November 26, 2014

"In some ways, Hagel was the President’s Republican doppelgänger: skeptical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan..."

"... eager to bring home U.S. troops, and reluctant to get the United States embroiled militarily elsewhere in the Middle East," writes John Cassidy in The New Yorker.
If the primary goal was to complete Obama’s agenda of disengaging from Iraq and Afghanistan, then having Hagel at the Pentagon seemed to make sense. In the past year or so, though, the policy of disengagement has been superseded.... There is no suggestion that Hagel opposed either of these policy changes. Indeed, he was one of the first senior U.S. officials to warn that ISIS represented a serious danger to American interests, which was said to have irked Obama’s aides at the time...

... President Obama appears to have decided that, with the U.S. stepping up its military involvement in various parts of the world, he needed a more hands-on, and on-message, figure at the Pentagon. That’s understandable. But so is the widespread skepticism about the official version of Hagel’s departure, including Republicans’ eagerness to make hay of it. “Secretary Hagel did not believe that the foreign policy is working or is going to work,” Republican congressman Peter King, of New York, told CNN.

That statement reeks of overstatement, which is typical of King. But it underscores that Obama, having just enjoyed his best few weeks as President in a long time, has just refocussed attention on an area, foreign policy, where his enemies sense vulnerability.
"His enemies"? That confused me. I'm pretty sure what Cassidy means by "his enemies" is Republicans. But he was just talking about ISIS, an actual military enemy. That shift in focus was abrupt and telling, especially following the acknowledgment that Hagel had been useful because he was a Republican.

By the way, the picture at the link is just perfect.

71 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Correct link.

That is an excellent picture. (chuckle)

sinz52 said...

When evaluating threats, liberals employ an inverse-square law: The threat diminishes with the square of the distance.

ISIS may be a real threat. But they're thousands of miles away.

The Republicans are a lot closer.

Henry said...

But it underscores that Obama, having just enjoyed his best few weeks as President in a long time

What did I miss?

Bob R said...

Love the picture.

"His enemies" is a Kinsley gaffe.

Henry said...

Oh, right. He signed an executive order. I thought maybe he had borrowed his friend's dad's Ferrari.

wildswan said...

Seems strange that Hagel was fired with no replacement in sight. And fired even though he supported the new policy. So now a battle over confirmation. Maybe it's someone who couldn't get through the new Senate, maybe that's why the haste.

David said...

The picture was also on the front page of the NYT.

Anonymous said...

Q: In what bizzaro world has Obama had a few good weeks recently?

A: Gruberworld

sane_voter said...

It's telling that the liberal press seems to think that a president who signed a possibly unconstitutional executive order that is underwater with the American public, just after an historic drubbing in the midterms, is in the midst of his best few weeks in a long time.

Robert Cook said...

"ISIS may be a real threat. But they're thousands of miles away."

It remains to be proved that ISIS is a real threat any more than Al Qaeda really were. (Their catastrophic and successful strikes on 9/11 were a fluke, pure luck, and it was never reasonable to assume we could expect a successful continuing series of such attacks against us. I was working mere blocks away when the Twin Towers were hit, and afterward, walking uptown, I thought, "Well, that's it; they've shot their wad. They've done the worst they can do to us." We've managed to do much worse to ourselves in the aftermath than Al Qaeda could have achieved.)

The gruesome images of ISIS members beheading hostages instills an understandable feeling of horror and disgust in us, but their true threat to us is not equivalent to the feelings of dread and anger their public relations stunts arouse in us, (and their beheadings are primarily public relations events).

Rather, in politics, here or anywhere, the most feared and hated "enemies" to any politicians are their political opponents. All political decisions and actions are intended to achieve political ends, chief among these, the successful maintenance of one's own position and power.

Strick said...

Correct link.

That is an excellent picture. (chuckle)


True,though I found the 404 Missing in some ways even more appropriate...

Basil said...

He was fired because he refused to release more terrorists from Gitmo.

Ann Althouse said...

Link fixed.

Sorry.

Bob Boyd said...

President caught putting "Kick Me" sign on Sec Def's back.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Krauthammer:

"And when [Hagel] said the truth, he criticized the administration. Obama can tolerate a lot -- cluelessness, incompetence, laziness -- but not criticism; [Hagel]had to go."

Exactly.

Curious George said...

"Robert Cook said...
(Their catastrophic and successful strikes on 9/11 were a fluke, pure luck, "

Yes, a bunch of terrorist just happened to get on four planes, and just decided to hijack them and fly them around. No prior training or thought. And these planes just happened to hit WTC1, WTC2, and the Pentagon. WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT! Pure Luck. Wow. That's like the Jihadist Powerball.

