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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:03 AM

Why Republicans Can No Longer Be Trusted on National Security

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2013/02/chuck_hagel_s_nomination_as_secretary_of_defense_the_republican_senators.single.html


Why Republicans Can No Longer Be Trusted on National Security
Because their leaders have become shallow, ignorant, and totally unserious on the issue that matters most.

By Fred Kaplan|Posted Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at 6:22 PM ET


It’s been clear, at least since the 2012 election, that the Republican Party has abrogated its role—really, abandoned any interest—in shaping or seriously discussing American foreign policy. But only recently has this indifference shifted into toxic territory, and on Tuesday the fumes formed a poisonous cloud, the likes of which hadn’t been witnessed in decades.

The occasion was the Senate Armed Services Committee’s vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense. In the end, Hagel pulled through, but only on a party-line vote (all Democrats in favor, all Republicans opposed) and after a debate that raised doubts less about Hagel than about the modern GOP’s inclination—and the Senate’s ability—to oversee anything as consequential as national security.

Hagel’s Jan. 31 confirmation hearings had been appalling enough—not just for his own lackluster performance, but more for his inquisitors’ bizarrely narrow focus. They asked almost nothing about the issues that will face the next defense secretary: the budget, the roles and missions of the Army, the balance of drones vs. manned aircraft, the size of the Navy, the future of Afghanistan, or the “pivot” from Europe to Asia. Instead, they hectored the nominee about the adequacy of his fealty toward Israel, his animosity toward Iran, and whether he was right or wrong about the 2007 troop-surge in Iraq.

snip//

Not to sound like a Golden Age nostalgic, but there once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters. They disagreed in their conclusions and sometimes their premises. But most of them worked to educate themselves, at least to the point where they could debate the issues, or ask questions of a general without coming off like complete idiots. The sad thing about this new crop of senators—especially on the Republican side—is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.

After Tuesday’s vote, Sen. Levin adjourned the session, saying, “We thank you all, and we look forward to another wonderful year together.” The other senators laughed, but it really wasn’t funny.

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