November 24, 2014

Why did Obama get rid of Chuck Hagel?

From the NYT report of the resignation of the Secretary of Defense:
[Senior administration] 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....

He raised the ire of the White House in August... directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”
A top comment at the NYT: "This is just another example of silencing your critics. Chuck Hagel called 'em as he saw 'em."

84 comments:

tim in vermont said...

The same reason he "fired" the head of GM for allowing that the govt takeover of the company had hurt sales. How he gets to fire somebody at the head of a private company is something you people who don't believe you are fascists who supported this guy can answer.

PB said...

Hagel, as compliant as he has been to Obama's desires in crippling the military, he has some standards and even was unwilling to lower them completely.

The Godfather said...

If Chuck Hagel is Obama's idea of a warhawk, that tells us a lot more about Obama than about Hagel.

The Drill SGT said...

Chuck was not the brightest bulb in either the Senate, nor cabinet, but he was occasionally correct, as he was on ISIL.

Hagel's big mistake?

"threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ."

He wasn't smart enough to understand that regardless of what Obama speechifies, he had no desire or plan to Beat ISIL. Just kicking the can down the street to the next POTUS. Actually fighting a war would tarnish Teh Won's reputation.

Teh Won, would like to dump Dempsey for the same reason, but has less public justification...


Original Mike said...

It took Obama 21 months to realize what everybody else knew from the start. The man is not qualified.

The Crack Emcee said...

ISIS has no navy, no air force, no Army or Marines, no CIA, no mercenaries, and no financial backing, but - armed with video cameras, machetes, and a bunch of weapons we sent over there - I'm supposed to be shaking in my boots like whites facing ebola from Africa.

Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people than ISIS - last week - but I'm told we're cool with that.

Forget your fears, and get your story straight, white people:

It's the only way anyone's going to listen to you again,...

surfed said...

They fired the smartest guy on the team... Too funny.

Anonymous said...

Sudan Rice has hung around and proven useful to 'the cause.' Maybe Hagel didn't bend enough with the arc of history.

Birkel said...

Obama has retired as many senior officers and senior NCOs as he can. Hagel no longer provides the necessary cover to reduce the military's readiness under Obama's leadership. Hagel was beginning to say things that could accurately be used to criticize the president.

Therefore, Hagel had to go.

khesanh0802 said...

To me Hagel has been such a non-entity that I have trouble seeing how this changes much.

What I would really like to see is the members of the Joint Chiefs get their backs up and resign en masse in disagreement with Obama's military policies. The problem with that is that even worse toadies would take their places.

There is so little understanding of military affairs in the Obama administration that I can't even imagine who will be next. Will we have the nomination hearings in a Republican senate? That should be very interesting.

Brando said...

The fact that John Kerry is still in his job indicates that Hagel wasn't fired for incompetence.

He must have shown disloyalty at some point.

pm317 said...

I can't believe Obama and his sidekick Jarret made Haaagel look good.

LYNNDH said...

General Dempsey is next. WH only wants "Yes Men/Women". Hagel was straying a bit so under the Greyhound he goes. Will BO appointment a woman to the post? Hearing will be under a Republican Congress. Should be interesting.

Joe Schmoe said...

Remember pre-2008 when the media was apoplectic about the supposed ideological purity of the Bush White House & Cabinet? Where's the diversity, they cried.

Good times, good times.

exhelodrvr1 said...

He had to go. He pointed out that the Emperor has no clothes. Considering that it was Chuck Hagel, it may have been just a lucky shot, but Obama couldn't risk it.

Anonymous said...

Hagel's was opposed by a large number of Republicans who thought he wasn't up to the job. Nevertheless, Obama needed Hagel because: (1) Hagel provided bi-partisan cover for Obama's gutting of the military and dangerous global defense strategy; and (2) he now provides Obama with a way to scapegoat a Republican the disasterous results of the President's policies.

Ann Althouse said...

(A note on deletion: Speak to the issues raised. Don't take potshots at other commenters. Respond to people if you want, but just saying you don't like somebody else is worthless. Write things that are worth reading!)

garage mahal said...

Distraction from Gruber?

tim in vermont said...

Ya know, Crack does sound a lot like MLK

chillblaine said...

Obama believes that he is a better SecDef than anyone he could hire.

Dan Hossley said...

There have been an unusual number of stories critical of Team Obama's micromanaging of the so-called war with the Islamic State emanating from the Pentagon. The stories make it difficult for Team Obama to blame the Pentagon, the CIA or the State Department for their failure. Comparisons to LBJ are never good.

Tank said...


