Political Animal


January 07, 2013 11:21 AM Hagel and the National Security “Consensus”

By Ed Kilgore

Before discussion of the Hagel nomination as Defense Secretary becomes totally a matter of partisan Kabuki, and/or revolves around ancient offensive quotes from the Nebraskan about “the Jewish Lobby” or LGBT folk, I hope we can gain some insights about the man’s actual thinking on the basics of national security policy. Here’s an expression of similar hope from Jamelle Bouie writing at WaPo’s Plum Line:

[T]he Hagel pick is in one sense controversial. If the Washington consensus on foreign policy leans heavily toward intervention and expansion of the national security state, then Hagel is one of a small handful of lawmakers in recent memory who have questioned the assumptions underlying both. He was a vocal critic of the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s adoption of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and has shown real independence on how the United States should approach its relationship to Israel.
Hagel represents a nod towards bipartisanship, in the sense that he’s a Republican. At the same time, however, the choice challenges the bipartisan establishment consensus on how America should conduct itself in the world. This is ultimately what makes Obama’s choice so interesting, and confounding to those who would reflexively oppose it for partisan reasons.

It would be nice if Hagel’s confirmation hearings get into these more basic questions, particularly at a time when we should be wondering if the Pentagon would get along just fine with a post-sequester appropriation. But I’m not holding my breath.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • stormskies on January 07, 2013 11:44 AM:

    As a Viet-nam veteran myself I can only fully support Chuck Hagel because once you have been through actual combat you have zero tolerance full bullshit and political fucking games.

    It's fucking stunning that the spurned drag queen called LINDSAY graham is once again manifesting her hysterical criticism of Hagel. A drag queen who has never seen combat, a drag queen who wears dresses in private, criticizing a combat veteran who has a purple heart.

    Of itself this is really the highest recommendation for Hagel to be confirmed.

  • Mimikatz on January 07, 2013 12:07 PM:

    The challenge to the GOPs and neocons in the Hagel nomination is welcome. I look forward particularly to questions from Graham. The slurs against Jim Hormel are troubling, but people do change. The real question is whether he has the managerial skills and credibility to make the cuts that will be needed at Defense. But having a real combat veteran in charge of the Generals will be a good thing.

  • john sherman on January 07, 2013 12:14 PM:

    What I don't understand is why people who are America firsters and think we should do whatever we want in the world are so eager to outsource our Middle East policy to a conservative Israeli government that is not particularly popular with its own people.

  • KK on January 07, 2013 3:16 PM:

    Hey, if u r gonna delete spam please delete my nonsense response to it.

  • salem progressive on January 07, 2013 4:23 PM:

    Does anyone else think that Hagel could be smart political triangulation by Obama? I think by having a recent Republican Senator from RINO hotbed Nebraska take public abuse from his former Rep. colleauges in the Senate just screams to the public that tea party extremism is running the Senate as well as the House. And if you want something else stop electing Republicans that claim to be bipartisan during elections and then shower hate upon former colleagues for minor steps towards moderation.