RC, what a fucking moron. 9/11 proved not that it was a fluke, but that it was easy.

Brando said...

Obama has one freakishly long arm!

Paco Wové said...

"It was my birthday and all I got was this crappy Chuck Hagel doll."

AustinRoth said...

Obama has met the enemy, and it is himself.

But his self-love blinds him to that fact.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

Obama's purpose in life has always been planning his war and then executing his war against his most hated enemy...you and me.

chillblaine said...

"...Obama, having just enjoyed his best few weeks as President..."

Did he break eighty?

The Drill SGT said...

At least was spared the ultimate sacrifice.

Obama being Obama, I would have expected him to ask hagel for Dempsey's head on a platter, and getting it, there would be some grumbling in the Pentagon, and Obama could have taken Hagel's head as well.

Hagel's problems were three fold.

1. He's not that smart
2. He doesn't lie well
3. He started trusting Dempsey

The Drill SGT said...

"...Obama, having just enjoyed his best few weeks as President..."

Says a lot about how well Obama's term has gone :(

tim in vermont said...

Why would anybody qualified for the job take it in this administration?

damikesc said...

Obama only really dislikes Jews in Israel and other Americans.

Everybody else --- he can work with them.

JPS said...

Robert Cook:

"I was working mere blocks away when the Twin Towers were hit, and afterward, walking uptown, I thought, 'Well, that's it; they've shot their wad. They've done the worst they can do to us.'"

I mean no offense, but that statement strikes me as either a profound failure of imagination, or a touching victory of hope over analysis. I would agree that they had done the worst they could do at that moment.

Whatever the failures of our response, with which I'm sure you'd be glad to regale me, they got a little busy running and hiding after that to gear up for the next, worse blow they were dreaming of.

The Drill SGT said...

tim in vermont said...
Why would anybody qualified for the job take it in this administration?


The spouse and I were commenting on that last night. She says Ashton Carter wants the job. He's qualified, but why he would want to pay cut and humiliation, I don't know...

Robert Cook said...

Curious George,

If a band of terrorists depends on hijacking commercial airlines to crash into buildings to accomplish their goals, how likely is it that they will be able to hijack enough planes and crash them successfully into enough buildings to be able to destroy or conquer America, or pose any sort of real threat to us of any kind?

It was a fluke, at best (and most likely) a one-time event, at worst a feat that cannot be successfully accomplished more than a couple of times.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook:

'I was working mere blocks away when the Twin Towers were hit, and afterward, walking uptown, I thought, 'Well, that's it; they've shot their wad. They've done the worst they can do to us.'"


"I mean no offense, but that statement strikes me as either a profound failure of imagination, or a touching victory of hope over analysis. I would agree that they had done the worst they could do at that moment.

"Whatever the failures of our response, with which I'm sure you'd be glad to regale me, they got a little busy running and hiding after that to gear up for the next, worse blow they were dreaming of."


And yet, 13 years later, they have failed to do anything more to us, at all, and not because of our disastrous attacks on Afghanistan or, completely unrelatedly, Iraq. Al Qaeda, is, after all, a larger organization now than it was when they struck us on 9/11. Bin Laden was not eliminated as an actor in Al Qaeda for years. Why did he not apply his evil genius to plan and carry out further and more devastating attacks against us?

They don't have the means to do so, primarily; that we are on guard against them now compounds the difficulty they would have in any event in replicating or exceeding their crimes on 9/11.

KK Kraska said...

Knife in the back and twisting it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cook, you seem to stay on message, have you thought about applying?

Curious George said...

"Robert Cook said...
Curious George,

If a band of terrorists depends on hijacking commercial airlines to crash into buildings to accomplish their goals, how likely is it that they will be able to hijack enough planes and crash them successfully into enough buildings to be able to destroy or conquer America, or pose any sort of real threat to us of any kind?

It was a fluke, at best (and most likely) a one-time event, at worst a feat that cannot be successfully accomplished more than a couple of times. "

This is dumber than you first post. The idea that a terrorist group is bound to a single action as a tactic is moronic. AQ first bombed the WTC, then flew airplanes into it.

Defining "success" as "conquering" is beyond stupid. Thinking a couple 9/11 falls short of a real threat...well it's so stupid it's scary.

Bobby said...

Senator Jack Reed (West Point '71) removed himself from consideration in the first hour. Michele Flournoy took herself out of the running last night. That leaves only Dr. Ashton Carter from the initial top three candidates speculated by the NYT, and it's not even clear that he wants the position. Hopefully, the President recognizes that the reluctance is a symptom of the broader problem of his national security and foreign policy process, and he commits to making the changes that would allow a high-quality SECDEF to take the job.

