Chuck Hagel: America’s new drone czar?

posted at 8:58 pm on January 7, 2013 by Allahpundit

Here’s what I was getting at in the last post about O potentially using Hagel more as a fig leaf for his own hawkish policies than letting Hagel help him to unleash the dove within. To the extent the left still cares about the Bush-ier elements of Obama’s counterterror approach, their chief concern is drone strikes. With good reason: After ranting about “King George” for eight years, the guy they elected to replace him now oversees his very own “kill list” targeting jihadis (including those with American citizenship) in an ever-expanding array of countries with an ever-expanding death toll of civilians as collateral damage. Surely the appointment of Chuck Hagel signals that O’s prepared to retreat from his Hellfire-missile whack-a-mole strategy, right?

Nope. The other side of today’s personnel coin is John Brennan, Obama’s counterterror czar and the de facto head of the drone program, being sent to replace Petraeus at CIA. The drones aren’t going away anytime soon, especially with fewer American boots on the ground in Afghanistan; Obama prefers to wage war in the shadows, just as he prefers to incinerate targets rather than capture them and then cope with the legal headaches of where to house them or whether to render them. So not only is the Hagel appointment unlikely to pay dividends for the left on one of their few remaining counterterror priorities, the guy tasked with overseeing the drone campaign might soon be … Chuck Hagel himself:

Since last April John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, has been the point man making the administration’s legal and moral case for targeted killing (what used to be called assassination). But Brennan has also indicated he doesn’t want the CIA to be in the paramilitary, as opposed to spying, business (at least not all that much). All of which raises an important question: As CIA director will Brennan continue his current role as the administration’s counterterror chief, turning the agency into the president’s personal killing machine? Or will he try to fob off more of the dirty work on the Pentagon?

And if Brennan decides to do the latter, how will Chuck Hagel react? The new nominee to run the Pentagon has long talked about conducting a moral foreign policy “determined as much by our commitment to principle as by our exercise of power,” as he once put it in a Foreign Affairs article. Hagel has also sought to restrain the use of force so as cause a minimum of “collateral damage”—that is, the accidental killing of innocents – and critics say that is one of the biggest problems with Obama’s dramatically stepped-up drone program…

In an email to National Journal on Monday, a senior administration official said he didn’t “expect any daylight between Brennan and Hagel over counterterrorism policy or operations. They both understand how to go after terrorists effectively, prudently, and within the confines of American law and policy — that’s a hallmark of how both men come at these questions.”

Sounds like the White House either has already gotten Hagel’s thumbs up on drone strikes or else they expect they can get his thumbs up without much difficulty. Or maybe the blather about the Pentagon taking over the drone program is just that — blather, with Brennan to retain control once he’s enthroned at CIA. O’s done a lot of damage to AQ under Brennan’s guidance. Why mess with the formula now?

If confirmed by the Senate to lead the CIA, John Brennan, to paraphrase Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, will be clothed in immense power. He’s already an architect of the CIA’s accelerated counterterrorism campaign, the one that launches drone strikes at suspected terrorists around the world. From his perch at the White House, Brennan has been a major advocate for the CIA, perhaps more effectively than the men running Langley, thanks to his close relationship with Obama…

Intelligence veterans who’ve worked with Brennan don’t expect him to make major changes at Langley. After all, much of the CIA’s focus during the Obama administration has come under Brennan’s somewhat removed watch. Those who want to see the CIA hand over control of the drone program to the U.S. military — a position that the Washington Post reported Brennan was sympathetic to in the White House — may be disappointed.

“It may be that once he’s sitting at CIA and has his hand on the joystick, as it were, he may be reluctant to divest control to the military,” says Robert Grenier, a former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. “There’s little question that both for substantive and political reasons the war on terrorism is still on the front burner, and he’s certainly not going to take his foot off the gas with regard to the war on terrorism.”

That’s the best of both worlds for O. He’ll still have his star quarterback running the drone-strike offense but now he’ll have Chuck Hagel as head cheerleader to reassure the left that everything’s being done conscientiously. Surely he wouldn’t simply tell them what they wanted to hear, right?

One more fun footnote to all this, to illustrate how far we’ve come from the days of progressive high dudgeon over counterterror policy. The whole reason Brennan originally ended up in the White House as O’s counterterror czar rather than as the head of the CIA was because back in 2009 his support for enhanced interrogation made him radioactive to liberals. The avatar of Hopenchange couldn’t very well nominate a man like that; why, the Democratic Senate might even refuse to confirm him. Four years of Democratic rule later, with the left’s interest in this subject having duly and predictably faded, O’s finally going to run him out there for a confirmation hearing with little serious opposition expected. Perfection.


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Chuck Hagel knows that the REAL terrorists are hiding in the settlements.

abobo on January 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM

I always thought Hagel was as dumb as a brick…wasn’t he a former “journalist”..?

d1carter on January 7, 2013 at 9:03 PM

Here’s what I was getting at in the last post about O potentially using Hagel more as a fig leaf for his own hawkish policies than letting Hagel help him to unleash the dove within.
===================================================

That Dove has Horns me thinks!
(sarc)

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Expect another fore years of Obama saying that something is sloppy…
And someone will be in the hospital for a blood clot..

