"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Obama Nominates Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel to be SecDef Putting his Stamp on Foreign Policy

After spending the end of last week in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl, visiting the Kennedy Museum at the Book Depository, and discovering the sports media didn't quite get the real essence of the debacle that is Jerry's World, I am back.

This was my fourth visit to the Kennedy Museum at the Book Depository but had not been there for several years and was surprised at the subtle changes.  It was nice to find out that Live Oak Trees grow rapidly -- not the case of ones we had in TX but good cover the story they were presenting.  Left the Museum feeling more convinced that we don't have the truth about the Kennedy Assassination even today which should be an indictment of the Nixon Cabal that took over from the corrupt LBJ and his goons.

What bothered me the most was the deja vu feeling I had when looking at the hatred toward Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy by the John Birchers and Minuteman -- they were opposed to the efforts to desegregate the public schools and the universities.It sounds like same group of haters who vilify Hispanics/Blacks/Gays/Women and believe Obama is the anti-christ.  Only difference is that they were Democrats back in the 60's and Republicans today.

That same military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, and JFK ran up against who wanted to go to war in Vietnam, is still in operation today pushing for no cuts in the defense department and for us to attack Iran in order to take out their nuclear capability and then on to Syria.  Some of these people have been advocating nuclear war with first Russia and now Iran since the early 60's.  The farther we went through the Museum, the more you became aware that we are seeing strands of that same mentality that existed in the 60's with the hawk crowd who are wealthy, get even wealthier from defense and oil and gas when you go to war, and think nothing of sending young men and now women into war.  Frightening to wake up and be back with the same mentality of the Koch Brothers father who helped found the John Birch Society and Ezra Taft Benson who were good friends.  Benson hated Eisenhower and went on to lead the Mormon Church while keeping in contact with the John Birchers.

Now with the election over and Obama about to be sworn in for four more years, he is now going forward with his choices to lead his foreign policy team of Kerry (State), Hagel (SecDef), and Brennan (CIA).  Hagel is being opposed by the same cabal that got us into  Iraq where we had no reason to be except a lot of defense contractors became even wealthier.  Now that same group wants to attack Syria?  Obama has other ideas and is nominating Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a one-time Republican who dared to criticize the Bush Administration for its Iraq policy, as the new Secretary of Defense.  Hagel essentially became a man without a Party after refusing to endorse John McCain for President with Palin as his VP.  Sound like he is pretty smart to me.

As a Vietnam foot soldier veteran, he saw the war up close and personal and it has affected his thinking when it comes to going into war when you are not attacked.  I fully support Chuck Hagel.   One thing I have admired about Hagel over the years is he is outspoken and not for sale which cannot be said about a lot of members of Congress today.  I have been very pleasantly surprised at how well SecDef Panetta has done but it is time for a change and for Obama to name his own person not a Clintonite.

A new day is dawning in the Obama Administration as we are about to see a different four years then the first four years.  Looks to me like it is only going to get better as Hagel understands the Defense Department and that we cannot afford to spend recklessly like we have been doing since 2001 driving up the deficit following 9/11.  The GOP foreign-policy establishment is about to get their heads handed to them and IMHO why Bolton, Cheney, and others are fighting the Hagel nomination.  Their Golden Goose is about to get its wings clipped.

This article from The Daily Beast by Peter Beinart is excerpted -- the original article is lengthy but well worth the read to illustrate what is happening in DC with the Hagel nomination being challenged by Republicans in the Senate:
What makes Hagel so important, and so threatening to the Republican foreign-policy elite, is that he is one of the few prominent Republican-aligned politicians and commentators (George Will and Francis Fukuyama are others, but such voices are rare) who was intellectually changed by Iraq. And Hagel was changed, in large measure, because he bore within him intellectual (and physical) scar tissue from Vietnam. As my former colleague John Judis captured brilliantly in a 2007 New Republic profile, the Iraq War sparked something visceral in Hagel, as the former Vietnam rifleman realized that, once again, detached and self-interested elites were sending working-class kids like himself to die in a war they couldn’t honestly defend. It is certainly true that some politicians who served in Vietnam—for instance, John McCain—did not react to Iraq that way. But it is also true that the fact that so few American politicians and pundits lived the kind of wartime hell Hagel endured made it easier for them to pass through the Iraq years unscathed. It’s no coincidence that the other senator most deeply enraged by Iraq was ex-Marine James Webb, another former hawkish Republican who saw the war through his own personal Vietnam prism.
After reading that paragraph from the Beinart article, I was thinking back to former Secretary of State Colin Powell who attempted to bring some reason and common sense to the Pres George W Bush Administration but he had to go against the Rumsfeld/Cheney hawks who eventually got us into Iraq with bad intelligence information that was presented to the United Nations.  President Eisenhower was right to warn Americans about the growing military/industrial complex as we are still seeing that growth today.  If Romney would have been elected, the growth would have gone unabated and bankrupted other programs like social security and medicare which this group of Republicans don't see as necessary.

