Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hagel and Iran

President Obama has nominated ex-Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. Since this was a long time coming - the notion had been floated a good month or more before it actually occurred - opponents and proponents of Hagel's candidacy have lined up to savage and laud him, respectively.... His opponents ostensible concerns: "... They fear that Hagel will cut the military budget. They fear that he’ll roll over if Iran builds a nuclear weapon. They fear that he’s too reluctant to use military force generally. And they fear he doesn’t much like Israel; the extremists on this point claim he’s anti-Semitic..." 

On the other side, many support a Hagel nomination precisely because they feel it reduces the likelihood of an armed confrontation with Iran. Unfortunately, I believe that this is not the case, and that they are sorely mistaken in this regard. I'd draw a parallel with the role of Colin Powell in the Bush presidency when it came to the war with Iraq. Many were beating the drums for war with Iraq, and one of the few resisting appeared to be Colin Powell (yes, he was Secretary of State and not Defense, but that's an inconsequential difference), who was pushing for action via the United Nations. However, when Powell was won over to the 'war faction' it undercut the war's opponents and was a powerful force in favor of military action, precisely because of his initial opposition!

Hagel as Secretary of Defense may well play an analogous role - regardless of Hagel's supposed current predilection against military action in the context of Iran, the decision is the President's. It seems much more likely that in the face of a Presidential decision to engage in military action, Hagel would be unlikely to resign and oppose this publicly; and a Hagel going along with and supporting action would severely undercut those opposed to such a move.  

The bottom line? Does Hagel as Secretary of Defense reduce the likelihood of an armed conflict with Iran? Probably not so much!

Some links:
Chuck Hagel and His Enemies
6 Reasons Obama Chose Chuck Hagel
The Real Reasons Republicans Hate Hagel
Hagel, the Enemy of Liberals' Enemies, Shouldn't be Their Friend 
Colin Powell: Chuck Hagel ‘superbly qualified’ to be defense secretary

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Best places to be born...

Source: The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013

No thank you...

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