Politics, War & Peace



by David Beilstein

Mark Steyn has come down on the Chuck Hagel nomination by President Obama. Mr Steyn’s point (it seems) is that ObamaCare has consequences.

Fiscal ones.

If ObamaCare exists, writes Mr Steyn, spending cuts have to come from some where now don’t they? Likewise, writes Mr Steyn, the policy of sequestration within the Department of Defense is a more pliable policy for the Obama administration with Chuck Hagel at the head of DOD than someone else.

National Review Online’s Elliot Abrams also weighed in with an interesting point.

The primary argument against Hagel’s confirmation seems to be that his policy views are wrong, bad, and even dangerous — and of course contrary to those of whoever is lodging this criticism. Several senators have already said they would vote against Hagel, and others have jumped on the fence and are sitting there until the hearings — due to their policy disagreements with him, often over Iran policy and Israel policy. I completely agree with the typical criticisms of his policy views, but can’t say I find them to be persuasive grounds for opposing his confirmation.

For one thing, the general rule should be that presidents get the policies and the appointees they want. I did not vote for President Obama, but he did win and he does get to make his own policy and choose his subordinates.

Conservatives have argued for defense cuts for some time – as they have realised there much wasteful spending exists within the Pentagon just like other Federal departments. The question has always been what are useful cuts, allowing for the United States to maintain a critical tactical advantage in a potential military conflict with future enemies of America.

So we need defense cuts but we need them to be wise ones. Ones that do not etiolate the U.S. Military’s ability to fight and win any war (quickly) it engages in.

We come to Chuck Hagel. His views may be unpopular with conservatives and classical liberal minded critics. But Mr Abrams makes a solid point President Obama won reelection, thus the president does get his nominations unless severe circumstances mitigate against them.

Republicans have made their own bed. They screwed up two wars and in the process lost of the respect and the trust of the American people. The critical venom aimed at former Sen. Chuck Hagel – a man who has been critical of American intervention and war making of late – falls on death ears.

Another point.

Can we honestly – as classical liberals – say American intervention in the Middle East has been good? I have become slowly convinced over time that under former President Bush and President Obama intervening all over the world (particularly the Middle East) has not been good for American security.

It is one thing to destroy enemies to the United States – quite another to go around planting democracies within societies that do not have the preconditions to maintain civil, liberal societies. The former is clearly in the best tradition of American foreign policy.

The later is an elaboration upon Wilsonian ideas – stripped of a proper understanding of imperfect men and nations. Democracy projects brim with problems; problems that have complicated and made the situation worse – emboldening American enemies abroad.




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