National Security

DoD Secretary — Slim Pickings

It's been a week since Hagel's firing with no replacement in sight.

Dec. 2, 2014

It has been a week since the resignation/ouster of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and yet there still appears to be no clear choice for Barack Obama as to who should next head the Pentagon. The reasons for this are many.

Rather than speculate on the next secretary, perhaps the question should be: Who would want to be the next Pentagon chief? Certainly there is a pool of people from which Obama could choose, but those who should be considered for the position won’t be, and several potential candidates have already declined.

For example, Michèle Flournoy was seen by many policy pundits as the frontrunner for the job, as she served as undersecretary of defense from 2009 to 2012. She could have been the first female appointed to the position, but she declined. Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed was also viewed as an option to succeed Hagel, but he plans to stay right where he is.

Another potential replacement is former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, an academic considered to be an expert on budgets and weapons in the Pentagon. However, there are two problems. First, Carter is an expert on budgets, of which Obama knows little beyond cutting the defense budget for America’s military while breaking the bank for everything else. Second, Carter is considered to be an aggressive and independent thinker, and, he admits, “I do not think they are looking for someone more aggressive and independent.”

Update 12/2 at 11:45 a.m.: USA TODAY reports that Carter is the likely nominee.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey notes that Obama will likely pick a “technocrat without much political pull in Washington DC,” or perhaps put forward DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. Morrissey asks, “Who else would want a job where all of the blame would fall on his or her shoulders for a set of policies over which he or she would have little influence?”

National Review’s John Fund likewise observes, “Too many people view it as a job not worth having in an atmosphere where the White House manages everything.” Fund explains that no one wants to contend with the likes of National Security Advisor Susan Rice, “who exercises an iron grip on key aspects of foreign policy,” or White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, “who seems to have both hands in every pie at the White House.”

Furthermore, who would want to tag team with Secretary of State John Kerry, who deems that climate change is our biggest national-security threat? Well, besides Hagel, who shared that view.

Anyone with any sense recognizes that Obama’s foreign policy is a failure and is devastating to our nation, and anyone who even attempts to voice dissent against the president is pushed away.

It would be refreshing for Obama to tap someone for the Pentagon post who understands the threat of the Islamic State and other terrorist networks around the world. It would be desirable if Obama would choose someone who understands the geopolitical threat Russia presents to the world. It would be wonderful if he would pick a person who would strengthen the U.S. military and put an end to the leftist social engineering that weakens troop morale and unit readiness. However, the prospect of such a choice is dim.

Based on the record this president and his administration have established over the last six years, during which time three people have held the Pentagon post, the likelihood of Obama picking the right person now is slim to none. Even if the right person were picked, would he or she want to serve for the next two years under this president and his policy failures? It’s unlikely, but we can hope – better yet pray – for change.

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