Bloomberg News is tweeting an exclusive that former GOP senator Chuck Hagel is to be Obama’s nominee to head the DoD, saying that sources tell the news agency that he has passed the vetting process at the White House counsel’s office.
On Monday, Hagel gave a speech to the Atlantic Council in which he argued for soft power.
Perhaps with an eye toward America losing its preeminent military position, Hagel argued that “engagement” is the key to address many international problems. In the national security world, engagement generally encompasses negotiations or multinational efforts. It has never been a popular tactic among most Republicans and some pro-military Democrats.
However, Hagel insisted that “engagement is not surrender, it’s not appeasement,” clearly taking on some of his GOP colleagues, who have slung around appeasement — associated with the foolish actions of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as he tried to avert war with Germany — to describe some of President Barack Obama’s efforts to prevent international tensions from flaring into conflict.
Engagement is “an opportunity to better understand” others, Hagel said, and to bring “mutual self respect” among contesting parties. As the U.S. faces a litany of problems and potential crises in the future, he said, “we will need to turn our receivers on and our transmitters off.” The emerging issues, Hagel said, “are beyond the control of any great power” and the U.S. “cannot solve them alone.” Instead, they must be addressed through alliances, through “joint thinking,” he said.
Hagel may be one of the few Republicans who opposed the Iraq surge, but he’s still firmly in the DC mainstream of looking to maintain an “exceptional” as the world’s pre-eminent military power, at whatever cost and even as the US seems set to inevitably lose its pre-eminint economic position. He’s likely to see Republican opposition to his nomination, including from his old friend John McCain.