Why Chuck Hagel Should Tell Obama to Go to Hell

The prospective defense secretary will be more influential by speaking out against war and empire.

Leadership is reflected in the will to disappoint at least a few friends with clear decisions in pursuit of principle. It's not about safely laying back and gathering acolytes by splitting every difference.

Barack Obama is a congenitally split personality. His interest in naming Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to his cabinet demonstrates once again that he has no appetite for leadership on the life-and-death decisions presidents make since Congress ceded its war-making powers to the Executive branch after World War II.

As he did in a smarmy, stage-crafted 2009 speech to teenage cadets at West Point, Obama is once again punting on foreign policy. Instead of saying and doing what he believes, our president wants to assemble another sort-of team of rivals. Abusing that popular Doris Kearns Goodwin construct about Lincoln's cabinet, Obama indulges himself in the luxury of leading from behind. It enables him to avoid a decision to withdraw immediately from Afghanistan the young men and women who are sacrificing life and limb for American empire-building that serves no clear moral or national-security purpose.

Our always-conflicted leader has chosen to nominate John Kerry, the ultimate Washington foreign policy consensus expert, to be Secretary of State. That's the same John Kerry who was both for and against the war in Vietnam, and for and against the war in Iraq. The very same presidential candidate who told us in August of 2004 he would have voted for the resolution authorizing Bush-Cheney's elective war in Iraq - even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction. The same John Kerry who told Congress in 1971, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" And who said in March, 2004, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion [supplemental appropriation for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan] before I voted against it." The same John Kerry...well, you can look up additional dithering by the senator from Massachusetts.

President Obama wants to nominate another wounded and decorated Vietnam vet, Chuck Hagel, for Secretary of Defense. Unlike Kerry - and to his credit - Hagel used his Senate seat to speak against his own party's elective wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hagel has conflicts of his own and Washington's conservatives have made it clear that they don't want Hagel anywhere near the Pentagon. He voted for the Iraq War resolution, but on reflection spoke out against that neo-con nightmare. Like many, he supported taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan, but then questioned why we were still there a decade later under Obama's presidency. Hagel is no saint or unerring savant, in our saintless and savantless Federal City.

But there are important differences between Hagel's revisions of his thoughts and those of President Obama and John Kerry. The Nebraskan risked offending his own militaristic Republican base. As a senator - not just a young, ambitious, camera-friendly, anti-Nixon, anti-Vietnam war veteran - Hagel wasn't content to let a last man die for mistakes of a weekend warrior, a dilettante Constitutional law professor, or a born-to-the-manor foreign policy expert.

Recall that Barack Obama was nominated and elected in 2008 as the candidate who was opposed to "dumb wars." But he was an anti-war poseur. Within 10 months of inauguration, Obama reversed course to please the bipartisan industry that demands a permanent state of military conflict and rising defense outlays as a jobs program for AFL-CIO congressional Democrats and as corporate welfare for K Street Capitol Hill Republicans.

And John Kerry? Could there be a purer human distillation of the Washington Rules described by our most eloquent anti-war voice, Andrew Bacevich, in his book of that title? Since he arrived in the Senate in 1985, Kerry has been a primary player leading us down "America's Path to Permanent War," as Bacevich's subtitle puts it. 

Assuming his nomination isn't proactively yanked by the president, here's the question that Hagel first needs to answer: Should he allow himself to be used as a pawn in Barack Obama’s continuing deflection of presidential responsibility?

Tempting as it may be to get inside the tent, Hagel should decline. Given Obama's uninspiring track record, he won't have a major impact on policy. Far more likely, he'll serve as a prop for a president who asserts the right to kill even American citizens without judicial oversight and to send manned and unmanned planes anywhere he chooses.

By refusing to become part of Obama's war machine, Hagel can trumpet an important statement: Bring the troops home now. Not in 2014. Not in 2013. By noon tomorrow. Hagel can demand that not one more young man or woman be the last to die for a horrific mistake.

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  • Jesus H. Christ||

    People with the sort of backbone the author would like to attribute to Hagel don't get important jobs in the administration. Will Hagel stand up to the prez? No, he won't. How do I know this? Because he's been offered a high level position. Obama is not one to allow questioning of his authoritah.

  • Hollywood||

    Like Judd Gregg

  • Agreenweed||

    Speak the gospel Jesus.

  • dantheserene||

    Well if he declines this one it's a pretty safe bet he won't get a second opportunity.

  • Brubaker||

    Perhaps that would be a good thing.

  • waaminn||

    lol, gotta love those bought and paid for politicians.

    www.Anon-et.tk

  • uythsb||

    Merry Christmas,NBA ,NFL 2012

  • Vogon's Poet||

    It would make me incredibly happy if 'anyone' would tell Obama to Go to Hell or Fuck You and the Horse You Road In On....