Electrongod on January 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Chuck Hagel: America’s new drone czar?

More more like Obama’s newest Marxist infiltrator into the GOP elite leadership club.

Jihad in America: The Grand Deception.

SWalker on January 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

The DoD will probably have its own drone program for a range of reasons while the CIA has one for its own purposes. I don’t see how any DoD drone policy would be a fig leaf for how the CIA uses drones or the ongoing issue of how targets are chosen. The DoD will likely make their policy public while the CIA won’t but where is the conflict between the two policy streams? They both favor the lighter footprint model which refrains from large troop deployments, occupations, and large scale unilateral military operations.

lexhamfox on January 7, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Hmmmmmmmmmmm..

Al-Monitor ‏@AlMonitor

#Hagel attacks “lack any meaningful basis in fact, & can end up hurting #Israel more than they help her.” @bencaspit http://almon.co/4h4

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23hagel

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Is Obama Hitler???

Electrongod on January 7, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Expect another fore years of Obama saying that something is sloppy…
And someone will be in the hospital for a blood clot..

Electrongod on January 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Electrongod:Well,theres Political Protection Armour for that!
(snark)

@NBCNews tweeted:
Hillary Clinton presented with football helmet by staff on first day back at work (photo: State Dept.) http://t.co/7Vi5rE73

https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/288372365862268929/photo/1

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 9:23 PM

@NBCNews tweeted:
Hillary Clinton presented with football helmet by staff on first day back at work (photo: State Dept.) http://t.co/7Vi5rE73

https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/288372365862268929/photo/1

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 9:23 PM

How quick she was to get protection for her head..

Our guys abroad got nothing….

Electrongod on January 7, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Mortar Tubes???

Those are just fireworks…

same with those things you call rockets…

Carry On!!

BigWyo on January 7, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Obama is so bi-partisan.

MT on January 7, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Did you read VDH’s assessment of the two?
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/337088/obama-nominations-victor-davis-hanson

onlineanalyst on January 7, 2013 at 9:32 PM

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 9:23 PM

How quick she was to get protection for her head..

Our guys abroad got nothing….

Electrongod on January 7, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Electrongod:

OOOOOOOOOH,very nice Observation,..”A” H*lluva good pointy!:)

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 10:02 PM

lexhamfox, you disappoint. One has reason to expect more from you. You are clearly not as clueless or intellectually mediocre as Obama or Hagel or Hillary or Kerry or the DepSecDef, et al (yes, direct exposure confirms the obvious public evidence of these scurrilous and invidious descriptions). But disappointing here, nonetheless.

“Large troop deployments”? WTF? You use what you need to use. “Light footprint” is not a strategy, it’s a tactic, though lately it’s mostly been an empty buzzword for Fruydendahl-level stupidity (Casey, Chiarelli) and an excuse to befuddle the typically clueless Beltway denizen.

“Occupations”. WTF? There’s anything the slightest bit wrong with “occupations”? Excuse me? How much of the Geneva Conventions are concerned specifically with occupations, and the dos/don’ts for occupiers and occupied? It’s a normal, moral, decent, strategically sound, perfectly routine part of sovereign states defending themselves. Consult with previously occupied Japanese and Germans on their before/after pictures WRT governance, human rights, economic prosperity, and security.

“large scale unilateral military operations” – Wow. A repeat on the idiotic “large-scale” – you need what you need and use what you have – sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.

“Unilateral” – the badge of complete beclownment, very disappointing. The Pacific War in WWII was unilateral, in effect. Unless you count Aussie coast-watchers in the Solomons, and helpful local populations who (horror of horrors! even after exposure to colonialism, they instantly and vastly preferred the Americans to the Japanese and provided lots of help). “Unilateral” is a word whose only real significance is to designate the typical user as a clueless captive of the shallow, cartoonish Beltway/NPR/BBC-level understanding of the world.

Clue: when there’s only one real military power with expeditionary capacity and will, all expeditionary operations will be led primarily by that power. Logic – it’s a near-magical thing you might consider injecting into your thought processes. Picking a recent example where the clueless often used the word “unilateral” – Iraq – the extreme moral degradation and dishonor of so much of the world (and the US) in ignorantly criticizing operations there included, of course, ignoring the extraordinary valorous contributions of personnel from such diverse sources as El Salvador, Poland, and Bulgaria. It’s still surreal – the world and the idiots ruining the US today did the equivalent of cheering the SS, the Ustachi, and the NKVD in WWII, while baselessly condemning the maquis, the Filipino resistance, and the Allies.

But back to the topic at hand (and here you are correct – much ado about nothing, really). Even here, your meme-infested comment goes very much astray (in a way that, sadly, MOST commenters here also don’t seem to understand): effective drone strikes depend entirely on a granularity of intelligence that is quite rare absent a large, occupation-like deployment (even of the “unilateral” kind!). There is no “remote control” option in most situations. The guys sipping their Starbucks while at the controls in Rancho Bernardo, Langley, Bahrain, or wherever would be helpless to make desirable strikes without – in most cases – the fruits of close grappling with the enemy. This is only done through massive intel operations, and even more so through large military operations – the only situations that yield the sort of intel required for drone operations.

