Chuck Spinney: Chuck Hagel is NOT a Hippie!

Cultural Intelligence
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney

Stupid title but the attached piece by Spencer Ackerman is quite relevant for sorting out the implications of a Hegel nomination for Secretary of Defense.

I am ambivalent over this choice. The central question is how an incoming Secretary of Defense will deal with cleaning out the Pentagon’s Augean Stables.  Nothing in Hagel’s record (or in the records of the alternative choices) suggests an appreciation of or a desire to fix the problems at the roots of this mess (see here or here).  That is not a show stopper for Hegel in itself, but more troubling is the fact that there is no indication anyone in the press, Congress, or the White House is aware of the need for (or wants?) a defense secretary with the background and cajones to take on this task.  Moreover, no single person can do this alone.  A serious effort to clean up the Pentagon will require committed deputies, but the lack of debate of over any choice of 2nd or 3rd level political appointees suggests the current ineffectual team will remain in place.
My guess: a lot of noise and smoke and mirrors in the debate of the next defense secretary will mask the decision to continue business as usual in Versailles on the Potomac.  We will see.
Chuck Spinney
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Click on Image to Enlarge

Is Chuck Hagel a Hippie? Only If You Ignore His Record


Danger Room (, January 6, 2013

It’s looking like President Obama will nominate former Senator Chuck Hagel to run the Pentagon on Monday. It’ll mean a fight: for the last month, conservative critics of the former Republican senator have called him a wimp, insufficiently bellicose toward Iran, Hamas, Syria, the Taliban and other global malefactors. All of that overlooks the Vietnam combat veteran’s record in the Senate.

Spying on Americans’ communications without warrants? Have at it, said Hagel. A ballistic missile shield? Yes, please, and who cares if it angers the Kremlin. NATO’s 1999 war in Kosovo? Hagel was willing to flood it with U.S. soldiers.

Hagel earned his reputation as a skeptic of American military adventurism, as anyone who remembers his consistent criticism of the Iraq war will remember. But that criticism has blown Hagel’s reputation for dovishness out of proportion: after all, he voted in 2002 to authorize the war. National Journal’s Michael Hirsch insightfully argues Hagel’s reward for asking hard questions about the war is to have official Washington forget the rest of his record. So consider this a refresher.

Even as Hagel was making himself George W. Bush’s least favorite Republican, he aided Bush in crucial moments in congressional showdowns over the limits of presidential power in wartime.

Read more.


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