‘US Defense Secretaries come and go - war machine continues to roll on’
The US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stepped down Monday. He took up the office in February 2013 after spending over a decade in the US Senate. At the end of October Hagel reportedly wrote a memo to the White House criticizing the administration’s Syria plan. Fifty-seven percent of Americans support Hagel’s position.
RT:We heard plenty from President Obama praising Chuck Hagel but no reason was given for why he's actually going, what's your guess?
Eugene Puryear: It is difficult to say. We’ve heard some rumors about discord over some potential letter or the fact that Secretary Hagel was not up to the challenges or perhaps it was just a purely cosmetic move … But Defense Secretaries come and they go, but the “war machine” continues to roll on. That is the one thing that we have seen continue unabated from the point of view of the Obama administration and the previous administrations. Regardless who the Defense Secretary is, there is still a basic policy strategy around this desire to try to control the whole map and use the US military to shape the entire world in the image of American policymakers.
RT:It’s said Chuck Hagel’s resignation is due to the shift in US strategy on fighting Islamic State. What's that strategy going to be like now? Is it likely to change? Was he perhaps against what the US administration wanted to do?
EP: It is possible. We saw from the beginning of the ISIS intervention that General Dempsey who is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was seemingly perhaps contradicting the President. We don’t know if they were playing some game there, but the point being, saying that they would be willing to have troops on the ground, they would be willing to engage. And you see former Secretary [of Defense Leon] Panetta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all coming out urging a much more aggressive posture by the Obama administration. It seems that what happened is that ISIS took them by surprise. Whether or not Secretary Hagel was against them or for them, obviously they felt that they needed a new front man at the same time that they were rolling out a new strategy. They have rolled out a new strategy but appeared to be taking a somewhat more aggressive turn. It seems as if they are still focusing on containment rather than really taking down ISIS. Nevertheless, the stepping up of US troops, the expansion of the combat role in Afghanistan, this is something they felt they needed a new front for, whether or not Hagel was either disagreeing, or they felt he was just cosmetically not the right person.
RT:When Hagel was coming into office he did so as a person who was against the war in Iraq. Obama is now sending thousands of troops back there. Will Hagel's departure see the military presence there increased even further? Will the Obama administration be moving in the same direction?
EP: I think they will keep a similar strategy…I think Hagel is like [Robert] Gates before him…these people were there primarily because they were Republicans and it helped the political situation of the Obama administration to have them there. In terms of who they pick next we are going to have to see. But we have seen a steady increase in US interventions abroad despite President Obama saying he wanted to roll back these sorts of things, and will certainly continue along those lines. They will probably continue by having perhaps a lower profile, if you will, Secretaries of Defense that allow the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to have a higher profile. What we are seeing is that the generals in the Pentagon and the White House seem to be controlling the messaging to a much greater degree than Secretary Hagel was as the Secretary of Defense, which certainly may speak to why he was pushed out. His political value may have now been less important.
‘Obama needs Defense Secretary from the inner circle’
Richard Becker from the Answer Coalition told RT that President Obama needs Defense Secretary from the inner circle.
RB: It appears that they want someone who is in agreement with Obama, Dempsey, and the inner circle that Hagel was not able to penetrate or be taken into, perhaps is more correct way of saying it. Clearly the decision came that this was the appropriate time following the midterm elections to push Hagel out and to bring someone else in. We can see some of the outlines of what the priorities are for US national security, as they call it. But what really it should be called is a ‘global domination strategy.’ They see China; they see Russia as being prime opponents to US domination. What has happened over more than a decade with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a weakening of the US position in the world. Those wars were disastrous wars. The Iraq war was a war fought on completely false pretenses that consumed immense amounts of revenue, as well as the tremendous cost in lives particularly on the Iraqi side, but also the killed and wounded on the US side. The US position has clearly weakened in the world.
Now the question is: is the Obama administration - and we believe this to be the case – gearing up in the last two years of its term? And that will continue on because the Presidents come and go, as well as the Secretaries of Defense, and the war machine grinds on, the machine that they are preparing for a new offensive or offensives to sustain the US position or to fortify the US position in the world, and particularly against those countries which they consider to be potential rivals.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.