Magazine article The American Conservative

Why Fire Chuck Hagel?

Magazine article The American Conservative

Why Fire Chuck Hagel?

Article excerpt

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran and the lone Republican on Obamas national security team, has been fired. And John McCain's assessment is dead on. Hagel, he said, "was never really brought into that real tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions which has put us into the incredible debacle that were in today throughout the world."

Undeniably, U.S. foreign policy is in a shambles. But what were the "decisions" that produced the "incredible debacle"? Who made them? Who supported them?

The first would be George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq, a war for which Sens. John McCain, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton all voted. At least Senator Hagel admitted he made a mistake on that vote. With our invasion, we dethroned Saddam and destroyed his Sunni Baathist regime. And today the Islamic State, a barbaric offshoot of al-Qaeda, controls Mosul, Anbar, and the Sunni third of Iraq. Kurdistan is breaking away. And a Shia government in Baghdad, closely tied to Tehran and backed by murderous anti-American Shia militias, controls the rest. Terrorism is a daily occurrence.

Such is the condition of the nation which we were promised would become a model of democracy for the Middle East after a "cake-walk war." The war lasted eight years for us, and now we are going back-to prevent a catastrophe.

A second decision came in 2011, when a rebellion arose against Bashar Assad in Syria, and we supported and aided the uprising. Assad must go, said Obama. McCain and the neocons agreed. Now ISIS and al-Qaeda are dominant from Aleppo to the Iraqi border with Assad barely holding the rest, while the rebels we urged to rise and overthrow the regime are routed or in retreat.

Had Assad fallen, had we bombed his army last year, as Obama, Kerry, and McCain wanted to do, and brought down his regime, ISIS and al-Qaeda might be in Damascus today. And America might be facing a decision either to invade or tolerate a terrorist regime in the heart of the Middle East.

Lest we forget, Vladimir Putin pulled our chestnuts out of the fire a year ago, with a brokered deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons. The Turks, Saudis, and Gulf Arabs who aided ISIS's rise are having second thoughts, but sending no Saudi or Turkish troops to dislodge it. So the clamor arises anew for U.S. "boots on the ground" to reunite the nations that the wars and revolutions we supported tore apart. …

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