.
When asked if allies and enemies alike no longer believed the United States' threats, Hagel thoroughly dismissed the notion.
"It's a bit simplistic to say - and I do hear it from some people - that somehow the United States has lost an edge or a perception of our edge or a commitment to the world," Hagel said.
"The facts just don't bear that out."