Archive for category US Foreign Policy
The very character traits and policy positions that make Chuck Hagel controversial also make him the right choice for Secretary of Defense:
- Recognition of the folly of the Iraq war.
- Willingness to criticize Israel when warranted.
- Emphasis on dialogue over bravado.
- Realization that force is the last option, not the first. His inclination to open up dialogue with enemies like Hezbollah are not capitulation. They are instead a realization that a new approach is required if the continuous cycle of tit for tat violence in that region is to stop.
Being a Vietnam veteran who has experienced the horror of war up close only adds to his credibility.
For those of us looking for significant change in the US foreign policy stance rather than the outdated establishment view that has kept us backing corrupt rulers and getting mired in useless conflicts like Iraq, this is a small step in the right direction.
Furthermore, Hagel is the right person to lead the necessary transition to a fiscally smaller defense department.
Adding Hagel and Kerry simultaneously strengthens the foreign policy and national security teams. Both have the credibility of veterans who know enough about war to know that it should be avoided. Plus if people think Hagel is too radical Kerry will be able to smooth the ruffled feathers.
Now I want to see the president fight for this nominee. With no reelection pressure this is the time to call in the favors and invest the political capital necessary to move foreign policy into the 21st century.
Why were republicans so intent on keeping Susan Rice from becoming Secretary of State? She never showed any sign of going off-script. She always supported standard American Establishment foreign policy. Never went off the rails toward anything radical, never scared Israel like Andy Young did in the 70s. When she went on television to explain what happened in Benghazi she was little more than a messenger. Diplomatic security is not her responsibility.
Was it to derail the Obama agenda in some way? I hope that our politics hasn’t become so divisive that the opposition would make weakening the president’s hand such a priority.
Dare we wonder if it was because she’s a Black woman? John Kerry, the new front runner for the nomination—also a good choice, would be the first White guy in that job in 16 years since Warren Christopher. Are there folks on the right—the same characters who question President Obama’s legitimacy who would like to restore what they perceive as the natural order?
The other question is why Obama and his allies in Congress did not fight for her. The President himself strongly defended Amb. Rice, but we did not hear much from fellow Democrats in Congress or from the executive branch. After today’s announcements from the independent inquiry on the Benghazi attack, one wonders if someone feels a need to divert blame away from Hilary Clinton.
These questions remain unanswered and will continue to be the subject of much speculation. What does seem clear is that if you want to stop a political appointment by this administration all it takes is a little resistance.