Withdrawing from Afghanistan, Plus Future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming
posted at 7:14 pm on September 30, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
I just heard Bill Kristol on the Hugh Hewitt show dropping a couple of political bombshells:
- First, Kristol now believes for the first time that President Barack H. Obama is paving the groundwork for rejecting Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation of a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, including increasing troop levels.
Note that it was the Obamacle Himself who appointed McChrystal to head up his present commands, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), just three months ago; and he it was who ordered McChrystal to undertake a complete review of the Afghanistan policy.
I suspect Obama expected McChrystal to recommend declaring defeat and pulling out. But in response to Obama’s order, McChrystal released a 66-page report to continuing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that called for significantly increasing troop levels there and redeploying the force in a counterinsurgency mode, similar to Iraq.
Ever since, as several bloggers have argued (notably John Hinderaker at Power Line), Obama has acted like a man who deeply regrets having picked an actual fighting general in the first place — and who wants to prepare the American people for the complete rejection of his own appointee’s report, in favor of a phased withdrawal from “the war we should be fighting,” as some guy named Barack Obama called it during the campaign (in contrast to Iraq, the war we were supposed to lose, one presumes).
- Second, and far more shocking, is some political intel that Kristol received from a person who is in “cose contact” with top Defense officials: That holdover George W. Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates will be asked by Obama to step down at the end of the year… and that Obama plans to name former senator Chuck Hagel, who never met a war he didn’t want us to withdraw from, as his new Secretary of Retreat and Defeat.
Hagel was an infantry grunt in Vietnam for two years, leaving shortly after the Tet Offensive; that experience seems to have colored his attitude towards all subsequent conflicts: He sometimes votes for them (as for example the Iraq war); but as soon as the going gets tough, Hagel demands an immediate and aggressive surrender.
- He was one of only four Republicans in July 2007 who voted in favor of cloture on a bill to force withdrawal from Iraq starting 120 days from that vote; the other three were Olympia Snowe (ME, 12%), Susan Collins (ME, 20%), and Gordon Smith of Oregon, liberals all.
- In railing against the Iraq COIN strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, Hagel called it “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out.” (I don’t recall Hagel ever issuing an apology, or even a statement, after the Petraeus strategy proved decisive in our victory in Iraq.)
Speaking about Israeli’s incursion into Lebanon to stop Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on their northern cities, Hagel blurted out:
“The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now…. President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop.”…
“How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend — the country and people of Lebanon — is going to enhance America’s image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?” asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Yes, the perfect man to defend America — Barack Obama style. I can just picture the furious and manly letters of strong disapproval Hagel will shoot off whenever some dictator funds and gives safe haven to a terrorist group while they blow up another American embassy.
Currently, Chuck Hagel is Chairman of the Board of the Atlantic Council, a foreign-policy think tank cum policy advocacy group that appears to lean heavily towards diplomacy above everything — talking loudly and forgetting to bring any stick at all, big or small. (E.g., its International Advisory Board is headed by Brent Scowcroft and includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Edelman, Lawrence H. Summers, and a huge inflation of bankers and CEOs of vast multinational corporations.)
Hagel replaced outgoing Chairman Jim Jones, who was tapped to serve as Obama’s National Security Advisor; Jones was last seen offering what we called “the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe — while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic.”
Since the Jim Jones appointment as security sock puppet worked out so well for Obama, it certainly seems plausible that he would go back to the same well to draw out a bucketful of Defense Secretary. Admittedly, Kristol just lost his father, Irving Kristol; but it was hardly the sort of shocking or unanticipated demise that might throw William Kristol into a blue funk and darken his normal optimism.
The threatened appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be catastrophic for the war efforts, all of them: Iraq, Afghanistan, the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, intelligence gathering, interrogations, dealing with Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia… and of course, Hagel would be a disaster for Israel, as he would almost certainly back Obama to the hilt in the latter’s quest to force Israel back to the indefensible borders of the pre-Six Day War era. (In exchange for the Palestinian’s promise that they might seriously consider deciding whether or not to recognize Israel sometime in the distant and not very likely future.)
Appointing Hagel would seriously diminish our ability to protect our allies or even defend ourselves, and in general would signal the end of American power and leadership in the world, at least for a while (say until 2013). Therefore, I conclude that Obama is already plotting to make the appointment.
I must also conclude that the Senate will swiftly approve the nominee;, Hagel was once one of them… therefore, “comity of the Senate” and all that, Republicans will probably support him, though he rarely supported them while in that august body.
And there you have it, your recommended minimum daily allowance of political pessimism and national-defense despair.
Gross-toasted to Big Lizards…