Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Chuck Hagel, the casualty of US national security shakeup

Javan, a Tehran-based daily, brings under focus the sudden resignation of US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and how it can impact Washington's security policies down the line.

The resignation of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and speculations as to who is in the frame to replace him were headlines in the Western media outlets, but the story caught the attention of a few newspapers in Iran.

Javan newspaper filed an opinion piece on November 26 by Dr. Seyyed Reza Mir-Taher on the resignation of the US defense secretary and rumors surrounding his departure which said he may have been sacked to signal a change of course in Washington and inject fresh blood into the Obama team’s failed security and foreign policy strategy. The following is the translation of parts of the piece:


Javan newspaper 11 - 26Resignation of defense chief Chuck Hagel is viewed as an unprecedented military event in the US in recent years and shows the administration of Barack Obama – a Democratic president – is nowhere near strong. It also reveals that there are huge gaps in the US government over security and defense issues.

Some reports have even gone further saying that President Obama had earlier asked Hagel, the only Republican on his security team, to step down.

Hagel is to stay in the job until a new Pentagon chief takes charge. It was almost two years ago when the now-outgoing defense secretary took over, and he is now ceding the leadership of the Pentagon. This comes as the US security strategy [which has provoked sharp debates within the administration] has come under fire more than ever, especially the White House’s handling of the Afghan war, and the way it has chosen to tackle the ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria.

The buildup of such pressures has made Obama turn a page on a national security policy. […]

Hagel was appointed at the top of the Pentagon to oversee a shift to a peacetime military and reduced defense spending of the US military. […]

The United States is now back at war in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and Mr. Obama apparently decided that he could no longer depend on Mr. Hagel to lead US policies in these fights.

The fact that Hagel locks horns with the other senior military and security officials in Washington over how to take on ISIL and how to militarily deal with the Syrian question is said to be one key factor in pressuring him to leave office.


At strategy sessions in the White House Situation Room, Hagel was often at odds with [four-star] generals over the US policies in Iraq and Syria. One major question which mainly divided the secretary and generals at the Pentagon was what military course of action Washington was to take in Syria and Iraq. […]

But Hagel was not the core of the Obama administration’s military and security problem. That, analysts say, lies with the US national security policy that has often been proved inefficient in reaction to mounting international challenges such as the unstable situation in Syria and Afghanistan. To be honest, one should admit that the US was mired in confusion from the beginning of the Syrian crisis. […]

Hagel’s resignation could signal a possible change of heart at the White House as far as a US security strategy goes or it may indicate that Washington is seeking to adopt tougher policies.

Now the White House needs a new leader at the Pentagon, one who can advance the new US strategy, although it is still unclear if this strategy can put an end to the back-to-back US security failures.

A more aggressive defense secretary will have Mr. Obama’s full confidence and can better deal with the crises the US is facing, especially those in the Middle East region.

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