For me, it was surprising news to start off the Thanksgiving week – U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel resigned. Of course it wasn’t just that simple as according to a White House administration official, “make no mistake, Secretary Hagel was fired,” he told Fox News.”
As reported by Fox News, “The president felt he had to fire someone. He fired the only Republican in his cabinet. Who is that going to piss off that he cares about?” And in a swipe at the resume of Hagel, who served as U.S. Army sergeant in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts, the official added, “This is why you don’t send a sergeant to do a secretary’s job.”
Finally, some actual transparency!
Fox News says, “ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had become “very, very frustrated” in the post before President Obama sought his resignation, according to a key lawmaker, who blasted the White House for a whispering campaign that accompanied the Pentagon boss’ abrupt ouster Monday morning. The same official discounted Pentagon claims it was a mutual decision claiming President Obama has lost confidence in Hagel and that the White House had been planning to announce his exit for weeks.”
So in the aftermath of the 2014 midterm election debacle, someone did indeed get fired in the Obama administration. It was obvious Hagel was the most expendable person in the Obama administration — at least as assessed by Valerie Jarrett.
Hagel was brought on board as a “sign of bipartisanship” as a Republican who could provide cover for President Obama and the budget cuts and reduction of military capability the administration wanted to impose — as well as their social egalitarian agenda.
You might have forgotten that after Hagel announced the cuts to the U.S. Army and cancellation of the A-10 Warthog close air support platform, within a week Russian-backed separatists began their occupation of Crimea. Hagel’s initial appearance during his confirmation hearing was quite telling of his ability to grasp strategic level military policies — it was painful to watch.
But when it comes to Defense Secretaries, clearly the Obama administration didn’t want a strong SecDef – a la Gates or Panetta.
Regardless of how seemingly out-of-touch Hagel may have appeared, he shouldn’t be the “fall guy” for the horrific strategic national security situation in which America finds itself. As a matter of fact, if anyone should have resigned, National Security Advisor Susan Rice was the perfect candidate — but of course, she’s within the Obama inner circle.
But when SecDef Hagel decided no to follow the script and White House talking points on the subject of ISIS, it became obvious he’d run his course — and of course a New York Times article condemning him sealed his fate. It seems rather odd that Hagel is being criticized for being distant and unresponsive during NSC meetings — especially when President Obama only has a 41 percent attendance rate for his own intelligence briefings.
So does Hagel’s resignation symbolize a change in policy direction? That would depend on who gets the nod as the replacement — my recommendation would be former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the Honorable Michele Flournoy. The question is whether or not she’d just sit back and allow the Defense Department to be run from the White House.
It is imperative that we have someone who can repair the damaged relationship between the civilian leadership and the uniformed leaders of the military. As well, America also needs someone who — based on a sound understanding of strategic defense policy — can reverse the cycle of the ill-conceived withdrawal from Iraq and not allow the same to happen in Afghanistan. Those decisions were not made by Hagel but rather the Commander-in-Chief himself — and I don’t think he’ll be resigning anytime soon.
Should we consider it odd that it was the president who referred to ISIS as the “jayvee” team while Hagel, during a press conference with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, characterized the Islamic State as the greatest threat in the Middle East? Funny — and who was forced to resign?
So the White House staged event was just that — more words with no heart behind it, just business as usual in the Obama administration.