mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
After the Midterms
Exit Hagel

The New York Times revealed this morning that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been pressured out, in the first major personnel move following the historic defeat for the President during the midterm elections. The broader background behind Hagel’s exit is not only the recent defeat, but also the ongoing setbacks to the Administration’s foreign policy worldwide. As the Times reports:

The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity… Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Reports in sources such as Politico already suggest that Susan Rice and other Administration insiders were the ones applying the “pressure” that forced Hagel out the door. If this is true, it suggests that the President has responded to a midterm election in which the country expressed a desire to see more outside, and specifically more Republican input, on policy by closing ranks and expelling the last major Republican member of his cabinet. (VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald, a Republican, remains; this post does not carry the Secretary of Defense’s national security importance.) All three of the names mooted by the Times as possible replacements for Hagel—Michele Flournoy, Sen. Jack Reed (D., RI), and Ashton B. Carter—come from the President’s own party.

We’ve written that the President needs to seek more adversarial counsel, as concerns about a White House in bunker mode grow. If the President had concerns about Hagel’s ability to lead as the country faces new foreign policy challenges, replacing him was his duty. Choosing Hagel’s successor will be the second half of that responsibility, and will go some way toward setting the tone for the President’s last two years in office.

Features Icon
show comments
  • George Armstrong Custer

    Only a liberal reporter for the New York Times would, with a straight face and no sense of irony, describe Chuck Hagel, an infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, as having sufficient military experience to run the Pentagon. Fact is Obama chose Chuck Hagel as a way to get even with Republicans. Rarely has there been some one as unqualified as Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defnse.

    • Corlyss

      I had to laugh when I heard NPR’s report on this. First of all, I never thought I’d hear NPR say anything like “he had trouble managing anything as large as the DoD . . . ” Secondly, such an admission implicates their darling Doofus, who had even less experience managing anything.

      • adk

        NPR is a propaganda outfit for the “He Who Can Never Be Wrong.” Thus, they praised Hagel’s nomination 2 years ago and threw him under the bus just as soon as they heard the whistle. NPR should be renamed POP (Pravda on Potomac) instead.

        • Corlyss

          “Pravda on Potomac” LOL That’s great. Can I quote you? A friend calls it something else, but I dare not say what because it truly is unPC.

          • adk

            Sure, you can quote me.

    • Arkeygeezer

      Chuck Hagel was very effective in undermining President Bush when he was a Senator. President Obama rewarded him by appointing him to Secretary of Defense; a position once held by Vice President Chaney. Now, President Obama has fired him much to the chagrin of Senator John McCain; another Bush detractor.. What goes around; comes around!

      • Corlyss

        “Senator John McCain”
        Another shallow idiot who seemed to think that because he spent years in a Communist POW camp he was qualified to be president. Absurd. The man has an ego even bigger than Obama’s.

  • wigwag

    It is remarkable that Obama has selected so many cabinet members who are literally stupid; that’s not a comment on quality of their policies, it’s a comment on their intellects. Hagel is literally a dim bulb; he wasn’t intelligent enough to be Secretary of Defense when Obama appointed him less than two years ago and he’s not smart enough now. His embarrassing performance during his confirmation hearings should have been enough to demonstrate Hagel’s incompetence to anyone who was paying attention. But Hagel is literally a prodigy compared to the Secretary of State. John Kerry is not only intellectually infirm, he’s a buffoon to boot. Of the two, it would have been far better to see Kerry depart than Hagel. After all, Hagel had the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the entire apparatus of the American armed services to back him up. Kerry has no one except the inept Susan Rice, the wet-behind-the-ears Ben Rhodes and whatever vacuous brats Obama insists that Kerry take as deputies to get them off the White House’s hands

    The bottom line is that Hagel was useless but Kerry is dangerous.

    Obama fired the wrong guy,

    • Corlyss

      “The bottom line is that Hagel was useless but Kerry is dangerous.”
      I agree. When I read Hagel’s article in Foreign Affairs in 2004 for what a Republican president’s foreign policy should be, I thought “Dang! This guy is dumber than a box of rocks and has all the gravitas Trudeau used to ascribe to Dan Quayle. Kerry, on the other hand, is astonishing in the extent of his crappy judgment, starting in 1971 when he tried to vault into leadership of the student revolt movement with his aggrandizing testimony before Congress about the conduct of the war. I used to think he was an aberration in Dem politics, only to discover he was in fact the New Normal.

  • Fat_Man

    If Hagel had any stones, he would have quit a while ago.

    • Corlyss

      You have to have brains first and then a set of principles. His vision of America matches Obama’s closely. He’s one of the twits we used to deride as RINOs.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service