National Security

Hagel's Case for Obama's Failure

The former defense secretary slams his boss on Syria policy.

Robin Smith · Dec. 21, 2015

Throughout Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, evidence has piled up that words spoken by this leader of the Left committed to “fundamentally transforming” America are very frequently at best embellishments of the truth and at worst blatant lies to advance his political agenda. Former Obama Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is now the latest to allege that not only does Obama have the habit of lying to the public for political purposes, he lies to his supposedly most-trusted cabinet leaders tasked to implement his directives.

Foreign Policy first reported that Hagel, the third of four Obama defense secretaries, joined predecessors Leon Panetta and Robert Gates in declaring that Obama not only meddled in matters of the military at the Pentagon but implemented the politics of personal destruction as Hagel exited the position. That exit, which the public was told was mutually decided, resulted from Hagel’s disagreement with the failed policies of Obama and his national security advisor, Susan Rice.

In the case of Hagel, Vietnam veteran and former U.S. senator from Nebraska, the Syrian conflict was the latest caldron roiling in the Middle East that was placed in his charge. On Aug. 20, 2012, Obama made his now-infamous ultimatum to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in response to reports that Assad had used chemical weapons on the Syrian people: “President al-Assad has lost legitimacy, [and] he needs to step down. … We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

(This would be the same Assad that Hillary Clinton had previously described as a “reformer.”)

On Feb. 12, 2013, when the Senate confirmed their former colleague to succeed Panetta, little did Hagel know he’d soon be another victim of Obama’s policy failures and bankrupt character.

The ongoing Syrian conflict among warring sects began as peaceful protests in March 2011 but it has escalated to civil war that has fueled the instability of the Middle East. Almost 250,000 Syrians have been killed and the remaining half of its population displaced by the atrocities of war, often at the hands of the Islamic State. On Aug. 21, 2013, almost a year after Obama’s own terms of engagement, The New York Times reported that Assad used chemical weapons citizens of Damascus. Assad had blatantly and willfully marched past Obama’s red line.

When Hagel stepped onto the scene, the stage had been set publicly that if chemical weapons were used by the Syrian president, American military action would be forthcoming. The crimson boundary set the supposed threshold for action, but the current commander in chief is best captured by shades and hues of yellow as he leads from behind with harsh rhetoric and flimsy acts designed to undermine America’s global leadership.

According to Hagel’s exclusive interview with Foreign Policy, Obama and his political team in charge of America’s international military presence were without any real strategy on dealing not only with the inflammatory Syrian conflict, but they were also “caught flat-footed” by the subsequent growth and expansion of the Islamic State. Further, despite his efforts to implement the Obama military plan, Hagel’s access to his boss was always in the company of others, with an environment of distrust and fear that remarks would be leaked to the media.

On Aug. 30, 2013, as U.S. Navy destroyers stationed in the Mediterranean were poised to launch Tomahawk cruise missile strikes against Assad’s army, Hagel says Obama told him to “stand down.” And so the “red line” was erased.

Hagel’s disclosure is only the latest in a long line from former administration officials disgusted at Obama’s complete destruction of America’s military strength and focus. Hagel’s tenure of less than two years fell during a critical window of time following Obama’s re-election — a campaign centered on boasts that terrorists were “on the run” and that America “has never been safer.”

Our memories must be set firm on the facts of America’s decline with Obama, Clinton and all the Democrats who have championed globalism and “leading from behind” at the expense of safety of Americans and the health of our nation.

Obama is the world’s laughing stock — a man who has guaranteed his place in history, not as a leader, but instead a petulant academic invested in failed policies and apologetics of socialism that can be painted the color most often associated with cowardice and deceit in America — yellow.

America is desperate for leadership rooted in principle and policies painted with bold colors that don’t run.

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