The Campaign Spot

Chuck Hagel, the Conditional Secretary of Defense?

One simple question for the upcoming Hagel hearings: would a Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel be willing to order U.S. forces to either assist Israel in a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, or order U.S. forces to execute that strike directly?

(I foresee in the comments section many folks arguing the merits of the idea, but the point is separate from that debate; the point is whether or not Hagel is able to enact options that the president himself has repeatedly stated are “on the table.” Or is the president announcing, with Hagel, that those options are no longer on the table?)

If the answer to either of those is “no” – that Hagel’s conscience and personal policy beliefs mean he could not, in good conscience, give either of those orders, and that he would resign rather than carry out an order from the president to do that — then we have a Secretary of Defense who is going to have to be replaced in the event of a crisis along these lines. It’s a bad idea to have a Secretary of Defense who can only serve the president as long as the president forecloses certain already-discussed options.


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