Wednesday, January 16, 2013

War Party Hawks Disappointed over Hagel Nomination

Frankly, I have a hard time seeing what all the hubbub is about:
[B]arring the unexpected, Hagel will succeed Leon Panetta at the Pentagon. And that could prove to be President Obama's most significant appointment to date.

Why? Consider what Hagel's nomination signifies. Unlike his predecessor, who called the defense cuts built into the sequester "disastrous," Hagel thinks they're A-OK. And that's precisely why he's the president's man. As David Brooks put it, Hagel has been nominated "to supervise the beginning of [a] generation-long process of defense cutbacks," necessitated both by the president's ambivalence about American global hegemony and by his preference for butter over guns in our impending debt and entitlement reckonings. Hagel is also functionally neutral in the Arab-Israeli conflict, an avowed opponent of military intervention in Iran, and (after his rebirth as an Iraq War skeptic) a maximally circumspect foreign-policy "realist" who would be more than content to oversee a net U.S. withdrawal from global hotspots (including, but not limited to, Af-Pak).

This constellation of foreign-policy views is not too different from that of candidate Obama, circa 2007, 2008, or even 2009. That such views are nonetheless leftward of the actual policies that have emerged from the Obama administration may sound odd, but in fact reflects how outside the foreign-policy mainstream those views were and to a certain extent still are.
"Functionally neutral in the Arab-Israeli conflict". An "opponent of military intervention in Iran". A "foreign policy 'realist'", not terribly saddened by the prospect of an American withdrawal from Af-Pak and other conflict-prone areas. Sounds to me like a very attractive platform for those who desire a back-turn away from a policy of democratic imperialism; one hopes that what will replace it is a policy of non-interventionism--although anything other than bellicose saber-rattling will probably earn jeers and slurs of "isolationism" from neocons and other foreign policy hawks.

While I generally welcome anything that reduces the bloat and scope of the central government, unfortunately, this defense drawdown isn't being made in the name of increasing liberty or even reducing spending. Neither are priorities of either wing of the bifactional ruling party, and neither are priorities of Mr. Obama's administration. Rather, I suspect Leviathan, instead of actually drawing down, will merely shift form, away from warfare and more toward welfare.


newrebeluniv said...

I don't see what all the fuss is about. The other members of Obama's cabinet have been doing a LOT more damage to America than Hagel could as SECDEF. Obama is a communist. His appointments reflect that. Personally I am wondering why he isn't appointing another short fat feminist dyke to the post. That would make all the female senior officers happy. There must be another Kagel in his binder.

ECM said...

Generally I agree with you, but you're being naive in this case. He is Obama's man, not his own, and thus will not be promulgating his interests, but those of the current occupant of the White House, which run contrary to everything you stated as being for in this post and across your blog.

Unknown said...

Of course the money is simply going to be shifted from defense to welfare. The really interesting dilemma however will be this: When the government has only enough money to pay for SocSec/Medicare or welfare, which group will be cut off?

Elusive Wapiti said...

"...why he isn't appointing another short fat feminist dyke to the post. That would make all the female senior officers happy"

To say nothing of throwing a bone to the bean-counting diversitycrats in his own party.

Oh, the howls of pain that Mr. Obama's cabinet picks haven't conformed to the complexion or plumbing of the Democrat constituency.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"...which run contrary to everything you stated as being for in this post and across your blog."

How so? I don't see Mr. Obama falling over himself to shackle America's interests to Israel's, our non-ally ally. Or spouting off with "bomb bomb bomb Iran", while the rest of the world just shrugs. And he seems fairly intent on getting us out of Afghanistan (while getting us involved in Mali).

That's not to say I'm a fan of Mr. Obama's policies. Far from it. Rather than he's less beholden to the Wolfowitz's or Fukuyama's of the world.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"When the government has only enough money to pay for SocSec/Medicare or welfare, which group will be cut off?"

Yes, that will be amusing. And it's coming, because there's not enough money in the DoD budget to close the discretionary budget gap. So eventually some Democrat consituencies will be pitted against another in squabbling over scraps from the Federal pie.

That's not to say that white males (the only group explicitly excluded from the Democrat class warfare tent) should take heart though. Because only after all the blood has been squeezed from these producers will the looters start turning on each other.

When that happens, grab some popcorn.

Elspeth said...

I am not worked up over the Hagel nomination either. I mostly agree with your assessment.

I think there is an understandable tendency on the part of those on the right to view every move Obama makes with suspicion.

Nevertheless, elections have consequences.

Unknown said...

@ E.W. "When that happens, grab some popcorn."

When that happens, it won't be popcorn I grab.

Elusive Wapiti said...

LOL Unknown. I suppose it'll be entertaining in a schadenfreude kind of way at first. But I suspect you're correct that the humor will fade pretty quickly.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Nevertheless, elections have consequences."

Yes, yes they do.

As for me, I'm hoping the Republican Party pulls its head out of it's rear soon, before the party splinters. It's getting real hard to believe Reps when they rail against spending and deficits and such.

Dexter said...

I always thought Panetta was appointed to supervise big cuts. But it hardly matters, since big cuts are coming no matter who they appoint. This is just Bambi's way of tarring the GOP with some of the responsibility.

Elusive Wapiti said...

@ Dexter,

Yeah, I thought the same about Panetta too. But I'm wondering if the method to Mr. Obama's madness by nominating a nominal republican (just like Clinton did with Cohen) is to blunt R opposition. Perhaps it greases the skids a bit by having "one of them" on staff.