Peter Feaver is right when he says that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's performance would not make the top 10 list of national security woes plaguing this administration. In the "don't do stupid stuff" category, he is a star player compared with the rest of the national security team. And viewed from Asia, particularly our allies, his departure will cause as much angst as head-scratching. A frequent refrain from allied officials in the region these days is something along the lines of, "Well, at least we can work with the Pentagon for the next two years since they actually want to get things done."
"Scapegoat," the term Peter Feaver employed in reacting to the firing of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, actually was a goat that the Bible tells us carried the sins of the Israelites with it as it was sent off to meet its death in the desert. And scapegoat is the perfect simile for this decent man who never had a chance in the dysfunctional Obama administration. His performance at his confirmation hearings notwithstanding, Hagel performed creditably as secretary, despite the fact that, like Jim Jones, he was shut out of the president's inner circle from his very first day in office.
"In the case of Iran getting the bomb, I've always assumed that the roughly 200 weapons ... in Pakistan now were rent-a-bombs for Saudi Arabia -- that the moment Saudi Arabia sees that the Iranians have the bomb ... they'll use their Hertz preferred credit thing to get a couple of bombs sent over." -- Sen. Mark Kirk to Foreign Policy Initiative, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Bipartisan Policy Center briefing on Capitol Hill, Nov. 20, 2014
The news that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down has been foreshadowed for weeks, so it does not qualify as a shock. But neither does it qualify as an obvious and logical next move for an administration so clearly struggling to manage myriad foreign policy challenges.
Three weeks have passed since Jeffrey Goldberg reported that unnamed "senior Administration officials" had called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chicken$@#" and "a coward." Now that the shock has worn off, it is possible to assess the remark's significance for U.S. foreign policy.