The Hagel Trap


Desperation can make people do strange things. Obama’s election was like a neutron bomb to the majority of the antiwar Left, with too many of the former eloquent critics of "W" suddenly twisting themselves into inhuman intellectual contortions to explain why drones in Yemen/Pakistan, targeted killing of American citizens, and arming al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria were both humanitarian and patriotic.

The rest of those opposed to empire were left desperate and grasping. Many initially sung hosannas to Obama claiming he was an antiwar alternative we could get behind. That didn’t turn out too well. To their credit some of those soon realized their mistake, but the intellectually dangerous impulse to seek salvation in a personality lingered – the temptation of a short-cut to the promised land.

Which leads us to former Senator Chuck Hagel, who far too many in the remnant of the antiwar, anti-empire movement have taken to praising as if with his nomination – expected tomorrow – the war party would be defeated.

It is a trap.

Hagel is the perfect choice for Obama if he wants to actually expand militarism: Hagel’s peace/anti-empire backers will be silenced when Hagel does as he is told (as he must) and continues, possibly expands, the disastrous policies of this administration. Do they really believe that the employee will force his drone-a-holic employer to suspend what has become the centerpiece of his foreign policy? What are Hagel’s backers going to do when he does as he must, as a man who serves at the pleasure of a president who believes he has the Constitutional authority to draw up a "kill list" of Americans? Will they start denouncing the very person they demanded get the job in the first place? How foolish would that look? How ineffective.

Be careful what you ask for. And don’t forget that among the others asking are those like the Podesta Group, who are currently making a killing on all the killing they supported in Serbia under their former boss, former president Clinton.

And if Obama decides to invade Iran (or anywhere else) there are two things a Defense Secretary Hagel can do: 1) be a good soldier and carry out to the best of his abilities the command of his commander in chief (call it the the Colin Powell UN option); or 2) resign in protest, which simply does not happen in these days. What then? Haven’t we been here before?

I think it is a losing proposition to put faith in a Hagel nomination when the real problem is our foreign policy – which is neither set by Hagel nor controlled by him. He is a good man in many ways to be sure. And that the Lindsey Grahams of the world despise him make it all the more tempting to sign those petitions. But in the end it will prove the timeless axiom of the all-time champion of politics, who said "the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves."