Hagel Latest Casualty of White House Control
by Deacon Blues
I was all set today to do a quick post on how the House GOP just gave Hillary Clinton her free shot to the White House with their late Friday news dump that they found nothing to their own Benghazi conspiracy theories after all. Sure, Lindsey Graham wants to still make headlines by attacking his own party for issuing a report that he says is "full of crap", but Trey Gowdy's committee now is pretty much dead before it started with this final report from the House intelligence committee dismissing their own theories that Hillary and the White House engaged in a massive cover-up of their own deriliction of duty.
John McCain is already downplaying Hillary's candidacy by saying she accomplished little if anything while at State. That argument though now goes by the wayside with his criticism of today's news that Chuck Hagel is resigning as Secretary of Defense over problems with the White House national security staff, namely Susan Rice, and over disagreements with the White House over policy. It was already known that both John Kerry and Hagel disagreed with the befuddled White House policy on ISIS and Syria. Now the whispering campaign from the White House is that Hagel wasn't seen as the right SecDef to run Obama's new war effort in Afghanistan, which came out as a surprise late last week, whereby the USA will now support the new Afghanistan president and his partnership with Pakistan by allowing our military to stick around through 2015 to actively fight the Taliban. With the Pentagon now moving back into active war-fighting mode as supporters of local forces both in Afghanistan and now Syria/Iraq, Hagel's desire to focus on policy and not operations was seen as a bad fit.
Yet this is just the latest chapter in a book whose ending we already know. McCain's complaints about Hillary's thin track record lose credibility when he rightly blames the White House for micromanaging the Pentagon. Simply put, all national security policy, both at the Pentagon and at Foggy Bottom in this administration is run through the National Security Advisor and White House staff. Whether it be Clinton, Kerry, Hagel, Panetta, or Gates, the cabinet officers in this administration have limited freedom of movement themselves. Susan Rice and Denis McDonough run foreign policy and are responsible for the ISIS and Syria policy failures, and ultimately the president himself is responsible for those failures. Chuck Hagel, a good man who simply wanted to do good work and leave the place better than he found it, is just the latest casualty of this reality that John McCain fails to be honest about.
The problem Obama now faces is that he needs to fill a SecDef vacancy in a hostile GOP senate, when those senators have no respect for the White House staff. And with it clearly known that this same outmatched White House team is still calling the shots on foreign and defense policy, why would anyone with the necessary clout from the outside, like a former senator come aboard for these last two years, just to watch Rice and McDonough act like they know how to run multiple military campaigns from the White House?