Peace

Chuck Hagel Propels Barack Obama Into History

With his thoughtful restructuring of America’s military, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel — a Republican — has cemented Obama’s signature legacy: restoring America to a peacetime footing.  Obama’s bringing American troops home from two wars, and, now, reducing the military to a strong, but proportionate, peacetime footing, was not easy.

Doing so required something of a political miracle.  Obama, with a critical assist from Hagel, is pulling it off.

This columnist has critiqued many of Obama’s initiatives.  The president’s follies in other areas detract from but do not diminish his real achievement here.

Bringing about peace is remarkable, historic, and transformational.  Future historians almost certainly will scratch their heads as to how Obama’s own White House wrapped the boss’s prestige around Obamacare, a botch, rather putting to the fore the president’s greatest achievement.

An aside.  Current events in Crimea are unlikely to destroy Obama’s achievement.  While Kiev, understandably, and the West express alarm … what’s happening now in Ukraine presents more as chess rather than hand grenades.  Putin is an autocrat (and geopolitical chess grandmaster), yet no brutal tyrant in the Stalin mode. Russian military intervention in Crimea appears based on securing a fundamental Russian asset — its sole warm water port — and protection of ethnic Russians living there.

President Reagan’s stated reason for invading Grenada (and deposing the government there, something Putin studiedly has not shown signs of attempting in Ukraine) was to protect 800 American medical students.  Putin is not neo-imperialist.  This predicament is likely to end with a Russian-led bailout of an insolvent Ukraine.  The severe difficulties in Ukraine shall pass without reigniting the Cold War.

Meanwhile, over two years ago, Obama astutely observed, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, that “the tide of war is receding. …  Moreover we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength.”

The world’s prevailing geopolitical winds truly, now, are winds of peace, not war. (This columnist originally missed Obama’s relevance to the process, for which he duly hereby issues a correction.) Obama promised to align America with the winds of peace in ways that his rivals for office simply did not.  The electorate wants peace.  Obama alone caught the political wave of peace.  He rode it to election … and re-election.  In great measure Obama is fulfilling his commitment to peace.

As shrewdly noted by columnist Adil E. Shamoo in consortiumnews.com,

If a Republican were president — say Sen. John McCain, who lost to Obama in 2008, or Mitt Romney, who failed to unseat him in 2012 — he would have found a way to keep as many as 30,000 American combat troops in Iraq, making Iraq a violent client state rather than the distant disaster it is today. Troops would continue coming home in coffins, and Iraq would feel the wrath of continued air strikes and raids.

If Hillary Clinton had won the primary in 2008 and became president, she would have rallied to keep combat troops in Iraq, too….

If a Republican or Ms. Clinton were president, American troops would still be in Afghanistan ….

Secretary of defense Chuck Hagel’s plan declared on February 24th  to reduce the military budget to the lowest level since before World War II seals Obama’s real legacy.  For Hagel to have done this in a way that enjoys a broad-based, at least tacitly bipartisan, recognition — that the restructuring will not undermine American security — is an impressive achievement.

At Obama’s bidding, Hagel’s judicious slimming down, restructuring, and modernizing of America’s force structure, together with Obama’s winding down the presence of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, is an impressive, historic, legacy.  The emergence of peace was foreshadowed by the 2009 award to the newly fledged President Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize.  He has delivered, impressively.

Obama’s successful confrontation with, and victory over, the Military-Industrial complex is striking.  Peace is in the sweet spot of American, and world, priorities.

Peace, not the benighted Obamacare, is Obama’s signature initiative. Continuing to defend, and even feature, the botched Obamacare likely will cost the Democrats control of the US Senate this year.

Meanwhile, virtually unadvertised, Obama is making good on his promise of ushering in a wave, and likely an era, of peace  This columnist is a Tea Party Patriot, right wing conspirator, Republican Party loyalist, and Obama opponent. It is with some trepidation, therefore, that he points out something that, if noticed by the Democrats, might be used to avert the onrushing Democratic Party rout. (The captains of the Other Team reportedly do not routinely read here — their loss — so making this observation is not a reckless act.)

Hagel’s speech cements President Obama’s legacy.  Hagel:

Our force structure and modernization recommendations are rooted in three realities:

  • First, after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations;
  • Second, we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries;
  • Third, the military must be ready and capable to respond quickly to all contingencies and decisively defeat any opponent should deterrence fail.

Accordingly, our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force – putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries.

The forces we prioritized can project power over great distances and carry out a variety of missions more relevant to the President’s defense strategy, such as homeland defense, strategic deterrence, building partnership capacity, and defeating asymmetric threats.  …

Our recommendations seek to protect capabilities uniquely suited to the most likely missions of the future, most notably special operations forces used for counterterrorism and crisis response.  Accordingly, our special operations forces will grow to 69,700 personnel from roughly 66,000 today.

Thus has the Republican Secretary Chuck Hagel cemented the Democratic President Obama’s legacy.  Both thereby make a great contribution to America’s well being and, likely, to history.  Guiding America home to, or at least toward, a peacetime footing — not Obamacare — is Obama’s signature achievement.  It is one that deserves recognition from conservatives and libertarians as well as progressives … and from all Americans.

This article was previously published at Forbes.com.

