‘Chuck, You’re Fired’: Hagel Fails to Adapt to Obama’s Controlling White HousePosted: November 25, 2014
Scott Shackford writes: This morning’s news cycle has temporarily shifted away from fretting about what might happen in Ferguson, Missouri, to the news that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is resigning after serving less than two years.
“One of the top choices to replace Hagel is Michéle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under Hagel’s predecessors. She’s also an administration insider…Rather than proposing a different course for the administration’s foreign policy, she appears to possibly be the person to entrench it for rest of Obama’s term.”
The New York Times got the news, which will apparently be announced formally in a statement this morning:
The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.
Taken as a whole, the original New York Times story paints a pretty damning picture of the White House’s national security policy setting. Mr. Hagel, so long as he was a loyal foot soldier for the President, was okay even if he was on the outside of the White House cool kidz team.
But the moment Hagel spoke up on ISIS, contradicting the White House, it was game over.
In other words, Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.
It’s only made more interesting by the New York Times’s decision to complete delete that bit explaining the motivation for his firing….(read more)
A very important vine from yesterday: https://t.co/hK3W3I21Dj
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 25, 2014
Scott Shackford: …But now “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 he 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.
Well, that’s one way to put it, but later on in the story, reporter Helen Cooper notes Hagel’s struggles to fit in with a White House full of intense Obama campaign insiders and their need to control all messaging:
A respected former senator who struck a friendship with Mr. Obama when they were both critics of the Iraq war from positions on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Hagel has nonetheless had trouble penetrating the tight team of former campaign aides and advisers who form Mr. Obama’s closely knit set of loyalists. Senior administration officials have characterized him as quiet during Cabinet meetings; Mr. Hagel’s defenders said that he waited until he was alone with the president before sharing his views, the better to avoid leaks.
Whatever the case, Mr. Hagel struggled to fit in with Mr. Obama’s close circle and was viewed as never gaining traction in the administration after a bruising confirmation fight among his old Senate colleagues, during which he was criticized for seeming tentative in his responses to sharp questions.
Jerry Tuccille noted how Hagel’s leadership played out early in 2013 in regards to fears of chemical weapon use in Syria. One day in April Hagel publicly stated there was no evidence Syria’s government was using chemical weapons on its own citizens. Then he reversed position the very next day, saying that it likely that they had. The Times notes that Hagel also contradicted the White House in descriptions of ISIS…(read more)
- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Resign (gawker.com)
- BREAKING: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to resign under pressure from Obama (matrixbob.wordpress.com)
- NYT on Hagel Resignation: White House Found Hagel Guilty of Not Portraying Islamic State as The JV Team (dcclothesline.com)
- Breaking: Hagel fired? Update: Yes (hotair.com)
- Report: Private Hagel Memo ‘Sharply Critical’ of Obama’s Syria Strategy (nationalreview.com)
- Defense Secretary Hagel Is Out – Too Stupid For Even Obama (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Time to play Who Wants To Be A Defense Secretary (hotair.com)
- Hagel On ISIS Threat: ‘Beyond Anything We’ve Seen’ (dailycaller.com)