September 23, 2014

Why Chuck Hagel is Really So Scary: He’s Typical of the Current Rulers


“Joab came to the king [David] in his quarters and said, ‘Today you have humiliated all your followers, who this day saved your life, and the lives of your sons and daughters … by showing love for those who hate you and hate for those who love you. For you have made clear today that the officers and men mean nothing to you.’” — II Samuel, 19: 6-7 If Chuck Hagel is so much dumber than you are, why is he the one being nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of defense? Answer: Hagel knows how to be dumb in the right way. He’s simultaneously even dumber than you think yet also, to use an old expression, dumb like a fox. In his public self-management and especially during his confirmation hearings, Hagel handled himself in a manner that showed he is incapable of fulfilling a cabinet-level position. Here’s the primary example — Hagel said: “I support the president’s strong position on containment.” Now, the truth is that there’s nothing wrong with that. He did not say the president’s position advocating containment of Iran. Contrary to the way that many writers are portraying it, what he said wasn’t incorrect, just ambiguous. He could easily have recovered. Then, some of his handlers asked him to clarify. What did he do?

I was just handed a note that I misspoke … that I said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, I meant to say that we don’t have a position on containment.

Now this management alone is enough to bar him from handling one of the most important and complex jobs in the world. Let’s count the ways:

– Never admit that you’ve just been told you were wrong! He should have pocketed the note without mentioning it and simply added to his statement (see below). What he did instead is on the level of stupidity of a television host being shown a cue card reading: “Wrap up the show, moron!”, and then reading that aloud to the live audience. — He should have said something like this: “I do not want any ambiguity in my clear statements of support for the president and for a tough policy on Iran. I support the president’s position of asserting that containment is insufficient and that our goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, leaving all options open for doing so.”

 

Chuck Hagel and  Leon E. Panetta (DoD photo By Glenn Fawcett)

Chuck Hagel and Leon E. Panetta (DoD photo By Glenn Fawcett)

He doesn’t just not know the facts, he doesn’t know how to be a high-level official. He doesn’t just not know the details of international affairs, his thought is simply not coherent. And unlike Obama and Kerry, he doesn’t know how to hide his radicalism behind smooth phrases.

– And then he makes it worse by saying that the administration doesn’t have a policy on containment!

Of course, the U.S. government does have a position on containment of Iran! It is, supposedly, against doing that. (Accepting that Iran has nuclear weapons and then trying to limit the damage by isolating Iran, surrounding it with forces, installing anti-missile and early-warning stations, etc.) President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and two ex-defense sectaries, along with tens of others, expressed it daily. (Of course — it is 99 percent likely that they will end up trying containment anyway.)

Published on PJMedia

About Barry Rubin

Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)