9 comments to Chuck Hagel Propels Barack Obama Into History

  • AndyV

    Fascinating, so America now being seen as weak and incompetent as opposed to being seen as a strong force for good is just totally ignored.
    It may well deserve praise from ignorant leftists and Rino Republicans, but certainly not Conservatives. The old phrase was ‘peace through strength’, the new one is ‘peace through weakness’.
    North Korea with nuclear weapons, Iran waving two figures at the US with them, Putin clearly sees Obama and the US people as now weak.
    Relative to GDP and entitlement spending the US has an entitlement spending problem, not a military problem. I don’t think we need to live through the naivety of the 1930s again.
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/03/daily-chart-5

    • George Thompson

      I’m old enough to have been draft bait during the Vietnam War (a lucky lottery draw kept me home), and I remember many on the left arguing that we should simply declare victory and bring all the boys home. Sadly, this strategy would have served the USA far better than waiting until the bitter end to bring them back. Now all we have to show for over 50,000 lives squandered, many more permanently scarred, and billions in fiat currency, is a rather sad wall on our National Mall. Good lefty that he is, obama has adapted that strategy for the war on terror. Folks who think despite all the wasted lives and money we have achieved anything other than defeat in the muddled East are probably, based on this one article, Forbes readers or authors. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are just waiting for the full withdrawal of troops and then will simply take back all they lost when Bush foolishly rushed in where angels fear to tread.

      Our strategy is not even “peace through weakness.” Noting how fond obama is of bowing to foreign potentates, rather it is now “peace through surrender”. Unlike Germany and Japan before us, we have no rich uncle to lift us back to liberty and prosperity.

      The Cobden Centre would be better served sticking to monetary matters than acting as a propaganda arm of the American Democratic Party.

  • chuck martel

    There must be some mistake, this could have been posted on Forbes.com but seems more likely to have been taken from The Onion. The families of the victims of Predator drone attacks probably don’t consider it to be “peaceful”. There is no real downsizing per se of the US military, it’s more like a reconfiguration from an obsolete WWII era structure that hasn’t satisfied requirements for some time. The supposed reduction in the pentagon budget can thus be used to purchase more votes, a bipartisan goal. In fact, both the supposedly peaceful Democrats, the folks that dropped the atom bomb on Japanese girls on their way to school and streamed napalm over Vietnamese villages, are allies of the gun-toting Republicans in one big party called “The Government”.

  • Craig Howard

    I am appalled to read this at Cobden Centre.

    Obama and Hagel are purposefully destroying the U.S. military.

    One may debate when and where the armed forces should be used, but turning it into an impotent, politically correct organization is yet another blot on this little communist’s march through the institutions.

  • nigel dawson

    Has April Fool’s Day come early ?

  • chuck martel

    “… we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries;”

    Very true. Those darn Pashtun tribesmen are probably even now riveting together an aircraft that can fly circles around our F-35 or whatever it is that we use to engage in aerial dogfights over the Indian Ocean. And those Toyota pickups that they use for ground transport might have GPS systems and high quality electronic sound systems, too.

    Actually, isn’t everyone a “potential adversary”? Any other country in the world, a sum total of almost 7 billion drooling maniacal adversaries. Eleven aircraft carriers aren’t enough. The 5113 nuclear weapons in the inventory aren’t enough, either. We’re practically defenseless.

  • Dr. Andrei Berkson

    The naivete and ignorance displayed in this article, more appropriate for MSNBC or slate.com, is indicative of the fear and disastrous ruination of otherwise good people who should know better.

    The withdrawal from IRAQ was done under Bush, not Obama who delayed, and back-tracked several times on his promises and timelines but finally was forced to honor the SOFA because Al Sadr wouldn’t call off the protesters and was going to start arresting troops for torture and crimes all covered up by Obama.

    Same playbook in Afghanistan where after Obama took over the poppy seed production from Bush to fund Wall St. and London Bailouts not only did he have no desire to withdrawal troops he initiated another surge and was only forced to do so after Karzai had enough of the extrajudicial night-raids and quartering of troops and illegal torture again covered up and continued by Obama and forced the Bilateral Security Agreement which still leaves a military training force and private mercenary contractors.

    Not to mention Barry “I’m very good at killing people,” Obama’s extrajudicial murder droning in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, illegal wars in Libya, Egypt, Syria, illegal NGO, state department, Victoria “f-k the EU” Nuland coups and color revolutions threatening WW3.

    Obama is a pretender and a war-rager. He passion of death and murder is a threat to all of humanity and is proven by his actions.

    As far as defending cuts goes, Ron Paul has pointed out that it is all “Smoke and Mirrors:”
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-04/ron-paul-hagels-defense-cuts-are-smoke-mirrors
    Dressing up pigs with lipstick and trinkets to fool people into believing the propaganda is nothing new and I suppose cobdencentre by publishing this article on its site confirms that parroting mainstream talking points by op-ed writers who have infiltrated the liberty movement only to undermine is nothing new either.

    Ralph Benko sounds like one straight out of the Cass Sunstein playbook.

  • Ed Buckley

    In Washington, a budget cut is when they stop a proposed increase. Considering we spend more than any other 2 countries combined, any of the proposed cuts is hardly a return to a peacetime footing. The proposed cuts are much less than what the pre-budget-agreement sequester would have chopped out of military spending. This article is a joke, whatever time of year.