Robert Spencer: Hagel Takes the Fall

Chuck Hagel is out at the Department of Defense, and one administration officialexplained that it was because “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus” – apparently one that doesn’t shed such a bright light upon the smoking ruin that is Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Hagel may have sealed his fate last week, when Charlie Rose asked him in an interview about the decline of the U.S. military. “I am worried about it,” Hagel responded with unexpected candor, “I am concerned about it, Chairman Dempsey is, the chiefs are, every leader of this institution” – as Bryan Preston of PJ Media has noted, he perhaps pointedly left Obama and Joe Biden off this list of concerned officials.

Yet who is the single individual most responsible for the decline of the military? Hagel must have known the answer to that question when he added: “The main responsibility of any leader is to prepare your institution for the future. If you don’t do that, you’ve failed. I don’t care how good you are, how smart you are, any part of your job. If you don’t prepare your institution, you’ve failed.”

Did Obama take that as a reference to his steep defense cuts at a time when the world is on fire? Or did he object to Hagel’s surprisingly cordial relations with Israeli officials?

We may never know what the true story is. It may be that Obama chose Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, to be the one to take the blame for his spectacular misjudgment of the Islamic State, which he famously dismissed in January 2014 as a “JV team.”

Did Chuck Hagel whisper that notorious analogy in Obama’s ear?

Or maybe Hagel is walking the plank for Obama’s insistence upon referring to jihad terrorists in Syria as “vetted moderates.” “We have a Free Syrian Army and a moderate opposition that we have steadily been working with that we have vetted,” said Obama in September 2014. What was he working with them for? To get them to fight the Islamic State. Yet long before that, in July 2013, Free Syrian Army fighters entered the Christian village of Oum Sharshouh and began burning down houses and terrorizing the population, forcing 250 Christian families to flee the area.

This was not an isolated incident. Worthy News reported that just two days later, Free Syrian Army rebels “targeted the residents of al-Duwayr/Douar, a Christian village close to the city of Homs and near Syria’s border with Lebanon….Around 350 armed militants forcefully entered the homes of Christian families who were all rounded-up in the main square of the village and then summarily executed.”

Then in September 2013, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Free Syrian Army as “a real moderate opposition,” the FSA took to the Internet to post videos of its attack on the ancient Syrian Christian city of Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.

And now the U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State are reportedly being used by FSA fighters as a pretext to join the Islamic State. If this is true, they were never going to fight the Islamic State, and were never “vetted moderates.” Obama’s whole Syria strategy is based on fantasy.

Is that Hagel’s fault?

It is November 2014. It is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for Obama at this late date to blame George W. Bush for his foreign policy disasters. Another scapegoat had to be found. Hagel, with his unexpectedly warm relations with Israel (in sharp contrast to the chill between Israeli officials and Barack Obama and John Kerry) and concern over the gutting of the military as the jihad rages more violently than ever and the JV team controls a land expanse larger than Great Britain, was the logical stand-in. He is even a Republican!

And so he will be gone from the Department of Defense, as soon as Obama peers at his gaggle of sycophants and chooses one of them for a big promotion. Likely gone with Hagel will be any remaining obstacle to an increasing chill with Israel, and any murmur of dissent from Obama’s mad plan of demolishing the military while simultaneously expecting it to hold back the Islamic State, Ebola, and a host of other threats.

Times are tough when Chuck Hagel looks like a voice of reasoned pro-American foreign policy. And times are indeed very tough, and about to get a great deal tougher.