Sunday, January 27, 2013

As the Washington Post goes after Chuck Hagel, he gets a defender from way out of town

Michael Cohen of the UK's Manchester Guardian has come to the aid of embattled Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel in a piece called In Defense of Chuck Hagel as the Washington Post Declares War, in which Cohen deconstructs the Post's Wednesday editorial, Chuck Hagel is not the Right Choice for Defense Secretary.
     Now, it's important to remember that when it comes to US foreign policy and national security, the Washington Post editorial board is pretty much always wrong – and the bigger the issue, the more wrong they are. They were badly wrong about the Iraq war (even going so far as to savage the wars critics); wrong about the surge in Afghanistan (is still badly wrong about current policy there); and is decidedly wrong on Chuck Hagel...
     ...According to the Post, Hagel believes that the defense department's budget is "bloated" and "needs to be pared down". Moreover, the Post dings Hagel for supposedly supporting the so-called sequestration cuts...
     The sequestration cuts are significant, but it's important to understand that if they were to go into effect, they would return the Pentagon to fiscal year 2007 levels. The idea that cuts of this nature are the height of irresponsibility is the height of insanity. In 2007, the Pentagon was fighting a war with more than 100,00 troops in Iraq

     ...One of their [the joint chiefs] key job requirements is to scare Congress and journalists into believing that cuts to their damage would be catastrophic. Indeed, this is the job requirement of any government agency head. That the Post accepts such arguments at face value is stupefying.
     ...On Iran, Hagel's positions are not only well-founded; they are informed by the sort of firm grasp of international and military affairs that has perennially eluded the Post's editorial board.
     In the end, the Post's concern with Hagel is not that he is out of step with the president, but rather that he is out of step with the bipartisan foreign policy consensus in Washington for which the Washington Post has been one of the loudest and most obnoxious cheerleaders. This is a consensus that views American interests in a limitless manner, that sees no reason to place constraints on the utilization of American power, that fetishizes military solutions to difficult national security challenges, and that looks disapprovingly on any politician who advocates a foreign policy of modesty and restraint.
     The fact that Chuck Hagel has so openly questioned this consensus is perhaps his most attractive attribute... It's small wonder so many long knives have come out against Hagel – but it's even more reason for Obama to pick him as the country's next secretary of defense.

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