Robert Cook said...

And what else--worse--do you think they can do, Curious George? Especially given they haven't done any more?

Don't mistake your fear and paranoia (or credulousness at Washington propaganda) for reality.

Big Mike said...

If Hagel had the slick smarts of most politicians on the national stage he'd have realized when Obama called offering the job that it was going to end this way.

At any rate, it's going to take decades of presidents who actually care about the United States and the people who live here to fix what Obama has broken in just 6 years.

The Drill SGT said...

Bobby said...
That leaves only Dr. Ashton Carter from the initial top three candidates speculated by the NYT, and it's not even clear that he wants the position.

Hopefully,... he (Obama) commits to making the changes that would allow a high-quality SECDEF to take the job.


a guy smart enough to be qualified, is smart enough to know that Obama would lie about making those changes until he got through this. Only a wholesale purge of the totally unqualified NSC staff AND VJ would convince me :)

exhelodrvr1 said...

Robert Cook,
What do you think would have happened to the US and the world economies if there had been a couple more 9/11 equivalents?

buwaya puti said...

Reality is I can see hundreds of terror opportunities just in San Francisco, just walking around, just waiting for someone to organize them.
That's what it takes, a somewhat talented organizer, some money, some competent muscle, and the communications to bring them together.
That's why it is very dangerous when they have an opportunity to gather and get organized.
And these sorts of atrocities have been attempted far more often than they have succeeded. Consider the Bojinka plot, which is just one that has been publicized. 911 was not a one-off.
If they keep making attempts some will get through.

tim maguire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Wilson said...

With all the turnover in the Secretary of Defense position, I'm reminded of the Professor of Dark Arts at Hogwarts.

Does that make me a bad person? If not, why not?

tim maguire said...

"His enemies"? That confused me. I'm pretty sure what Cassidy means by "his enemies" is Republicans. But he was just talking about ISIS, an actual military enemy.

I'm an amateur history buff, with the Spanish Civil War as a particular focus, with it's vicious struggle between leftists and rightists (under the European understanding of the terms). I'm often struck by how tactics and attitudes in these more extreme struggles also show up in our more civil politics.

Right now I'm reading about Trotsky and the rise of Stalin, and the author, himself a member of the U.S. Communist Party before WWII, makes the claim that Stalin could have stopped Hitler at the beginning, before he consolidated power in Germany, but did not because he was too preoccupied with destroying his political opponents to take a stand against his country's enemies.

Sound familiar?

Curious George said...

"Robert Cook said...
And what else--worse--do you think they can do, Curious George? Especially given they haven't done any more?

Don't mistake your fear and paranoia (or credulousness at Washington propaganda) for reality."

LOl. You assume that it's our "awareness" that's stopped additional attacks. If it wasn't for some bombs that turned out to be duds, we would have had a few airplanes drop in major cities.

What could they do? Nukes. Chemical. Biological.

You truly are a moron.

Big Mike said...

What do you think would have happened to the US and the world economies if there had been a couple more 9/11 equivalents?

@exhelodrvr1, nothing that wouldn't have had Robert Cook and people who think like him dancing in the streets.

Robert Cook said...

"What could they do? Nukes. Chemical. Biological. "

Sure they could, easy as pie!

That's why they're doing it all over the place!

Not.

mccullough said...

Gates and Panetta did a good job. Maybe either of them would be willing to come back.

Drago said...

Robert Cook: "Don't mistake your fear and paranoia (or credulousness at Washington propaganda) for reality"

LOL

Says the 9-11 and October Surprise Truther!!

Robert Cook=zero self-awareness.

And even less credibility.

Drago said...

Robert Cook: "Sure they could, easy as pie!"

Who said it would be "easy"?

Define "easy" in the context of asymmetric warfare.

Don't worry, we all know there won't be a response heading our way from you.

Drago said...

Unfortunately for us, our adversaries are not as limited intellectually or creatively as one Robert Cook and his ilk.

David-2 said...

That picture is just waiting to have a bus photoshopped into it.

Rocketeer said...

And yet, 13 years later, they have failed to do anything more to us, at all, and not because of our disastrous attacks on Afghanistan or, completely unrelatedly, Iraq.

I reject your casual dismissal of the positive impacts both Afghanistan and Iraq had in degrading Al Qaeda's - and other terrorist organizations' - abilities up until...well, up until Obama turned tail and withdrew from any muscular engagement in that part of the world as a matter of fact.

tim maguire said...

