What Hagel Said to Impress Obama
Bob Woodward: Hagel is Obama's foreign policy 'soul mate'
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 28, 2013 9:49 AM CST
Barack Obama shakes hands with Chuck Hagel, after announcing Hagel's nomination for defense secretary in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2013.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(Newser) – Why did President Obama pick Chuck Hagel as his new secretary of defense? It all goes back to a never-reported conversation Hagel had with Obama right after his first term as president began, Bob Woodward reports in a Washington Post column. Obama asked Hagel his thoughts on foreign policy and defense. Hagel replied: "We are at a time where there is a new world order. We don't control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they"—the military and diplomats—"tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date."

"You need to question our role," Hagel went on. "You need to question what are we using the military for." He also warned Obama not to get "bogged down" in Afghanistan. The conversation established Hagel as Obama's "soul mate" on defense matters, Woodward writes. Both believe that the US must scale back its global role and avoid massive ground wars, while maintaining the threat of war as a diplomatic tool. Still, they don't always agree; Hagel was not pleased with Obama's 2009 Afghanistan surge decision. "The president has not had commander-in-chief control of the Pentagon since Bush senior was president," he privately remarked. Click for Woodward's full column.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
What Hagel Said to Impress Obama is...
0%
16%
0%
74%
6%
4%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 8 comments
reallybig
Jan 28, 2013 7:27 PM CST
WHAT? ...... Did Hagel impress Obama by telling him, he had a 'real' birth certificate, and a 'real' degree, and not one of those phony birth certificates, and minority Ivy League degrees from Harvard? --------- REALLY?
ApolitickalExtremist
Jan 28, 2013 2:00 PM CST
Obama is the President of war, this is ridiculous.
RogerMohajir
Jan 28, 2013 12:15 PM CST
"You must question everything, every assumption, everything they"—the military and diplomats—"tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date." This may have impressed Obama at the time (2009), but apparently it didn't make any kind of lasting impression. Obama,like most presidents who lack a military background, has questioned almost nothing that the military has told him -- leading him into the Afghan "surge" and the crimes against humanity program known as "drones." No member of his foreign policy or national security team (including Hagel) has had a new idea based on a new assumption of how the world works in decades. All they've done is implement a search-and-replace on the same old playbook, substituting "Islamist" for "Communist."