Chuck Hagel’s tenure as defense secretary isn’t turning out the way anyone expected — especially him.
After he emerged, politically battered, from his confirmation process a year and a half ago, the road ahead looked clear: Here was an old Senate pal of President Barack Obama whose assignment was to superintend a shrinking defense budget, a smaller military and fewer adventures overseas. Here was a guy who, despite his command of the world’s most powerful military, ranked himself as lower in importance than the secretaries of state, treasury and the attorney general.
Here was a guy who last year became one of the loudest voices of caution as the president and Congress contemplated attacking Syria. Damascus has some of the most formidable air defenses in the Middle East, Hagel said. A military campaign could take months or more. Washington would be opening Pandora’s box, he warned.