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Mon Jan 7, 2013, 09:34 AM

Why Hagel Matters

by Peter Beinart Jan 7, 2013 4:45 AM EST

If the former senator is confirmed over Republican objections as Obama’s new secretary of defense, it could signal the beginning of a new era in American foreign policy, says Peter Beinart.


If media reports are true, Barack Obama will soon nominate Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense. If so, it may prove the most consequential foreign-policy appointment of his presidency. Because the struggle over Hagel is a struggle over whether Obama can change the terms of foreign-policy debate.

Understanding what that means requires understanding the state of foreign-policy discourse in the two parties today. First, the GOP. Had a Martian descended to earth in January 2003, spent a few days listening to Washington Republicans talk foreign policy, and then returned in January 2013, she would likely conclude that the Iraq War had been a fabulous success. She would conclude that because, as far as I can tell, not a single Republican-aligned Beltway foreign-policy politician or pundit enjoys less prominence than he did a decade ago because he supported the Iraq War, and not a single one enjoys more prominence because he opposed it. From Bill Kristol to Charles Krauthammer to John McCain to John Bolton to Dan Senor, the same people who dominated Republican foreign-policy discourse a decade ago still dominate it today, and they espouse exactly the same view of the world. As for those conservatives who opposed Iraq—people at places like the Cato Institute and The National Interest who believe that there are clear limits to American military power—our Fox News–watching, Wall Street Journal–reading Martian would have been largely unaware of their existence in 2003 and would remain largely unaware today. Our Martian friend might know somewhat more about Ron Paul than she would have a decade ago. But that familiarity would consist largely of the knowledge that respectable Republicans consider Paul a nut.

As intellectual history, this is astonishing. When Democrats took America into Vietnam, protesters rioted in the streets at the party’s 1968 convention. Academics like McGeorge Bundy and Walt Rostow became such pariahs after serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that they could not return to their old universities. Prominent pro-war columnists like Joseph Alsop became laughingstocks. Former Vietnam hawks like Zbigniew Brzezinski had to intellectually reinvent themselves to secure government jobs when the Democrats returned to power under Jimmy Carter. The Iraq-era GOP, by contrast, has constructed an intellectual cocoon so hermetically sealed that it has remained uncontaminated by the greatest foreign-policy disaster of the past 30 years. That’s partly the result of the “surge,” which allowed the Republican foreign-policy establishment to claim, in my view incorrectly, some measure of vindication. It’s partly because Iraq required no draft, and thus ordinary Americans never mobilized as dramatically to oppose it, which allowed foreign-policy elites to remain more insulated from shifts in the public mood. It’s partly because the institutions where conservative foreign-policy types work—places like The Weekly Standard, Fox News, and the American Enterprise Institute—have no natural mechanism for reconsidering their view of the world. When Vietnam went south, the intellectual climate at Harvard (where Bundy served as a dean) and The New York Times (which had initially backed the war) changed because Harvard and The New York Times had missions that transcended any particular perspective on American foreign policy. By contrast, hawkish nationalism is so intrinsic to the identity of places like Fox, the Standard, and AEI that abandoning it would threaten their reason for existence.

The final reason for the resiliency of this Republican foreign-policy cocoon is the American media, especially the television media, which take an entirely à la carte view of foreign-policy debates. Rarely is anything a commentator or legislator said yesterday about war with Iraq or Afghanistan deemed relevant to his or her credibility today on the subject of war with Iran. On cable, you shake an Etch a Sketch every time you go on air. Thus, the same Republican commentators and politicians who pushed a hawkish line on Iraq moved seamlessly to pushing a hawkish line on Afghanistan, and once that too became a lost cause, to pushing a hawkish line on Iran and everything else.

-snip-

read more:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/07/why-hagel-matters.html

22 replies, 1473 views

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Hagel Matters (Original post)
DonViejo Jan 2013 OP
AnotherMcIntosh Jan 2013 #1
flpoljunkie Jan 2013 #2
AnotherMcIntosh Jan 2013 #4
Bluenorthwest Jan 2013 #7
flpoljunkie Jan 2013 #8
flpoljunkie Jan 2013 #9
Hippo_Tron Jan 2013 #19
Bluenorthwest Jan 2013 #3
AnotherMcIntosh Jan 2013 #5
Liberal_Stalwart71 Jan 2013 #12
jenmito Jan 2013 #13
bemildred Jan 2013 #6
Nancy Waterman Jan 2013 #10
TwilightGardener Jan 2013 #11
jenmito Jan 2013 #14
octoberlib Jan 2013 #15
Purveyor Jan 2013 #16
ancianita Jan 2013 #17
JHB Jan 2013 #18
verycurious Jan 2013 #20
Cha Jan 2013 #22
Cha Jan 2013 #21

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:00 AM

1. Only the Republicans?

 

Does the quoted statement apply to only Republicans?
"not a single Republican-aligned Beltway foreign-policy politician or pundit enjoys less prominence than he did a decade ago because he supported the Iraq War, and not a single one enjoys more prominence because he opposed it. "


Isn't there a Democrat that President Obama could appoint?

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:09 AM

2. On Morning Joe, David Ignatius said Hagel pick would allow us to draw down quicker in Afghanistan

Video link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/vp/50384358#50384358

Ignatius comes on at 6:56 into the clip.

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Response to flpoljunkie (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:21 AM

4. I wouldn't be surprised if David Ignatius is a Republican.

 

Likewise, I wouldn't be surprised if "Morning Joe" is a Republican.

I would be surprised if no Democrat combat vet in Washington, DC could be found to "allow us to draw down quicker in Afghanistan." Obama could have started his search with the former Marine Generals who opposed the war in Afghanistan. At least one of them has to be a Democrat.

