I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but firing Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is probably the wrong thing for President Barack Obama to do. Hagel should never have been appointed in the first place, much less confirmed. (That he was given the nod is to the eternal shame of Sen. Chuck Schumer and other so-called pro-Israel Democrats.) However, his dismissal can only add to a sense that the administration is in disarray.
That is not good–not even for a conservative Republican who would prefer to see Obama fail in pursuing his partisan agenda. The problem is that on the national security front, Obama is now–reluctantly, and poorly–pursuing a national agenda: defeating terror, shoring up the new government in Afghanistan, dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat, and so on. Already, it has seemed that Obama and his team are in well over their heads.
Hagel’s firing comes on the very day that nuclear talks with Iran were to have been concluded (in the event, they were extended to June 2015). Given the setbacks in Iraq and elsewhere, given the Russian advance into Eastern Europe, and given continued Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific, Hagel’s departure will send yet another signal of weakness. A shakeup is certainly needed–but the timing is terrible, and the execution typically shoddy.