Robert Cook said...I was working mere blocks away when the Twin Towers were hit, and afterward, walking uptown, I thought, "Well, that's it; they've shot their wad. They've done the worst they can do to us."

You have no evidence whatsoever to support that claim. Seriously, you were walking around uptight on 9/10 because they hand't brought the towers down yet, but on 9/11 you could finally relax?

Seriously?

Curious George said...

"Robert Cook said...
"What could they do? Nukes. Chemical. Biological. "

Sure they could, easy as pie!

That's why they're doing it all over the place!"

Robert Cook on 9/10/2001: "Hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings?

Sure they could, easy as pie!

That's why they're doing it all over the place!"

You are truly a fucking moron.

Ann Althouse said...

"that's it; they've shot their wad"

This is the second comment I've read in the last hour, here on this blog, where somebody said "shot... wad."

Is this some pre-Thanksgiving state of mind?

traditionalguy said...

Males using "shot the wad" obviously refer to our coming Thursday morning 3:30AM job of stuffing the turkey hole. Those suckers can hold several apples. And then you need baker's twine to close it up real tight since it gets so hot in there.

SteveR said...

Did he break eighty?

On the front nine w two mulligans

FullMoon said...

"Robert Cook said...
(Their catastrophic and successful strikes on 9/11 were a fluke, pure luck, "


Say, anybody here read about bombers at high school rallys, train stations vollyball games?

What about some rag tag guys renting a store in upscale shopping mall so they could bring in weapons for a scheduled slaughter?

Movie theaters blown up?

Cheap drones available to any nut with a thousand bucks?


30 crazies with weapons and a plan could do a lot of damage in a coordinated attack at 30 different locations.

Look around while you are out shopping. It would be so simple, wouldn't it?

Robert Cook said...

"Seriously, you were walking around uptight on 9/10 because they hand't brought the towers down yet, but on 9/11 you could finally relax?"

Wha--?!

On 9/10/01 I had no idea the next day would see the twin towers attacked, so I certainly couldn't have been "uptight" about it. However, it swiftly struck me that if their only means of achieving what they did was to hijack airplanes, they wouldn't have much chance to repeat their actions.

C'mon...are you or were you really afraid Al Qaeda was going to come and do much more harm here? Really?

Robert Cook said...

Curious George,

Resorting to juvenile name-calling hardly constitutes an argument, much less a compelling one.

Obviously, that's all you've got to offer.

Robert Cook said...

"I reject your casual dismissal of the positive impacts both Afghanistan and Iraq had in degrading Al Qaeda's - and other terrorist organizations' - abilities...."

To the contrary, why would you think our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have had any positive impact in degrading terrorist organizations abilities...or numbers? Al Qaeda quickly fled Afghanistan, so we have, from the start, been fighting people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and are defending themselves against (another) foreign invader, and Iraq, of course, had nothing to do with 9/11 and so had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

Our military forays into the middle east have, if anything, radicalized and driven more people into extremist groups simply because they fear and hate us for invading their lands and killing them. The extremist groups in the middle east are larger now than they were pre-9/11, significantly because of our completely wrong response to 9/11.

Rusty said...

Whatever you do, always assume the gun is unloaded.

Try again morally bankrupt bob.

ken in tx said...

Cook's reasoning that AQ and Isis are not real threats to the US, is like those environmentalists who say that mountain lions are not a real threat to humans. What they mean is that they can't kill enough of us to put a dent in our population. If either one of them kills someone in your family, that's just a statistic.

buwaya said...

Not 30, a dozen or less could shut down a US city for a day and a night, like that dozen did to Bombay. With nothing but US-legal firearms, it would be like 100X school shootings, running for many hours.

And in the US they would not have to smuggle themselves into the country.

That is a very crude scenario, I can think of much worse things that a dozen committed fanatics could do.

The requirement here is reliable communications in order to coordinate the plot, and funding. Communications with potential recruits in the west are impeded by the risk of entrapment operations that the US and other countries have been running constantly since 911. Recruitment and coordination from abroad are impeded by travel restrictions and no fly lists. Training of units of such terrorists abroad has been restricted by the need to operate underground. This creates a lack of implicit trust. This is worse for persons that could be effective in operating in a first world environment.

Brando said...

Obama might as well leave the post unfilled. Clearly he's not going to listen to whoever is Sec of Defense anyway. He's got his inner circle.

Jason said...

Cookie:

Iraq, of course, had nothing to do with 9/11 and so had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.


Huh?

You're an idiot with a Romper Room understanding of both Iraq and terrorism, fool.

