On January 14th, the liberal DefenseNews.com website published an editorial titled “Hagel for Secretary of Defense”, which called on the Senate to confirm the liberal RINO ex-Senator Chuck Hagel and tried to refute the charges made against him.
But this attempt to refute these charges has utterly failed, because DefenseNews staff (which wrote the editorial) utterly failed to refute these (factually correct) accusations against Hagel (which are based on Hagel’s own words and actions) with any facts. Instead of invoking the facts – which are unfavorable for Hagel – DefenseNews.com made a number of utterly false claims in his defense.
The three accusations it specifically tried (and failed) to refute were that:
1) Hagel is so pacifist that he doesn’t want the US to strike Iran even if (or rather when) this proves necessary;
2) The former Nebraska Senator is hostile (or at least, unfriendly) to Israel; and
3) That he advocates deep, crippling defense budget cuts.
As to the first charge, DefenseNews.com claims that Hagel is merely very wary of bombing Iran, or indeed of any new military interventions anywhere. But that’s not what Hagel himself has said. What Hagel has said is that a military option WRT to Iran “is not a feasible option, is not a responsible option.” Those are his words, not mine. In other words, he effectively stated that he’s completely opposed to the idea and believes it would be a bad option under any circumstances. He effectively stated that it should be completely ruled out (what would you do with a nonfeasible, irresponsible option, if not rule it out?).
DefenseNews.com is simply lying to whitewash Hagel.
On Israel, DefenseNews.com admits that it’s a “very important” friend, but simoultaneously claims that “this doesn’t mean that Israel should be allowed to dictate” US policy or that it should be allowed to take “actions which are not in the best long-term interests of Israel”.
Thus, not only do they falsely claim that Israel dictates US policies, they claim THEY know better than Israelis themselves what is in the best long-term interests of Israel!
Such unbrindled arrogance is very rare.
Only the Israelis themselves know what’s best for Israel in the long term.
DefenseNews.com editors are simply pretending to be friends of Israel when they’re not. They have invented a figleaf to cover themselves and Chuck Hagel.
In any way, again, this is not what Hagel’s anti-Israel diatribes were about. Hagel falsely claimed that there is a “Jewish lobby” which “intimidates a lot of people up here [in the Senate]”; he voted against designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization; he refused to sign a letter calling on the EU to apply the same designation to Hezbollah; he has called for direct talks with Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran; and in 1999, he was the SOLE US Senator refusing to sign a letter calling on the President of Russia to act against anti-Semitism in Russia.
This is not about allowing Israel to “dictate US policy”. This is about Hagel’s strident opposition to apply even the most lenient punishment to Islamic terrorist organizations and to fighting anti-Semitism.
On the third charge, DefenseNews.com again blatantly lied to whitewash Hagel, and in so doing, it effectively confirmed the veracity of the charge. DefenseNews.com falsely claims that “The truth is, the DOD is bloated.” No, it’s not “the truth”, it’s their claim – and it’s utterly false. The military budget is not bloated – at $633 bn (per the FY2013 NDAA) it amounts to only 4.2% of America’s GDP ($15.29 trillion per the CIA World Factbook) and less than 18% of the total federal budget. This includes the Afghan war and spending on defense-related programs outside the DOD. The base defense budget, $525 bn, amounts to only 3.5% of GDP and less than 14% of the total federal budget.
Judged against the gravity of the threats America is facing, the defense budget is not bloated, either – far from it. If anything, it’s barely adequate considering the security threats America is facing, especially the huge nuclear arsenals and military buildups of Russia and China, North Korea’s nascent nuclear/ICBM arsenal and large conventional army, and Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
I have written about the capabilities of America’s enemies, and especially those of China and Russia, numerous times on my website and here; my most recent detailed analysis of the subject appeared here and my analysis of the defense budget’s size is here. These analyses describe the capabitilies of America’s adversaries in detail and thus document that America cannot afford further defense cuts, because to disarm in the face of such threats would be suicidal.
I repeat: this is an analysis of America’s defense spending in comparison to the threats it is facing, not based on any percentages of GDP or of the federal budget.
