A prominent geopolitical expert believes Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel wasn’t given the full set of tools he needed to succeed in his position before his resignation Monday morning.
According to NBC News, “senior defence officials” said Hagel was “forced to resign” because “the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon.” One official said of Hagel: “He wasn’t up to the job.”
Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group, offered Business Insider a different take.
Bremmer argued Hagel wasn’t a “good fit” for President Barack Obama’s administration. However, he also said the White House may have itself to blame for Hagel’s departure because he was not offered a clear foreign policy vision.
“Once the secretary of defence post became primarily about policy (as opposed to managing the bureaucracy and keeping the budget under control), Hagel was a challenge for the Obama administration,” Bremmer wrote in an email. “It’s true that he wasn’t a good fit for that job, but he also wasn’t given a chance — they needed clear policy alignment, and pushed him out.”
Bremmer claimed military policy is “driven by the White House.” He suggested this may have led to Hagel’s issues at the Pentagon.
Due to the fact he believes the White House is not looking for a secretary defence to determine its military policy, Bremmer posited Hagel’s exit won’t have a major impact on the US approach to the Middle East, where the conflicts rage around the Islamic State, Israel, and nuclear negotiations with Iran.
“I don’t think there’s much impact on Middle East policy, which has been and will be driven by the White House,” Bremmer said. “The decisions on what to do and, more to the point, what not to do in Syria and Iraq have been political, not military.”
While Bremmer described the secretary of defence as having to follow the White House’s lead in policy matters, he argued losing Hagel will have an impact on one major Obama administration initiative. The White House has made a “pivot” to Asia a focal point of its foreign policy. Bremmer said Hagel recently became a point person in this effort after other officials left.
“There’s a problem for Obama in Asia, where Hagel became the administration’s lead in engaging (and reassuring),” Bremmer wrote. “Hagel was successful in soothing those nerves, particularly with Japan, and also helped create momentum for US-India Defence relations. If his replacement is seen as primarily a Middle East hand, the White House is going to need to address that gap quickly.”
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