Jonah Goldberg ✔ @JonahNRO

.@NRO @jimgeraghty Bizarrely WH says Hagel not up to job. His job was to be WH doormat and he was brilliant at it.

Nonapod said...

With regards to ISIS I've certainly noticed conflicting messaging between the Whitehouse and Hagel. The Whitehouse has tended to downplay the danger ISIS poses while Hagel has said things like ISIS is "beyond anything we've seen".

I suspect Obama is looking for more of a straight yes man who won't go off message and just does what he's told without criticism. This seems to be a reoccurring thing with Obama.

Henry said...

I don't remember anyone being particularly in favor of Chuck Hagel's appointment.

I'm highly critical of the President's expansion of the Afghanistan war, even with the support of Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, but there's not much question that replacing Gates with Hagel was a big step down in capability.

Original Mike has it right.

MayBee said...

Poor Hagel. A full life in the Congress and Senate, and now booted to the curb in a final humiliation. At least they didn't intercept his private emails (that we know of) and expose his private affairs.

Does Obama want to have to choose a more Hawkish SoD with the Republican Congress "pushing" his hand?

Birkel said...

Hagel at the press conference announcing his ouster looks like the wife of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey. He's asked to be on stage to provide cover for the principle: Obama. Obama pretends to say nice words about Hagel and Hagel gets to say a bunch of words that weren't written by him about the principle.

Hagel will not be missed. His work in D.C. will be handsomely rewarded. Hagel's an insider willing to sell his soul to the highest bidder.

mccullough said...

Hagel correcting Obama on the junior varsity was insubordinate. Obama should have fired Hagel back then.

pm317 said...

It is an honor to get fired from this WH. It says they did something right.

Ann Althouse said...

"Hagel correcting Obama on the junior varsity was insubordinate. Obama should have fired Hagel back then."

I guess he had to let a bit of time pass so it wouldn't be so obvious.

Tank said...

Hagel is like Gruber, a bit of truth slipped out making the Zero look bad.

Trashhauler said...

Secretary Hagel was probably fired for pressing too hard on getting feet on the ground against ISIS.

We can bomb their fixed targets and when they concentrate, but dispersal eliminates much of the effectiveness of bombing alone. Airpower in support of ground operations is also needed. And ground operations aren't going to happen without US ground involvement.

traditionalguy said...

Hagel learned on the job from the Military men who are inevitably realists. They don't get a second chance in wars where the one coming in first place is the only survivor.

But the Arrogant Liar Obama has to lie. He needs accomplices who let liar's unrealties program us for defeat. Hagel never learned how the Obama plan is done.

lgv said...

He made a Kinsley "gaffe" about ISIS. It's been downhill since then.

"...ISIS has no navy, no air force, no Army or Marines, no CIA, no mercenaries, and no financial backing..."

All irrelevant and incorrect. They have financial backing and they have intelligence, if not a CIA. But all that matters is the level of threat they pose. It is not a matter of fear that makes us act. It is not the strength of an army that make us act. It is the threat they pose. Now, does the threat warrant our actions? This is worthy of debate.

Hagel was idiot. He was no longer a useful idiot after making the mistake of not towing the admin line. I recommend Jay Carney. Since Sec Def has no real policy input, Carney's lack of knowledge or experience is irrelevant. All that matters is that he spews the admin policy and when questioned, talks in circles until the questions are over, never having justified or contradicted the WH position.

Policy is top down in this administration. The only one BO listened to was Hillary on Benghazi and that didn't turn out well. Oh, and he listened to the generals on Afghanistan. He's not listening any more.

Lydia said...

Very simple really -- Obama's foreign policy is a complete mess, and he needed a fall guy. Chuck was the most obvious, and easiest, choice.

Humperdink said...

Hagel joins Ray LaHood as two of the dumbest cabinet secretaries I have ever witnessed speak into a microphone.

Both clean, but not articulate. Although Hagel did look hungover on most occasions.

Drago said...

lgv: "Hagel was idiot. He was no longer a useful idiot after making the mistake of not towing the admin line."

This.

Hagel was brought aboard to put a "republican" patina on obama's dream policy of shrinking the US military to the bare bones.

With the Republicans in charge in the both houses of congress obambi is just about done in that area.

If I were obama I would just appoint black females for every executive post so they could all scream #WarOnWomen #Racism for every policy dispute between republicans and Putin's boyfriend in the White House.

Drago said...

Generalissimo Crack: "...ISIS has no navy, no air force, no Army or Marines, no CIA, no mercenaries, and no financial backing..."

LOL

It's adorable when crack brings his carnival barking act over to Foreign Policy/military matters.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that Crack gave a field promotion to Field Marshall for Harriett Tubman.