It is a fact in the early 90's the mergers in the defense industry were so prevalent that the checks and balances that existed between mid size companies and the giants completely disappeared.  Never could figure out why Clinton along with Bush 41 pushed all the mergers giving huge payouts to executives of the companies to merge.  Today those merged positions make well over $20M a year which is obscene.  Why did the President of Lockheed Martin get a $2M pay raise last year when the F-35 is behind schedule and over budget?  You could say that is private industry but the money to pay the CEO comes in large part from defense contracts which are funded by the US taxpayers.

Fully support Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense as he brings a perspective to the position that has long been missing -- actual boots on the ground experience.   He is not a hawk on war but he is also not an isolationist.  With the people who are opposing Hagel, I am supporting him even more believing that President Obama has made an excellent choice for Secretary of Defense that he is announcing today.

Will President Obama finally be able to put his stamp on his foreign policy with the nomination of John Kerry as Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan as CIA Director?  Sure looks like that is the Obama plan and one we endorse:

Why Hagel Matters 
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.
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.

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. Hagel would be to the Obama administration what Dwight Eisenhower was in the 1950s, what Colin Powell was in the 1990s, and what, to some degree, ex-Mossad head Meir Dagan was in the Netanyahu government, the military man who bluntly reminds his colleagues that war, once unleashed, cannot be easily controlled. 
“Once you start” a war with Iran, Hagel told the Atlantic Council in 2010, “you’d better be prepared to find 100,000 troops, because it may take that.” You can’t say “it’ll be a limited warfare. I don’t think any nation can ever go into it that way.” For Hagel’s ex-friends in the Republican foreign-policy class, such a statement is kryptonite, because they know that given the American public’s weariness of war, a president who outlined the risks that way would have trouble gaining popular support. It’s also likely that Hagel’s position would be reinforced by the leaders of the uniformed military, some of whom have already expressed skepticism about bombing Iran. 
More generally, Hagel’s Republican critics realize that Iraq has changed his view of American power. To call Hagel an isolationist is silly. Unlike Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul, he is enthusiastic about international institutions and foreign aid. But Iraq and Afghanistan have convinced Hagel that boosting American military spending, and extending America’s global military footprint, can weaken national security if they drive America deeper into debt. Like his hero, Eisenhower, who slashed defense spending because, according to his Treasury secretary, he “feared deficits almost more than he feared the communists,” Hagel believes the defense budget must “be pared down,” because he refuses to divorce the conversation about military spending from the conversation about fiscal solvency. Unlike the Republican foreign-policy elite who for eight years cheered as the Bush administration charged its expansive “war on terror” to the nation’s credit card, Hagel does not view substantial cuts to the Bush-era defense budget as a retreat from American global power. To the contrary, he views them as essential to restoring the economic strength that must undergird that power. In that way as well, Hagel’s insistence on learning the lessons of the past 10 years would threaten the historical amnesia that governs Republican foreign policy. 
But that’s only half the story. Understanding why Hagel’s nomination could change the terms of foreign-policy debate also requires understanding the state of foreign-policy discourse in the Democratic Party. If the defining characteristic of Republican foreign-policy discourse in Washington today is amnesia, the defining Democratic characteristic is timidity. And Hagel would challenge that as well.
In the Democratic Party today, ascending to a top foreign-policy job is like ascending to a federal judgeship: the less you say that anyone could possibly disagree with, the better your chances. Partly, this is a residue of the hoary, and still extant, Democratic fear of being deemed insufficiently tough by the Republican right. During the Bush years, I attended some brainstorming sessions convened by Democratic-leaning think thanks and foundations aimed at rethinking party foreign policy, and what struck me was the degree to which Fox News had gotten inside people’s heads. It was virtually impossible to have a blue-sky conversation about, for instance, how seriously people took the threat from Al Qaeda terror, or whether they believed it possible to deter a nuclear Iran, without the conversation getting sidetracked by a discussion of whether even entertaining such questions was politically viable. 
