Why Chuck Hagel Is Gone
[su_right_ad]There are various reasons for the end of Chuck Hagel’s stint as Defense Secretary.
The first kind are policy failures, and they’re not insignificant. In Afghanistan, Hagel failed to gain enough ground against the Taliban to force them to accept some kind of peace deal; instead, the Taliban sees itself as winning outright and is largely ignoring American negotiators. In Egypt, Hagel took the lead in trying to convince defense minister Abdel Fatah el-Sisi not to depose Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected president in a coup; Hagel failed and the coup went ahead. In Iraq and Syria, Hagel failed to devise a strategy that would prevent the rise of ISIS or that would roll it back. In Ukraine, Hagel has not contributed to the effort to roll back or deter Russia’s still-ongoing invasion. In Hagel’s defense, he is not the lead on Russia and the Afghanistan policy was failing before he took office, but ISIS and Egypt are definitely under his purview.
The second of failures, though, are bureaucratic, and that’s more important than you might think. In some ways, Hagel’s biggest job is to be the Pentagon’s representative to the White House and to Congress, as well as to bring White House-set policy to the Pentagon. Hagel didn’t really succeed at either. He was viewed skeptically in the Pentagon as an ineffective representative and manager who failed to advocate on behalf of the vast institution that is the US military. Within the White House discussions that set American foreign policy, he was lax and ineffective, known as not good at steering debate or contributing. The New York Times writes, damningly, “Hagel has often had problems articulating his thoughts — or administration policy — in an effective manner.”[su_csky_ad]