The measure of the quality of the US working-level military and intel operations, and of most of the Bush-era policies and strategies, is that they could be implemented by totally unfit and preposterous political-level folks in the next administration, often in a lackluster manner, and yet still achieve good results. As with the economic power being squandered, undermined, and even assaulted by these same lightweights, the momentum and inertia of previous competence and freedom take some time to exhaust. But we’re getting there.

IceCold on January 7, 2013 at 10:06 PM

…they’re all drones!

KOOLAID2 on January 7, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Zee Plot Thickens………………………………..

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters

Analysis: As Pentagon chief, Hagel likely to favor sizable Afghan drawdown http://reut.rs/V57Yqr
==============================

Analysis: As Pentagon chief, Hagel likely to favor sizable Afghan drawdown

WASHINGTON | Mon Jan 7, 2013 6:03pm EST

(Reuters) – A decorated Vietnam veteran acutely aware of the limits of military power, Chuck Hagel is likely to favor a sizable drawdown in Afghanistan, more frugal spending at the Pentagon and extreme caution when contemplating the use of force in places like Iran or Syria.

Obama’s decision to nominate Hagel – a Republican former senator who split with his party to oppose the Iraq war – as U.S. defense secretary came despite a public lobbying campaign against his candidacy in recent weeks by a host of critics, some of whom seized upon past remarks to argue he is anti-Israel.

Hagel’s supporters deny that, but are bracing for a tough confirmation battle in the Senate. Obama, as he announced the nomination, called Hagel the kind of leader U.S. forces deserve and pointed to his sacrifices in the Vietnam War, where he earned two Purple Hearts – the decoration for troops wounded in battle.
(More….)
===========

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/07/us-obama-nominations-hagel-idUSBRE9060WL20130107

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 10:33 PM

…they’re all drones!

KOOLAID2 on January 7, 2013 at 10:21 PM

KOOLAID2:Lol,you is on zee roll,and there programmed as well:)

canopfor on January 7, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Chuck Hagel knows that the REAL terrorists are hiding in the White House settlements.

abobo on January 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM

DevilsPrinciple on January 7, 2013 at 10:49 PM

acutely aware of the limits of military power

This, my friends, is the sort of “reporting” that results in a cretinized, crippled country.

Ow how I’d like to sit and take notes while Hagel edumucates me on the “limits of military power” – which he clearly understands as a low-ranking field guy in a war. Perhaps he’ll tell me where all the VietCong went. Perhaps he’ll finally explain the mystery of Gen. Giap and other NV leaders describing how they were basically defeated, how the Soviets were at the end of their patience and had nearly given up (also confirmed in Soviet archives), even the reminiscences of my ex-girlfriend’s father (VC) who described how all hope of victory had been exhausted after the disastrous 1973 offensive had been crushed by ARVN ground action supported by US air power.

Neither Hagel, nor Reuters, nor anyone like them, even remotely (much less “acutely”) understands anything about military power. Obviously.

But the pathetic affirmative action non-entity catastrophe of a “president” had one of his pigs-and-truffles moments: America’s troops do, indeed, “deserve” the leaderships they’re getting now. Not, of course, in any moral sense, whereby they deserve vastly better. But in a practical sense. There’s no excuse for not knowing what kind of country, populace, you are “defending” now. I’m sure military personnel cannot get away with chuckling at the “uphold and defend the constitution” part of their oath, as civilians have been doing (uncontrollably). But if they don’t feel the spontaneous urge for dark laughter, they do, in a way, “deserve” what they’re getting by volunteering for the echo, the memory of a country and a constitution, and not its hollowed out and inverted shell.

IceCold on January 8, 2013 at 12:26 AM

IceCold on January 7, 2013 at 10:06 PM

The changes I mentioned were going to take place no matter who won the election in 2008. Occupations are perfectly legal… they are incredibly expensive, inefficient, and against our current enemies occupations and large deployments merely play to their strengths rather than our own. Secretary Gates is not clueless and set out the changes in US doctrine pretty clearly as have others. It can also be seen in the budget changes… choices in what capabilities we are investing in and others we aren’t.

The guys sipping their Starbucks while at the controls in Rancho Bernardo, Langley, Bahrain, or wherever would be helpless to make desirable strikes without – in most cases – the fruits of close grappling with the enemy. This is only done through massive intel operations, and even more so through large military operations – the only situations that yield the sort of intel required for drone operations.

I understand that drone strikes are much more complicated and require more support and preparation than most people understand. How many battalions have we deployed on the NW frontier in Pakistan where most of the drone strikes are taking place?

lexhamfox on January 8, 2013 at 1:25 AM

Obama is so bi buy-partisan.

MT on January 7, 2013 at 9:32 PM

FIFY

Shy Guy on January 8, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Chuck Hagel knows that the REAL terrorists are hiding in the settlements.

abobo on January 7, 2013 at 9:00 PM

The real terrorists are found in the government.

Dante on January 8, 2013 at 9:02 AM