In recent years, as the GOP’s post-Vietnam foreign-policy advantage has disappeared, Democratic fears of right-wing attack have eased somewhat. But the habits of caution, and the bias against provocative and independent thought, remains. Consider the fate of Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, two Brookings Institution scholars once considered top contenders for senior foreign-policy jobs in a Democratic administration. Instead, both men have remained at Brookings while their contemporaries cycle in and out of government. The reason? Pollack and O’Hanlon vocally supported invading Iraq, the former in a readable and influential book and the latter in a blunt interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox. That might make sense had the people who beat Pollack and O’Hanlon out for top jobs been vocal Iraq War opponents. But for the most part, Pollack and O’Hanlon were bested not by people who clearly opposed invading Iraq but by people who took no clear public position one way or another. That’s true of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who conducted four interviews with National Public Radio in the six months leading up to the war in which she made many sage comments but never revealed whether she supported the invasion. And it’s true of Hagel’s competitor for secretary of defense, Michèle Flournoy, a smart, well-qualified, decent woman who on March 4, 2003—15 days before the war began—conducted an online chat about Iraq with The Washington Post. I defy anyone to read it and determine whether she supported the war. 
When Obama won the presidency, some hoped that his example might alter this culture of caution. Obama had defeated Hillary Clinton, after all, in part because he made the risky decision to publicly oppose the Iraq War at a time when most other Democratic politicians were either supporting it or keeping their heads down. Early in the presidential campaign, Obama had also made unusually candid statements about Israel, noting that discussions of Israeli policy were “much more open ... in Israel than they are sometimes here in the United States” and that “there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel.” 
But ironically, the dynamic proved almost exactly the opposite. Precisely because Obama, from the very beginning, was considered vaguely edgy on foreign policy, he surrounded himself with advisers who gave him political cover. Thus, during the 2008 general election campaign, Obama made Dennis Ross, the Democratic Mideast hand most trusted by the “pro-Israel” right, his main spokesman on the issue rather than Daniel Kurtzer, who had endorsed Obama earlier but whose frank opposition to settlement growth as ambassador to Israel had made him less trusted in Jewish establishment circles. Or consider the Obama campaign’s treatment of former Clinton-administration national-security staffer Rob Malley. After leaving office, Malley had co-written a controversial essay arguing that Yasser Arafat was not solely to blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David peace talks and met (as a private citizen) with representatives of Hamas. In response, an Obama campaign aide privately pledged that Malley would not receive an administration job, and the campaign distributed an article by my old TNR boss Marty Peretz that praised Obama while calling Malley “a rabid hater of Israel.” Malley discovered what the campaign had done when the mass email containing Peretz’s article arrived in his inbox. 
This pattern of surrounding himself with advisers more cautious than himself continued once Obama took office. He made Hillary Clinton—the woman whose foreign-policy views he had derided as cautious and conventional during the campaign—his secretary of state. As national-security advisor he chose James Jones, a man who had twice been offered the job of deputy secretary of state in the Bush administration. At the Pentagon he kept on the Bush administration’s Robert Gates. A month into Obama’s presidency, when Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair selected Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council, Freeman quickly came under attack, largely for a series of comments about Israeli policy that, while harshly critical, would not have been out of place in Haaretz. After two weeks without any show of support from the White House, Freeman withdrew his nomination. 
Partly as a result of these personnel decisions, Obama’s foreign policy—while often operationally skillful—has left unchallenged many of the assumptions made “mainstream” by George W. Bush. Obama has never questioned Bush’s insistence that Iran cannot be deterred, even though deterrence was crucial to America’s strategy against China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He has abandoned his promise to close Guantánamo Bay. And during the debate over the Afghan surge, when Obama grew skeptical of David Petraeus’s push for 40,000 new troops, his top cabinet secretaries constrained rather than encouraged his heretical thoughts. In his book Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward reports that Hillary Clinton, along with Robert Gates, played a key role in “diminishing the president’s running room. She had reduced his cover for any decision with significantly fewer troops.” 