Tubman was asked to serve as a guide and scout for several regimental/brigade sized raids by union forces in South Carolina.

Crack represented this by saying "The Union" asked Tubman to "lead the Army".

You can't make this stuff up.

Lydia said...

A reminder: Bush fired Rumsfeld after the Republican defeats in the 2006 midterms.

Rusty said...

The Crack Emcee said...
ISIS has no navy, no air force, no Army or Marines, no CIA,


Neither did the Viet Cong.
What's your point?

Levi Starks said...

By this time next year Obama will have completely forgotten that he ever even knew Hagel.

Birkel said...

Levi Starks:
That's a good one. Tell another.

I'm guessing Obama won't remember Hagel by the end of lunch.

PackerBronco said...

The only reason a Dem hires a Republican is so that he can fire him later w/out much trouble.

chillblaine said...

"...have enjoyed the comment threads a lot more when certain commenters were absent."

Okay, okay, I can take a hint!

Original Mike said...

I've had a low opinion of Chuck Hagel stretching back to his time as a Senator, but I have to respect his willingness to stay on until his replacement is confirmed (which could be a long time). Obama fired him. If it were me, I believe I'd be out the door immediately.

Henry said...

Rusty said, "Neither did the Viet Cong."

The Viet Cong was largely irrelevant after the Tet offensive. North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam using conventional weapons. Tanks and planes.

Crack is right on this one. Hagel's statement on the Islamic State was panicky and incoherent.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Original Mike I agree. Nothing like being the lame duck who has a target painted on his chest.

@ chilblain Not to worry!

jr565 said...

Stop picking people who are skeptical of fighting wars if you ultimately need to fight a war and win.
You know Hagel was the pick for Obama because, though a repub, he matched Obama for his skepticism. HOw's that working out?
Pick some damn hawks for crying out loud. ANd then don't tie their arms.

Drago said...

Henry: "Rusty said, "Neither did the Viet Cong."

The Viet Cong was largely irrelevant after the Tet offensive. North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam using conventional weapons. Tanks and planes."

True, in the end it was a Soviet-supplied armored column that ran south down the highway right smack into Saigon.

Henry: "Crack is right on this one. Hagel's statement on the Islamic State was panicky and incoherent."

Wrong on all counts.

Hagel's statement was made with full understanding of what obama is really doing (treading water) and Hagel understands that the ISIS "power" is not so much about physical forces but about perception.

ISIS is currently perceived as the "strong horse", and that makes them dangerous indeed. Who in the region is going to knock them off?

Drago said...

I should have added that it was North Vietnamese regulars manning the column that overran Saigon.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Henry
Viet Cong was irrelevant because they had already won the argument. Yes, they took an awful beating during Tet, but if they had to they would have reconstituted themselves throughout South Viet Nam and continued to take over control of the country through negotiations and subversion. As it was, they knew we could not stay, so they delayed until could take over the South in a walk-over.

ISIL/S is in a similar position of having some indigenous support, but with better weapons, better financing and a much less capable opposition. They are very dangerous to those in their proximity.. They have amply proven that.

If history is a guide allowing ISIL/S, al Queda, etc. to have safe havens is ultimately dangerous to us. Whether we defend our interests in Syria/Iraq or on our own shores is the real strategic question. Not whether ISIL is a danger to us.

Anonymous said...

Now Hagel can write a tell all book and this administration can say, "Well, what did you expect from a Republican?"

pm317 said...

In the interview, Hagel made two key points that serve as accusations that President Barack Obama is mismanaging the United States military and the ISIS threat. OUCH!

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Drago wrote: Hagel's statement was made with full understanding of what obama is really doing (treading water) and Hagel understands that the ISIS "power" is not so much about physical forces but about perception.

I think you credit Hagel with more perception than he actual possesses.

There's some evidence that ISIS hasn't really been able to secure gains outside of its base of support.

The main point of the Obama administration's failure is not the tactical uncertainty shown under Hagel, but the strategic decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the country under Gates. There's your point of failure, and it can't be undone now.

Original Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pm317 said...

He was fired for mishandling ebola crisis among other things? That is what some articles are saying. I don't understand putting ebola on his head.

Brando said...

"Viet Cong was irrelevant because they had already won the argument. Yes, they took an awful beating during Tet, but if they had to they would have reconstituted themselves throughout South Viet Nam and continued to take over control of the country through negotiations and subversion. As it was, they knew we could not stay, so they delayed until could take over the South in a walk-over."

