The PJ Tatler

Hagel's Defense Department: Nightmare or Catastrophe?

Chuck Hagel will be confirmed.  Let’s put that to rest right now.  However, given his confirmation, what will the Defense Department look like under Hagel’s leadership.  Additionally, how will he execute Obama’s foreign policy during his second term?  His disastrous confirmation hearing, which Slate’s Dave Weigel aptly called a Fluster Chuck, shocked his former colleagues in the Senate.  I’m sure it made many commentators to wonder why President Obama didn’t pick the undeniably qualified Michele Flournoy, who served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2009-2012.

Nevertheless, we’re saddled with Hagel, and I’m sure the supporters of Israel are more on edge now that his confirmation is inevitable.  Where do we go from here? National Review’s Daniel Foster wrote on February 19 that:

Maybe the best way to illustrate what the far left, far right, and dead center are missing about Hagel is with the following dilemma: Hagel’s foreign-policy views are clearly to the left of the president’s rhetoric for the last couple of years. That’s not even debatable. In practice, that will mean one of two things. Either the views expressed in Obama’s rhetoric of the last couple of years will continue to be the policy of the United States, in which case Hagel will be frustrated and constrained as defense secretary, and relegated to the role of mere bureaucrat-in-chief of the Pentagon. That, needless to say, does not appear to be his strong suit. The other possibility is that a second-term Obama will pursue a foreign policy closer to the one Hagel has avowed in speeches and writings over the last several years: a considerably smaller military, a net reduction in global power projection, especially in the most dangerous parts of the world, generous détente with Iran, skeptical neutrality or even hostility toward Israel, and so on. In that case, Hagel will be free to foolishly pursue his boss’s foolish vision.

Hagel can thus incompetently execute a decent strategy or competently execute an indecent one. So flip a coin. Heads they win, tails we lose.

Yeah, that’s not reassuring at all.  Then again, when has this administration been reassuring at solving anything in the past four years?