All of which makes the Hagel pick so important. Unlike John Kerry, whose political caution has smoothed the way for a virtually uncontested secretary-of-state nomination, Hagel says in public what others only say in private. In his 2005 book, The Much Too Promised Land, former Clinton administration Middle East hand Aaron Miller notes that “of all my conversations [about the Israel debate in Congress], the one with Hagel stands apart for its honesty and clarity.” That’s because when Hagel told Miller that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” he was saying the same thing that people who work in Congress and the executive branch say all the time. As Thomas Friedman has noted, “I am certain that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policy makers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel.” But the operative word is quietly. I’ve also heard many government officials, some of them Jewish, say things similar to what Hagel is now being flayed for having told Miller. The difference is that those other officials first confirmed that they were speaking off the record. One even lowered his voice and closed the door. 
Hagel’s uncommon honesty isn’t restricted to Israel. Among the statements that critics now decry is Hagel’s 2007 declaration that “People say we’re not fighting for oil [in Iraq]. Of course we are.” In The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol calls Hagel’s statement “vulgar and disgusting.” What Kristol doesn’t note is that the same article that quotes Hagel also quotes noted radical Alan Greenspan saying virtually the same thing. The difference: Greenspan said it in his memoir, published once he was safely retired from government service. 
As John Judis notes, Hagel was considered a plausible Republican presidential candidate in 2008 until his blunt criticism of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies ended his career in the GOP. He is, therefore, one of the very few public figures in recent memory—Joe Lieberman, whose blunt support for the Bush administration’s Iraq policies ended his career in the Democratic Party, is another—to have forfeited a national role in his political party because of his policy views. In the process, Hagel has incurred the wrath of the same hawkish “pro-Israel” forces whose influence he was rash enough to acknowledge. He has done, in short, exactly what people who aspire to jobs like secretary of defense in Democratic administrations learn not to do. If Barack Obama nominates him anyway, it will be the greatest blow in years to the culture of timidity that dominates the Democratic foreign-policy class. As one former Obama administration official puts it, “Before, when 25-year-olds came to me for career advice, I would tell them, ‘You should be very circumspect, very cautious.’ After Hagel, I would say it’s OK to have strong, even divisive opinions.” 
Barack Obama has been commander in chief for nearly four years, but in important ways, the Obama era in American foreign policy has not yet begun. It will begin when Democrats express their foreign-policy views as fearlessly as do their Republican counterparts and when those Republican counterparts can no longer impose their historical amnesia about the catastrophes of the last 10 years on public debate. It will begin when the American right can no longer marginalize public officials with whom it disagrees about Iran by hurling charges of anti-Semitism with a promiscuity that would make Al Sharpton blush. It will begin when Obama surrounds himself with advisers more interested in shifting the foreign-policy “mainstream” than parroting it. It will begin when Obama declares independence from the Bush-era assumptions that have so far constrained his foreign policy. And with luck, we will one day look back upon Chuck Hagel’s nomination as the day it did.
Please read the full story on "Why Chuck Hagel Matters" at the Daily Beast.  It is an eye opener.

Sometimes you have to take the blinders off and see the real world not the world we have been fed by the politicians and the military/industrial complex for years.  I have been trying to figure out what type of Republican I am and can now say "Eisenhower" Republican fits me perfectly.  He was my hero growing up and still is today.  Dwight Eisenhower stood for the American people of all races just not whites and realized what war could do to a Nation and its youth.  President Kennedy was following in the footsteps of Eisenhower not to escalate the troops in Vietnam when he was assassinated.  What would have happened to this Country if JFK had lived and LBJ had never been President?  We will never know, but would bet thousands of American families would not have lost loved ones in Vietnam.

We cannot make the same mistake of Vietnam and Iraq by going into war with Iran or Syria where we have no business except it will make defense contractors wealthy by allowing the hawks to run the Government and give out those huge defense contracts.   Can you say Halliburton?

Time to see what President Obama does with his own appointees.  I am willing to give him a chance and so should every American IMHO.

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