Not sure how we got onto the topic of Vietnam, but the clincher in that war was the fact that the ARVN, despite years of support and training and assistance from us, could not defend itself after we left. Maybe this says something about the decadent effect of our foreign aid (making allies too dependent and weak) or maybe we shouldn't be trying to prop up countries that require significant assistance from us indefinitely.

Nixon even weaned them off of our ground support, at which point the South was in a position to step up if they were so inclined.

Brando said...

I remember some talk six years ago about Obama's "team of rivals" and how as president, he would welcome the feisty criticism of differing opinions in his administration. That probably lasted until the first disagreement.

The Crack Emcee said...

Rusty,

"Neither did the Viet Cong.
What's your point?"

"For nearly 15 years, our politicians have told us that murder perpetrated by Islamic terrorists represented an existential threat to the country. From al-Qaeda to ISIS, we are told that radical Islam is a killer that will drive us all into the sea. In fact, however, the most prolific killer of Americans hides behind a cloak of sensitivity and political correctness. The time has now come for some tough talk: The American people have one of the highest murder rates in the industrialized world. Almost all of these people are killed by other Americans. War hustlers and Bin Laden pimps love to go around screaming, but 9/11! Three thousand people died on 9/11. Nearly 15,000 Americans were killed in 2012. Americans perpetrate roughly five 9/11s against other Americans every year. By the end of this week, more Americans will be killed by other Americans than were ever killed by ISIS.

Why are our politicians ignoring this plague of American-on-American crime? Why are American leaders not protesting the cult of death that fills the graveyards of America? Who will bravely challenge the culture of failure that says that Americans should only be outraged when Muslims kill Americans? Who will challenge the American pathology that says that a boy who walks unarmed is acting French?

I demand a TSA checkpoint at every shopping mall to shield Americans against Americans. I demand drones to kill Americans before they kill other Americans. I demand that American leaders stop pretending that American morgues and American cemeteries are full of young men because of jihadis. The evidence is clear—American-on-American violence is a silent killer that only Americans can stop. American criminality is now so rampant that it must always be the only topic of any conversation. Let us not speak of any act of international terrorism until American terrorism has been wholly vanquished."

- Ta-Nehisi Coates


My point is, y'all's a bunch of scaredy-cat killers, still trying to work yourselves into a lather for another cowardly round of murder,...

richard mcenroe said...

We pulled out of Vietnam in '72. Saigon fell in '74. The ARVN fought and stalemated the NVA until the Democratic Congress pulled their funding.


Bear in mind that South Vietnam and the US were both members of SEATO at the time, so this qualified as a blatant breach of treaty...

richard mcenroe said...

Crack, if you and Ta-Nehsi are all that, why aren't you out confronting the Crips and telling them to lay down their arms? You puff real good in front of the white folks though.

John Lynch said...

The reason Hagel is gone?

Have we won any wars lately?

Drago said...

Henry: "I think you credit Hagel with more perception than he actual possesses."

Damn it Henry, you know I can't argue against that point!

Henry: "There's some evidence that ISIS hasn't really been able to secure gains outside of its base of support."

That is true, thus far, though I agree that a breakout beyond it might very well have happened already if it was going to.

Henry: "The main point of the Obama administration's failure is not the tactical uncertainty shown under Hagel, but the strategic decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the country under Gates. There's your point of failure, and it can't be undone now."

True again.

Birkel said...

"The evidence is clear—American-on-American violence is a silent killer that only Americans can stop."

Ta-Nehisi Coates misspelled black-on-black violence for some reason. That's not even the sort of typo you can blame on autocorrect.

Meanwhile, President Obama is trying to blame Secretary Hagel for the failings of Obama's foreign policy. Let's all read that "Why McCain Lost Me" (or whatever it was called) post. And then let's compare it to the "Why Obama Lost Me" post.

What's that? Oh.

DanTheMan said...

Osama Bin Laden had no navy, no air force, no Army or Marines, no CIA, no mercenaries, and no financial backing.

So, he was not a threat to us.

Big Mike said...

"Why did Obama get rid of Chuck Hagel?"

Because Obama doesn't like to have anyone reporting to him who's smarter than he is. And that's a very low bar to cross.

Anonymous said...

New thought: Obama also fired Hagel to counter the threat that Republicans would not confirm any Obama appointments unless Obama rescinds the amnesty E.O.

Sen. Paul: I will submit a resolution to declare war on ISIS.

Sen. Cruz: We should refuse all new appointments until amnesty reversed.

Pres. Obama: But we need a new Secretary of Defense!

And yes, I do believe that the Administration has access to non-public conversations of anyone it chooses.

