KRAUTHAMMER ON HAGEL – AT 9:01 A.M. ET: With the Hagel charm offensive underway on Capitol Hill, the nominee for defense secretary insisting that virtually all his views have been "misinterpreted" for, oh, about a decade, Charles Krauthammer gets right to the point about "the meaning of Hagel." From WaPo:
The puzzle of the Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary is that you normally choose someone of the other party for your Cabinet to indicate a move to the center, but, as The Post’s editorial board pointed out, Hagel’s foreign policy views are to the left of Barack Obama’s, let alone the GOP’s. Indeed, they are at the fringe of the entire Senate.
So what’s going on? Message-sending. Obama won reelection. He no longer has to trim, to appear more moderate than his true instincts. He has the “flexibility” to be authentically Obama.
Hence the Hagel choice: Under the guise of centrist bipartisanship, it allows the president to leave the constrained first-term Obama behind and follow his natural Hagel-like foreign policy inclinations.
Sadly, I think Charles is right. Hagel will probably be confirmed, and then the trouble begins. It will begin by dangerous drawdowns in our forces, drawdowns that will make future wars more likely, not less likely. The great lesson of the 20th century is that weakness and indecision invite wars, that the best way to achieve peace is to make clear to a potential aggressor that he will face overwhelming, even irrational force if he attacks.
Current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in August 2011 that the scheduled automatic $600 billion defense cuts (”sequestration”) would result in “hollowing out the force,” which would be “devastating.” And he strongly hinted that he might resign rather than enact them.
Asked about Panetta’s remarks, Hagel called the Pentagon “bloated” and needing “to be pared down.” Just the man you’d want to carry out a U.S. disarmament that will shrink America to what Obama thinks is its proper size on the world stage; i.e., smaller.
And, on foreign policy:
Hagel himself doesn’t matter. He won’t make foreign policy. Obama will run it out of the White House even more tightly than he did in the first term. Hagel’s importance is the message his nomination sends about where Obama wants to go. The lessons are being duly drawn. Iran’s official media have already cheered the choice of what they call this “anti-Israel” nominee. And they fully understand what his nomination signals regarding administration resolve about stopping them from going nuclear.
The rest of the world can see coming the Pentagon downsizing — and the inevitable, commensurate decline of U.S. power. Pacific Rim countries will have to rethink reliance on the counterbalance of the U.S. Navy and consider acquiescence to Chinese regional hegemony. Arab countries will understand that the current rapid decline of post-Kissinger U.S. dominance in the region is not cyclical but intended to become permanent.
Hagel is a man of no independent stature. He’s no George Marshall or Henry Kissinger. A fringe senator who left no trace behind, Hagel matters only because of what his nomination says about Obama.
COMMENT: That nails it. Obama is not a liberal. He is a leftist. All proof of that has been systematically ignored by the mainstream media. If you dare ask about the people Obama hung out with regularly around the University of Chicago, you're accused of "guilt by association." If you ask about his upbringing, you're a "McCarthyite." That shuts down the conversation.
January 11, 2012