Chef Mojo said...

Has Carl Levin said no?

I have a sneaking suspicion that that little skunk of a SECNAV Mabus is clawing himself into position.

Achilles said...

Robert Cook said...

" To the contrary, why would you think our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have had any positive impact in degrading terrorist organizations abilities...or numbers?"

Al Quaeda came to Iraq. We wiped them out. To the extent that most of JSOC moved to Afghanistan to take out the Taliban. Iraq was peaceful and safe relative to Chicago. ISIS/AlQaeda rebuilt themselves in Syria and invaded after they saw the US pull out at Obama's order. The current chaos and violence is the result of people like you.


"Al Qaeda quickly fled Afghanistan, so we have, from the start, been fighting people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and are defending themselves against (another) foreign invader, and Iraq, of course, had nothing to do with 9/11 and so had nothing to do with fighting terrorism."

You are a mendacious piece of shit.

"Our military forays into the middle east have, if anything, radicalized and driven more people into extremist groups simply because they fear and hate us for invading their lands and killing them."

I forgot. It is all our fault. Maybe we should have sent you over there to tell them how nice we are instead. Maybe we should try that now. I am sure they will like your message and treat you fairly. You might get to star in their next video!


"The extremist groups in the middle east are larger now than they were pre-9/11, significantly because of our completely wrong response to 9/11."

You are wrong. These groups larger after Obama pulled troops out of Iraq. You try to blame the failures of the unicorn enthusiasts on the people who actually fought Al Qaeda. When we were in control Al Qaeda was running and defeated. 6 years of Obama has done wonders for their numbers.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If you pay attention, there are plenty of hints given that there have been a lot of plots defeated that have not been publicized.

RecChief said...

Hagel was Democrats' cover for fucking up the military you mean.

khesanh0802 said...

"with the U.S. stepping up its military involvement in various parts of the world, he needed a more hands-on, and on-message, figure at the Pentagon." What the hell has Hagel been doing; golfing with the boss?

Have always been lukewarm about Hagel, but am convinced that Obama will have not be able to find anyone better qualified from the group that he will be willing to consider. Unless the Dems can rush someone through the Senate in the next two/three weeks Obama is going to be forced to submit a better candidate than he is relieving.

Robert Cook said...

"I forgot. It is all our fault."

We bear some responsibility, yes. Chalmers Johnson even published a book called BLOWBACK before 9/11, in which he details the behavior of the USA as an empire around the world which would, inevitably, bring about "blowback."

The perpetrators of 9/11 are guilty of and responsible for their crimes, but their desire to commit such a strike against the USA can be seen as "blowback" from such of our international behavior as Johnson discussed.

As for the aftermath of 9/11, yes, our wrong and wrong-headed, crude "kill 'em all" response has made things worse than they had to be, like stamping on an ant's hive or striking a hornet's nest with a stick.

We could have found ways post-9/11 to pursue bin Laden and Al Qaeda that would not have been so disastrous, but we have base and stupid men in power today, pursuing their own (undisclosed) agenda, and so we responded in the worst way possible.

As for your belief that we had the terrorists essentially defeated, dream on, McDuff! You say they grew larger only because Obama withdrew from Iraq--a withdrawal negotiated by Bush, and which Obama wished to renegotiate to allow us to stay. (We wouldn't agree to the Iraqis requirement that US soldiers who broke the law while in country be held accountable under Iraqi law, so the Iraqis refused to allow us to stay longer. They're, ahem, a "sovereign" state, aren't they? We fought there to "free them," didn't we? I mean, that's the lie we always tell. So, if the Iraqis said no, we had to leave. In short, we were shown the door.) If the terror groups got larger only because we withdrew from Iraq, a place that was never a home to Islamist terror groups before we destroyed the country, then you're saying we were only "containing them," meaning, we must stay there forever to keep them from growing larger.

Which means we never defeated them or had them on the run, as you lie to yourself was the case, but, at best, had a stalemate.

But, that's just discussing the matter on your terms. The reality is that in any region that is subject to invasion and attack by foreign armies, the people will become angered and will rise up to fight back. If foreign armies invaded our country or started sending drone bombers over our towns and cities, our people would find ways to fight back; why would you assume the people we are bombing and shooting and keeping in virtual lock-down in their own lands would not fight back? Why would you think we would ever be able to "win" a war against them? We lost in Viet Nam, as was inevitable, and we have already lost in the middle east, though we keep compounding the atrocities and utter waste of our nation's resources by continuing as if we have a coherent objective and a chance of achieving it.

We have neither.