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Containing Hagel
Tehran is pleased that we aren’t.

Chuck Hagel during Senate testimony, January 31, 2013.

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Mark Steyn

There are over 300 million Americans, and another 20 million more Undocumented-Americans about to be fast-tracked down the soi-disant “path to citizenship.” Surely, from this vast talent pool, it should be possible to find someone who’s sufficiently interested in running the planet’s biggest military not to present himself on the world stage as a woozy, unfocused stumblebum. In an exquisite touch, responding to reports that Hagel was “ill-prepared,” someone in the White House leaked that he had been thoroughly “coached.” In other words, don’t blame us: We put him through the federally mandated Confirmation Hearing for Dummies course. He doesn’t have to be a competent defense secretary; he just has to play one on TV for a couple of hours. But even that’s too much to ask of an increasingly dysfunctional political system: The Senate disdains to pass a budget, 70 percent of U.S .Treasury debt is bought by the Federal Reserve, month-long negotiations to cut spending turn out in the final deal to increase spending . . . and the president’s choice of defense secretary tells the world he has no idea what our policy on Iran is.

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Hagel may know nothing about Iran, but he’s an incisive expert on America.

During an appearance on Al Jazeera in 2009, a caller asked him about “the perception and the reality” that America is “the world’s bully” — and Hagel told viewers that he agreed. Confronted with this exchange by Senator Ted Cruz, Hagel floundered. There was no aide to slip him a note explaining that the incoming SecDef takes no formal position on whether or not his own nation is “the world’s bully.”

Ah, if only. In the chancelleries of Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Cairo, Pyongyang, the world’s bullied are laughing their heads off.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn



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