Chuck Hagel is out at the Department of Defense, and one administration official explained that it was because “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus” – apparently one that doesn’t shed such a bright light upon the smoking ruin that is Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
Hagel may have sealed his fate last week, when Charlie Rose asked him in an interview about the decline of the U.S. military. “I am worried about it,” Hagel responded, “I am concerned about it, Chairman Dempsey is, the chiefs are, every leader of this institution” – as Bryan Preston of PJ Media has noted, he perhaps pointedly left Obama and Joe Biden off this list of concerned officials.
Hagel also said: “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.”
Did Obama take that as a reference to his steep defense cuts at a time when the world is on fire? Or did he object to Hagel’s surprisingly cordial relations with Israeli officials?
Whatever the truth may be, Hagel is out, and Obama’s gaggle of sycophants is abuzz with speculation about who the Great Leader might choose for a big promotion.
“Hagel Resigns Under Pressure as Global Crises Test Pentagon,” by Helene Cooper, New York Times, November 24, 2014:
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation under pressure on Monday, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team to respond to an onslaught of global crises.
In announcing Mr. Hagel’s resignation from the State Dining Room on Monday, the president, flanked by Mr. Hagel and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., called Mr. Hagel critical to ushering the military “through a significant period of transition” and lauded “a young Army sergeant from Vietnam who rose to serve as America’s 24th secretary of defense.”
Mr. Obama called Mr. Hagel “no ordinary secretary of defense,” adding that he had “been in the dirt” of combat like no other defense chief. He said that Mr. Hagel would remain in the job until his successor is confirmed by the Senate.
Administration officials said that Mr. Obama made the decision to remove Mr. Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, last Friday after a series of meetings between the two men over the past two weeks.
President Obama called Chuck Hagel “no ordinary secretary of defense” during a news conference at which Mr. Hagel announced his resignation.
The officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel, who often struggled to articulate a clear viewpoint and was widely viewed as a passive defense secretary, was brought in to employ.
Mr. Hagel, a combat veteran who was skeptical about the Iraq war, came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestrations.
Now, however, the American military is back on a war footing, although it is a modified one. Some 3,000 American troops are being deployed in Iraq to help the Iraqi military fight the Sunni militants of the Islamic State, even as the administration struggles to come up with, and articulate, a coherent strategy to defeat the group in both Iraq and Syria.
“The next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that the defense secretary initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.
But 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….