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Response to flpoljunkie (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 11:22 AM

7. So you support Hagel who voted for the Iraq War Resolution? Wow.

lpoljunkie Wed Aug-01-07 08:58 AM
Response to Reply #5

7. Hillary's "bad judgment" in voting for the Iraq War Resolution is not a small thing--neither is her

recently repeating Bush's line that "we are safer now." No, Hillary, we are not safer now. Bush's occupation of Iraq has undeniably created more jihadists and made us less safe.

Another thread:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x3274019

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:06 PM

8. Yes. Your comment is a distraction from why Hagel would be a good Sec Def whom HRC would support.

On the issue of military force, Hagel is more dovish than many Republicans and perhaps some Democrats. He opposed the Iraq war, but so did Obama (then an Illinois state senator), and, as is clearer now than ever, they were right. More disturbing to some conservatives, he opposed President Bush’s 2007 troop surge in Iraq. The surge and its accompanying shift in strategy did help significantly tamp down the violence in Iraq and allowed, five years later, for a dignified U.S. exit. In that sense, it “worked.” But it only bought time for the Iraqi political factions to settle their differences. (That’s all that Gen. David Petraeus, the strategy’s architect, ever claimed it could do.) And now it’s clear that the factions didn’t want to settle their differences, and so ethnic clashes have persisted, and the issues that divide the factions are no closer to settlement. Therefore, was Hagel so wrong? And, for what it’s worth, Obama, now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time opposed the surge, too. Are Hagel’s critics denouncing any of them? Again, they’re really going after Obama.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2013/01/chuck_hagel_for_secretary_of_defense_republicans_wants_to_block_him_from.html

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Response to flpoljunkie (Reply #8)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:18 PM

9. I would add it is neocons who are leading the charge against Hagel

Video from The Daily Rundown: Dan Señor, Neocon, vs. Steve Clemons, The Atlantic/The Washington Note

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-daily-rundown/50386208

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Response to AnotherMcIntosh (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:04 PM

19. Having a Republican oversee major reforms in the Defense Department is ideal

Hagel can cut the size of the military in the same way that Nixon could go to China.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:14 AM

3. Hagel voted for the Iraq War authorization. Articles like this one imply he opposed it, but he

supported it. He voted for the invasion. The war went on for 5 years before Chuck cast a single vote against it. Let us at least be honest about that. He bought into the faked intelligence and supported the rush for shock and awe.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:21 AM

5. x2

 

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:47 PM

12. He doesn't believe this now. And if we can forgive John Kerry and Hillary Clinton for essentially

the same crime, we can forgive Hagel. It's a good choice. He's a Republican who agrees with the Obama policy that the wars should come to an end. And because he's a Republican with these defense policies, it nullifies the argument that is often made against Democrats regarding defense. In other words, he's a Republican who can sell cutbacks in spending on defense and the military. And because he's also a decorated war hero, it'll be easier to sell that to the American people.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 01:03 PM

13. So did Joe Biden & John Kerry. But now they're against it, just like Hagel. n/t

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 10:23 AM

6. Interesting, thanks. nt

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:19 PM

10. Excellent article!

Thanks for posting. From the article:

My point is not that because the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have proved disastrous, war with Iran would too. Every war is different, and I wrote a whole book about how difficult it is to predict, on the basis of one conflict, how the next will turn out. But a Hagel nomination will ensure that when Obama officials discuss a third Middle Eastern war, the ghosts of Iraq and Afghanistan sit at the table. And while that won’t make American military action impossible, it will raise the bar.

What the Republican foreign-policy establishment fears is that with Hagel as secretary of defense, it will be impossible for Obama to minimize the dangers of war with Iran, as George W. Bush minimized the dangers of war with Iraq.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:27 PM

11. Best article I've read on the subject, thanks!

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 01:08 PM

14. K&R&T. n/t

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 01:19 PM

15. Obama's on tv nominating Hagel now nt

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 02:34 PM

16. +1 Thanks for posting... eom

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 02:52 PM

17. K & R

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:19 PM

18. Not just 10 years...

The neocons got their start in the 70s as Defense Hawks promoting the most expansive and paranoid speculation on Soviet capabilities and intentions, to the extent of arguing that lack of any proof of their claims was just evidence of how skilled the Soviets were at deception.

They've spent their entire careers being wrong, yet still being rising stars. Only George W. Bush has a more impressive record of failing upward.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)


Response to verycurious (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 12:54 AM

22. This is Democratic Underground.. The Democratic Party..while not Perfect is

working hard for our country.

President Obama is a Constitutional Scholar.. he knows full well how it reads.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 12:52 AM

21. Great article by Peter Beinart on why the PNAC crowd do NOT

want Chuck Hagel anywhere near the Sec of Defense Dept.

Here's another article about Chuck Hagel's fearlessness of standing up for what he believes in..

"Chuck Hagel at the VA"


He was told that he should join the team opposing Lin's design. If he did not join the opposition, he would be out of work. Friends at the White House would see to it that he would be fired. Most people would have caved. Hagel did not.


There are a few examples of stunning courage in Washington. Most are unheralded, this was one. Hagel said, "I serve at the pleasure of the President. If he fires me for supporting a design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, so be it."


Hagel never got fired. The opponents left, probably dazed at the outcome. Hagel went on to serve President Reagan in other capacities throughout the Presidency, and eventually, Nancy Reagan joined the National Sponsoring Committee for The Wall. A compromise was reached with the opposition, and in March 1982 we hosted an emotional groundbreaking. Hagel was a speaker.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/12/chuck-hagel-at-the-va/266545/


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