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Polityka, Poland

Chuck Hagel: New US Secretary of
Defense, Republican Prick of Conscience

By Łukasz Wójcik

Translated By Michał Bolek

8 Janurary 2013

Edited by Heather Martin

Poland - Polityka - Original Article (Polish)

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, but his Monday decision to appoint Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense inspires respect.

It’s not even because Hagel may turn out to be a great secretary, though it’s difficult to find in Washington a candidate that would be better prepared for this position. Hagel’s nomination is, above all, Obama’s political masterstroke. For the next four years, the new secretary will be a living prick of conscience for the Republican Party, whose foreign policy ideas border on the grotesque, which Hagel himself proves [through stances he has held in the past].

If one is to believe leaks from the White House, the new secretary will have to make big cutbacks at the Pentagon. If Obama had chosen a Democrat for this task, the right wing would have lynched him at the first opportunity, accusing him of exposing the country to danger and simply a lack of patriotism. With Hagel, that’s not possible. He still belongs to the Republican Party, and he proved his attachment to the motherland in Vietnam — to this day he has shrapnel in his chest from that time. At the same time, he believes that the U.S. military is absurdly “bloated,” which can hardly be denied, taking into consideration that its present budget is just slightly lower than in Reagan’s times.

However, Hagel’s nomination is not just a defense against the Republicans, but also an attack on them. Though he voted for the American intervention in Iraq in 2003, he criticized President Bush many times for its implementation, and he regarded the intervention as one of the biggest failures in the history of U.S. foreign policy today. The Republicans behave as if the war in Iraq was a great success and further proof that the best way to conduct foreign policy is invasions and preventive attacks, from which the conclusion can be drawn that Iran, also, should be bombed at last. Chuck Hagel’s existence inconveniently shatters this line of thought that is obvious for many Republicans, and his nomination guarantees that if the decision must be made, somebody in the White House will say aloud that an attack on Iran is stupid.

Hagel is waiting now for the difficult Senate hearings and vote on his nomination, but after the failure of Susan Rice’s candidacy for secretary of state, Barack Obama wouldn’t risk the next nomination if he wasn’t sure that the Senate would accept it.



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