On the one hand, it makes sense why the White House needed to leak so emphatically this morning that Hagel’s departure was “under pressure” and not an amicable split. First, Hagel and his people were saying that he had initiated the split over his frustrations with the White House, and the president’s aides no doubt felt that such a narrative needed a strong response.
Yesterday, speaking at an international confab of defense ministers in Peru, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled his department’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. A letter from Hagel asserts at the beginning of the Roadmap that:
While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projections, uncertainty remains. But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action. Every day, our military deals with global uncertainty. Our planners know that, as military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote, “all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight.”
Clausewitz, indeed. Side note: this quotation from the great 19th century German theorist of warfare appears to come from the translation of Colonel J.J. Graham, who, sadly, passed away in 1883, his edition have since been superseded by numerous quality 20th century translations. I like to picture Secretary Hagel composing his introduction to the Roadmap late at night in an elegantly appointed Northern Virginia study, perhaps by a roaring fire—strike that: too much carbon—with a snifter of brandy near at hand, suddenly reaching for his dog-eared and much beloved Graham translation of On War. Sure, his aides make gentle fun of this stubborn refusal to consult more contemporary editions—but the old fox is set in his ways.
Sixteen military transport planes bought by the United States government for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at a cost of nearly $500 million were recently destroyed by the Afghan military and sold for scrap parts at around 6 cents per pound, prompting a government inquiry to determine why millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on the ill-fated program.
President Obama’s decision to announce the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap in a triumphant Rose Garden appearance suggests the White House had no inkling of the broad public skepticism that would follow.
On Monday, USA Today published a poll showing that more Americans oppose the Bergdahl trade than support it. That same day, administration official told members of Congress it was Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and not Obama, who made the final call.
That’s odd, given that Hagel himself said over the weekend that Obama “made the ultimate decision,” and Hagel merely “signed off” on it.