DefenseNews.com falsely claims that “Hagel knows that cuts and reforms are necessary to fielding a leaner, but still capable force.” That is also a blatant lie. Firstly, defense budget cuts are not necessary to fielding such a “force” (and please don’t call it a “force”; call it properly a MILITARY); if anything, they would impair such an effort, because if defense is underfunded (i.e. if there isn’t enough money for a properly sized military, for training, the maintenance of existing equipment and bases, or for the development and acquisition of new equipment), the military will not be “capable” – it will be gutted.
Furthermore, it’s not enough for the US military to be “capable” – it needs to be THE most capable and THE strongest in the world. But it won’t be if further significant defense cuts are made – contrary to what the proponents of these cuts (all of whom are hostile to the military and to the idea of a strong defense) may tell you.
Budget cuts are not necessary to make the DOD leaner (as in more efficient) – if anything, they will impair that effort, because as history has shown, the DOD is actually most efficient when it has a sizeable budget (as during the Reagan years) and most inefficient when its budget is actually deeply cut – because deep budget cuts lead to deep cuts in readiness programs (which lead to an unready military that can function only on paper), acquisition programs (leading to deep cuts in orders and long delays, and thus to huge cost overruns for a lack of economies of scale – weapons are cheaper to buy by the dozen) and research programs.
Furthermore, again, “fielding a leaner but still capable force” is not what Hagel has talked about. What he HAS talked about is simply cutting the defense budget deeply and mindlessly.
Moreover, a “leaner” (as in smaller) military will be able to go to far fewer places, do far fewer things, and deter far fewer enemies. WRT China, it might not be able to deter Beijing at all, due to insufficient numbers – as the Chinese, who have always valued numerical strength, know very well. The US Navy, for example, is already too small: it can supply only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships and only 61% of their requests for submarines.
Also, DefenseNews.com falsely claimed that “waste there [in the DOD] saps resources from more important priorities”, while not identifying what it believes to be those higher priorities. In any case, they’re dead wrong. They got it backwards. Under the Constitution, DEFENSE is to be the highest priority for the federal government – not education, healthcare, or the infrastructure. In fact, the US military is the ONLY significant federal expenditure authorized by the Constitution. The Big Three entitlement programs, the Departments of Education, Energy, Agriculture, HHS, and HUD, the EPA, and subsidies for businesses are completely unconstitutional as they are outside the scope of the federal government’s Constitutional powers. Such programs and agencies exist only because the federal government continues to violate the Constitution.
But what was most remarkable was what DefenseNews.com chose not to address at all.
Firstly, that leftist website’s editors chose to be mute over Hagel’s utterly disqualifying “Global Zero” plan to dramatically and unilaterally slash America’s nuclear deterrent (including completely scrapping all 450 USAF ICBMs, the cheapest and most ready leg of the nuclear triad) while Russia and China both retain huge nuclear arsenals (Russia alone has 2,800 strategic and 2,000-4,000 tactical nuclear warheads, all of them deliverable at any moment; China has at least 1,800 and up to 3,000 nuclear warheads according to Professor Philip Karber and former Russian missile force chief of staff Gen. Viktor Yesin).
Secondly, DefenseNews editors completely avoided any mention of Hagel’s utter lack of the experience and skills required of a Defense Secretary. Hagel has never managed any large organization – whether in the business world, the academia, the government, or the military. He has never run any large business, any university, any military division/Air Force Wing/Fleet, or any government agency. Nor has he done any analysis of the defense issues facing America, written anything remarkable in his book, or scored any significant legislative accomplishment when he was a Senator. His ability to act as the DOD’s chief executive is completely untested.
He’s the least qualified nominee for Secretary of Defense since at least Melvin Laird. His immediate three predecessors – Panetta, Gates, and Rumsfeld – were all far more qualified than him. It’s interesting and indeed outrageous that Obama (himself completely green when he was elected President) chose Hagel over other, far more qualified candidates such as Deputy SECDEF Ashton Carter and former DOD #3 official Michele Flournoy.
It is the Senate’s constitutional power, and indeed it’s constitutional DUTY, to reject unqualified nominees for high office. And if there ever was an unqualified nominee, Hagel is that person.