Monday, November 24, 2014

"The Emperor Is Naked" - Hagel Fired As SecDef

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has been fired.His tenure was less than two years.

His departure comes after a long period of disagreement with President Obama over what Hagel saw as disastrous budget and manpower cuts by the White House that affected American military capabilities, disagreements of the president's strategies in Afghanistan and in both the nature and the methods used to fight Islamic State.

Basically, he was fired for telling the Emperor that he was naked. And as a convenient scapegoat for the Administration's failures.

According to one of my sources, what clinched it was his disagreement with the president about the need for ground forces in Iraq to fight Islamic State. His statement about 'not wanting to put boots on the ground where they are needed' contradicted the president directly and made him a target for Obama's consigliere Valerie Jarrett, who reportedly went ballistic, pushed hard for Hagel's firing, saying that 'these people in the Pentagon needs to remember who they work for.'

Hagel's parting shot was an interview he did with PBS's Charlie Rose last week in an interview Rose conducted at the Pentagon:

Rose asked Hagel to elaborate on comments that he made in a speech at the Reagan Library last weekend. In that speech, Hagel said that America’s military capability, while still the best in the world, is being threatened.

Hagel re-iterated that to Rose, but also left viewers to wonder about the direction that President Obama is taking the military.

“I am worried about it, I am concerned about it, Chairman Dempsey is, the chiefs are, every leader of this institution,” Hagel said, including Pentagon leadership but leaving both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s names out of his list of officials who are worried about the U.S. military’s declining capability. Hagel said that the Congress and the American people need to know what while the U.S. military remains the strongest, best trained and most motivated in the world, its lead is being threatened because of policies being implemented now.

Hagel went on to note that a good leader prepares their institution for future success, saying that “the main responsibility of any leader is to prepare your institution for the future. If you don’t do that, you’ve failed. I don’t care how good you are, how smart you are, any part of your job. If you don’t prepare your institution, you’ve failed.”

In the past couple of years, Hagel has warned that defense budget cuts implemented under President Obama were hurting readiness and capability. The “how smart you are” line may be a veiled shot at President Obama, who basks in a media image that he is a cerebral, professorial president.

Another mark against Hagel was that he reportedly underwent something of a change of views regarding Israel during his tenure as Secretary of Defense, especially during the Gaza War that did not jibe with the president. He came to see Israel as a more important ally than he had previously indicated, and facilitated arms shipments to Israel during the last Gaza War.

Once President Obama realized that the Pentagon was okaying arms shipments in a way that that would have been normal under any other administration but that he objected to, he stopped shipments of armaments like Hellfire missiles to Israel that the Israelis had already paid for in the middle of the Gaza War and held them up for 'State Department review.' This had never been done previously to Israel in a war situation. The Israelis did not receive the shipments until after the war was over, and Hagel reportedly caught a great deal of flak over it.

Chuck Hagel will continue to serve as Secretary of Defense until a new one is nominated and confirmed.

I did not support Chuck Hagel when he was nominated as SecDef, especially after his sub par confirmation hearing. However, sometimes people rise above their limitations when put in a position of responsibility, just as they sometimes fail to do so. Chuck Hagel had the ability to see that something was horribly wrong with the way President Obama was handling matters of defense and national security, and the courage to say so to the president.

There are some presidents who have had the ability to absorb contradictory views and use them to make their determinations, even modify their perceptions. Unfortunately, the president Chuck Hagel served is not one of them. Instead, he's one whom no one can tell anything to that contradicts his own, set in stone ideas. He perceives anyone who deviates from that in any way as disloyal, and for that sin, Chuck Hagel had to go.

Res ipsa loquiter.


B.Poster said...

"...while the US military remains the strongest, best trained, and most motivated in the world..." All three of these are questionable assumptions by Mr. Hagel at best. As for motivation/morale, perhaps he needs to interact more with the actual fighting men and women on the ground. If he did, I think he'd retract that part of the statement.

As far as the strongest force, this may be true in terms of qualitative capabilities, however, not likely to be true in terms of quantity with enemies such as Russia, China, Iran, and in a conflict with any of these we'd be likely fighting all of the BRICS and Western Europe would at best show hostile neglect to our position. Additionally Russia holds huge edges over the US in tactical nuclear weapons, human inelegance, and cyber warfare capabilities. The same dynamic applies to China with the exception of nuclear weapons capabilities.

In the event of warfare with Russia, China, or both of them we'd likely find these high tech weapons blind, deaf, dumb, and useless due to cyber attacks. Furthermore the US military has been largely reconfigured to fight Islamic terrorists and the types of capabilities needed to confront adversaries like Russia and China seems to have been largely neglected. In contrast, the militaries of adversaries like Russia and China are configured with the idea of America as the main enemy. Mr. Hagel should think carefully before making such ridiculous statements.

While the cuts in military expenses are absolutely necessary given our current budget situation, the way it is being gone about seems completely wrong. For example, it seems unwise to cut tried and true systems and replace them with untried systems that may not work. The F-35 and cuts to the Tomahawk missiles are examples of this in action.

Furthermore a scale back in global responsibilities is needed. Preferably this should be done in an orderly fashion but it has to be done. These forces need to be redeployed to positions that make sense for our national defense. "Boots on the ground" in Iraq is a terrible idea. We barely escaped with a face saving defeat via the "surge" last time and we'd be foolish enough to go back in!!

B.Poster said...

I too have found the modifications of the approach Mr. Hagel very interesting. When one is a Senator, Representative, or works within the US government bureaucracy anti-Israel sentiments and actions cost very little and in fact generally lead to career advancements. Pro-Israel stances that go beyond cute speeches and support for highly conditional aid that has negative utility for both countries can and usually does prove very costly to career advancement.

With that said when one holds the Sec of Defense position, the decisions they make have a very large impact on the survival of 300+ million Americans. When faced with things of this magnitude, most reasonable people will abandon ideology very quickly. In order to maximize the chances of the survival of America and its 300+ million citizens, one is going to have to work closely with Israel in a supportive role. This likely accounts for much of the change in his position.

As for POTUS, he and his closest supporters do not seem like reasonable people. As such, I'd expect him to cling to his ideology until it literally kills him and those closest and most dear to him. As for the rest of us, I see no reason why we should all have to go down with him. As for Mr. Hagel, he seems to have been bright enough to recognize he needed to change course.