  • Agreenweed||

    I have an uncle who found himself at a small town Obama meet and greet. Obama was shaking many people's hands and my uncle turned away when Obama offered his hand. Wish I could be so cool as to do that :)

  • artvet2@yahoo.com||

    Hey folks - interesting that international groups and our own CIA publish numbers showing that our President has killed 22 Taliban bosses at a cost of about 600 women and 200 children. All of this via his undeclared drone war in which, apparently, he selects or approves each target. How does the MSM (and the Nobel Committee) ignore this? What does that say about news organizations today, and what does it say about the authenticity of the Nobel Peace Prize?

  • BigT||

    Dude, Obama intended to end the Iraq war faster, and he intended not to intervene in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, and he intended to close Gitmo, and he promised to bring the world together as President. What more do you want? And do you really expect a bunch of stuffy, smug Euro-trash to DO something? Dude!

  • RightNut||

    Hagel disqualifies himself by being a bigot. Not by wanting to end the war in Afghanistan.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Hagel disqualifies himself by being a bigot.

    Durrr anti-Semitism, it's another Holocaust!

  • Jnaneshwar||

    Dear Friends and dear Senator Hagel,

    I have been following politics for twenty years+. C-Span has been most helpful. Typically I enjoy watching the Senate. Informative, educational in many ways. Senator Chuck Hagel always strikes me as a extraordinarily intelligent man of exquisite judgment. Frankly you don't know that he has a given political party because he constantly focuses on that which is altruistic, the highest truth and common good, a rare treat but not completely uncommon, thank God.
    I would work for this man in a minute,based on integrity and philosophy alone.

    If there is a higher intelligence at work, we can only say
    Good luck and congratulations Mr. Secretary.

    Sincerely, Helmut Eckart
    Southern Maryland

  • ||

    You can say that again!!!

  • Jnaneshwar||

    Dear Friends and dear Senator Hagel,

    I have been following politics for twenty years+. C-Span has been most helpful. Typically I enjoy watching the Senate. Informative, educational in many ways. Senator Chuck Hagel always strikes me as a extraordinarily intelligent man of exquisite judgment. Frankly you don't know that he has a given political party because he constantly focuses on that which is altruistic, the highest truth and common good, a rare treat but not completely uncommon, thank God.
    I would work for this man in a minute,based on integrity and philosophy alone.

    If there is a higher intelligence at work, we can only say
    Good luck and congratulations Mr. Secretary.

    Sincerely, Helmut Eckart
    Southern Maryland

  • ER2U||

    Incredible! Please stop spreading the myth that Obama is/was a constitutional law professor. He was a "lecturer" and that's exactly right.

    Thank you!

  • ||

    Why Chuck Hagel Should Tell Obama to Go to Hell?
    Come on girls! Homophobia is stooopid Redherring. Chuck Hagel got larger phallus than LGBT ever queered in their daydreams. Israelis will be digging their own graves if they rally to conspire to assassinate Chuck Hagel’s character as they did to Charles Freeman. Israeli in their own eyes, believe that they are the-chosen-ones, Americans are fools and the Donuthole is Gaza, they can get away with crime. In Arabspringers eyes Israel ain’t a thing but East European Urban Rejects & IRS fugitives who hijacked Judaism as hostage to extort Jews worldwide and took refuge in Auschwitz called Palestine. Henry Kissinger is Jew, said: “give those kibitzers 10 years to die”. George Soros is Jew too established Soros Fund for any Jew who will defect and flee Israel. The game is over boys! Back to Chuck Hagel; Quit nagging about USO like Tel Aviv hookers when ain’t pimped to rich parties. Chuck Hagel ain’t Anti-Semitic enough to crow about. Here’s really something that Israeli loath you to publish. Chuck Hagel is a Godsend magnet to unbury Israel rig and spam world headlines. Chuck Hagel escorted & schooled Obama during 2008 Presidential Campaign to Israel. Chuck Hagel was right when he said to Potus-to-be: “if you get to White House. Israeli Bleached N✡ ggas will need 4 years to recover”. Bleached N✡ ggas are more racist than whites simply because they ain’t wasps. Their White House Raw Model is John Wayne.

  • ||

    Israelis need an idiot like George Bush who hired a Jewish Dumb✡sses as George Tenet for CIA, Michael Chertoff for Homeland Security, Paul Wolfowitz for Dy Assistant Secretary of Defense and many Menajahtwa Muthafukahuh to f✡ck America. Though George Bush the kid and George Bush the father gave Israel nothing compared to Egypt but Israelis are Deranged Megalomaniac Egomaniacs. Kudos.

  • دردشة العراق||

    thank you

  • ||

    Both Hagel and Brennan will keep the fires of fear burning, but they will keep its heat at a level suitable to the wishes of their Commander In Chief. Neither will help create an atmosphere where there is less need for America`s multi- trillion dollar security apparatus, that is not their pay grade. They both will be searching the planet to find those that threaten the tranquility of our peace loving nation. American`s will feel secure in their homes when the two strong men are nominated to guard their gates.

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