Chuck Hagel

Hagel Ouster Shines Light on Power Shift

“The forced resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is exposing deep tensions between the Pentagon and President Obama’s national security staff,” The Hill reports.

“While administration aides characterized Hagel’s departure as a mutual decision, insiders say it was the culmination of a larger power struggle that has intensified in Obama’s second term… Defense experts say there has long been distrust between the West Wing and the Pentagon, dating back to decisions about the ‘surge’ in Afghanistan in 2009 and the Iraq troop drawdown in 2011.”

Hagel’s Side of the Story

“Two months before he was pushed out as defense secretary, Chuck Hagel penned a private letter to the White House, arguing for new measures to rein in Russian President Vladimir Putin and greater efforts to reassure anxious European allies,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Shortly after the September letter, he wrote another memo calling for the administration to clarify its approach to the conflict in Syria. The two messages capped a year of frustrations for Mr. Hagel, who repeatedly found fault with what he saw as indecisiveness by the White House National Security Council.”

Said one Hagel confidante: “One of the things that Hagel values most is clarity. That’s not something that this White House has always done well.”

Dysfunction Washington Can Agree On

Michael Crowley: “It isn’t often that left, right and center agree about the Obama White House. But the firing of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week produced a near-unanimous reaction: President Obama’s foreign policy team is dysfunctional and in need of a stronger tonic than the exit of a low-profile cabinet member with a light policy footprint.”

Flournoy Not Interested in Being Defense Secretary

“Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama’s second term,” Foreign Policy reports.

Hagel Just the Latest to Clash with White House

The Wall Street Journal explained the “tumultuous relationship” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had with the White House and suggests it led to his ouster.

“Mr. Hagel complained about the slow pace of decision-making and clashed privately with White House national security officials over strategies in Ukraine and Syria, U.S. officials have said. In turn, Mr. Hagel’s predecessors, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, leveled harsh criticisms at President Obama in their memoirs and accused him of micromanaging the Pentagon.”

New York Times: “By forcing out Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, President Obama has severed the obvious weak link from a national security team that has struggled to keep ahead of crises. But his very limited shakeup does not address deeper doubts about the team’s capacity to deal with problems from the Islamic State to the Ebola outbreak.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=”@politicalwire”]Hagel’s memoir is unlikely to be any kinder than those from Gates and Panetta. [/speech_bubble]

The Inside Story of Chuck Hagel’s Dismissal

“Hagel’s resignation was decided last Thursday night, a Pentagon official tells The Daily Beast. The news only got out to a few people in the building, who described the next day at work as exceptionally awkward. Many Pentagon officials were surprised to learn Monday from a New York Times report that their boss was leaving. (An earlier announcement would have been impractical, as Obama had his plate full rolling out his controversial plan to begin overhauling the immigration system.)”

“So it was that a duty-bound Hagel, a man who had honorably served in the Vietnam War and still carries shrapnel in his chest from that conflict, was fired Monday morning on live television alongside President Obama and a clearly displeased Vice President Joe Biden.”

Hagel Stepping Down as Defense Secretary

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises,” the New York Times reports.

“The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks… The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ.”

One administration official “insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.”

However, senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News that Hagel was forced to resign. Said one: “He wasn’t up to the job.”

[speech_bubble type=”std” subtype=”a” icon=”pwdome.jpg” name=””]Obama’s relationship with all three of his defense secretaries – Gates, Panetta and Hagel – has ended badly. [/speech_bubble]