“So far, Obama’s big problem is that the threat to use force has not seemed credible,” the unnamed White House adviser told the New York Times. “The question is whether if Chuck is defense secretary, the Iranians would take seriously the thought that he is willing to use force if it comes to that.”

If Iran takes Hagel’s nomination as a signal Washington isn’t serious about stopping its nuclear breakout, then the nomination actually makes military conflict with the Islamic Republic more likely — assuming, of course, the Iranians are wrong and President Obama is serious when he says all options are on the table in stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability…

You can already hear the president’s campaign-style speeches to the nation, coming to a TV near you very soon: “Let’s be clear: No one wants a weakened military, certainly not the commander in chief. But my secretary of defense, a conservative Republican and a Vietnam veteran mind you, agrees that there is plenty of room to in the military budget to save money. We aren’t going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and elderly alone. The Republicans in Congress need to face up to this reality. We have to have a balanced approach. Everything must be on the table, including defense.”

Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary, admitted that a main appeal of placing Hagel at defense is that he can help make the budget cuts more palatable.