Historically, the position of defense secretary is quickly filled either from the beginning of a president’s administration or after a sitting defense secretary resigns. While the confirmation process can vary in time (still always relatively fast), it doesn’t take a president long to name a successor to the previous or retiring defense secretary.
However, as former U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) notes in his weekly column on The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s website, this is a major problem for President Obama. According to the Paul, “[i]t seems nobody wants to be Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration.”
“Shortly after Chuck Hagel’s ouster, the media reported that the president favored [Michele] Flournoy to replace him,” he writes.
Going this long without naming a successor to a retiring defense secretary is almost unprecedented. However, pretty much everyone who might have been considered high on the list of possible successors to Hagel have taken themselves off the list, including U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
So maybe Ron Paul is right: maybe no one wants the job.
President Obama doesn’t have a very good track record with defense secretaries. His first two secretaries of defense, Robert Gates and Panetta, have openly talked about the White House micromanaging the Pentagon without including them in the decision-making process in how things were done.
In time, whether on national TV or in his own memoir, Chuck Hagel will likely open up more about being excluded from Obama’s inner circle and his disagreements with how the White House operates. If the first three defense secretaries felt like they were excluded but then blamed when something went wrong on the defense side, who would say yes to Obama?
Major foreign policy issues in the final two years of Obama’s administration will include how it continues to deal with ISIS, Syria, a resurgence in America’s military presence in the Middle East, growing tensions with Russia, and even growing concern over China’s growing military presence worldwide.
Officials within the White House are fighting over who should be in charge of all of this, but as Paul observes, no one is fighting about “the US policy of global intervention.”
“There is no real foreign policy debate in Washington,” he writes. “But the real national security crisis will come when their militarism finally cripples our economy and places us at the mercy of the rest of the world.”
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