The Drill SGT said...

richard mcenroe said...
We pulled out of Vietnam in '72. Saigon fell in '74. The ARVN fought and stalemated the NVA until the Democratic Congress pulled their funding.


I agree with the sentiment, but Saigon fell Apr 30, 1974...

Brando said...

"I agree with the sentiment, but Saigon fell Apr 30, 1974..."

I assume you meant "1975".

I don't know how much difference additional funding would have made--it was rotten for Congress to pull that funding at that point (it's not as though we pulled all foreign aid to any other countries) but I recall reading that in the early '70s when the North launched an earlier offensive, the ARVN melted away in disarray and it required massive bombing by the U.S. to stop a total collapse.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Brando and the Drill SGT

Regardless of the date the important phrase is "the ARVN melted away in disarray". We had been providing equipment and monetary support to the French and then the South Viet Namese in varying quantities since 1947. That congress declined to support the GVN any longer probably was a sane move bringing the inevitable about just a bit sooner.

The Drill SGT said...

yes,

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Obama liked that Hagel by speaking his mind, was a pain in the ass to the Republicans. Of course Obama never thought Hagel could be a pain in the ass for himself since Obama is never wrong, so Hagel would never disagree with Obama.

Skeptical Voter said...

To quote that wise Caucasian and perhaps future President
Shrillary, "At this point what difference does it make"---that Obama has fired another lightweight like Hegel.

The difficulty with the Obama Administration is not that it's a team of competent worthy rivals as the Obamabots promised.

Nope, it's an incompetent team of sycophants, and if you can't suck up to the boss, you're off the team.

Trashhauler said...

South Vietnam fell in 1975. The same ARVN, with few Americans on the ground, but fully backed by American air power, kicked the stuffing out of the North Vietnamese Army in 1972.

The same conventional armored and regular infantry attack worked in 1975 because of the churlish refusal on the part of the Democrats to allow either resupply of ammunition or support from US air power.

It isn't that sometimes the US chooses allies who won't defend themselves. What happens is that sometimes the US gets tired of holding up its end, giving the message to the ally that they are now on their own. Nothing could be more devastating to the morale of a fighting force.

Trashhauler said...

"That congress declined to support the GVN any longer probably was a sane move bringing the inevitable about just a bit sooner."

Sane? Maybe. Certainly true to form, since the Democrats have been trying to subvert wars ever since the Civil War. It did disregard our treaty obligations, but again, that's nothing new. But inevitable? Ain't no such animal in war, although the theory of Marxist warfare always held that such existed. But only for them. A theory our internal enemies readily bought and cling to even to this day. Despite the collapse of the very system which taught it, no more than 14 years later. The only thing inevitable about war is the bullshit you hear some say about it.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Hagel inexplicably started telling the truth about the time Obama was screwing up in Libya, Syria and in ignoring Isis. That's a firing...

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Obama is ok with lying, incompetence and playing politics, but Hagel criticized Obama and that cannot be tolerated.

khesanh0802 said...

@trashhauler
I agree with most of your points, but my "inevitable" has a pretty long time horizon. Ho's crowd was not going to quit until we were gone. They did it to the Chinese, the French and finally us. I argue that neither Dems or Repubs could /would have sustained RVN indefinitely. The Dems just happened to be in the driver's seat at the time.

Rusty said...

crack @ 1:16

Still haven't made a point.

You might want to study up on counterinsurgency movements and then post something coherent by someone who has a working brain cell.

traditionalguy said...

Hagel is being praised as a true friend if Israel by the Jewish Defense Minister. That maybe the answer why Hagel had to go. He will not threaten military action against the Jewish State

B. Hussain Obama's big goal is power to threaten the government of Israel to restrain an Israeli attack on Iran that has so far awaited an end to the show time of nuclear disarmament negotiations lasting 6 years under Iran's BFF in the Whitehouse... the same one who brags that Netanyahu is chickenshit for not attacking Iran already.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Hagel was nothing but cover for the President to diminish the military. Hagel was too stupid to see that but he performed to the task well enough. Good riddance.

Danno said...

Blogger Diogenes of Sinope said...
Obama liked that Hagel by speaking his mind, was a pain in the ass to the Republicans. Of course Obama never thought Hagel could be a pain in the ass for himself since Obama is never wrong, so Hagel would never disagree with Obama.

11/24/14, 3:59 PM

You're saying that Hagel grubered Obama?

Henry said...

khesanh0802 wrote: They did it to the Chinese, the French and finally us.

Then they did it to the Chinese again.

Jason said...

Funny how it's always the Dems in the driver's seat when things finally go irreparably to shit, eh?