Foreign Policy Mag: Hagel Can 'Get Back at' GOP Critics with Base Closings

Foreign Policy Mag: Hagel Can 'Get Back at' GOP Critics with Base Closings

Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote an article at Foreign Policy magazine Wednesday that can best be described as a threat delivered by a Hagel apologist to Republican critics disguised as journalism. 

Aptly titled “Hagel’s Revenge: How Obama’s New Pentagon Chief Can Get Back at His Republican Enemies,” Korb argued that any Republican senator who opposes Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense will see his state’s Defense Department expenditures dry up in retaliation:

While Hagel had to play defense during the hearing, that will change when he gets to the Pentagon. Based upon his past experience in business, the non-profit world, and the Senate, he will be a take-charge leader, and one of his challenges will be reducing defense spending. And his choices could hurt the constituents of the very officials who have done the most to hurt him.

Hagel, Korb wrote, “can have a large impact on which bases are part of the list [to be closed] that is sent to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.” He can “also exert significant economic influence on states and districts by transferring units from one base to another or by disestablishing units altogether.” In addition, Korb wrote, Hagel “can have a large economic impact through the decisions he makes on major weapons programs.”

These Republican critics, Korb said, “demeaned Hagel,” and once he is confirmed, he’ll pay them back. 

All of the senators who demeaned Hagel during the hearings and committee discussions represent states that are heavily dependent on the Pentagon for their economic well-being. For example, Senator Cruz’s Texas has nearly 200,000 military personnel stationed at some 15 bases or military installations… Similarly, Senator Inhofe’s Oklahoma has about 50,000 military personnel at five major bases. Senator Graham’s South Carolina has 65,000 military people stationed at eight facilities. And Senator McCain’s Arizona has 40,000 personnel at seven facilities, and its defense industry payroll amounts to $4 billion.

Though all of the criticisms made by Cruz, Graham, Inhofe, and McCain have been substantive questions of Hagel’s stands on policy issues, Korb paints these Republican critics as morally inferior to Hagel. “Fortunately for his political opponents, Senator Hagel would never stoop to their level… Senator Hagel can be depended upon to put his country first, unlike many of his critics,” he concludes.

It’s reassuring to know that a progressive thought leader would consider it appropriate for a senior Cabinet member to play politics with the livelihoods of American servicemembers in retaliation for legitimate disagreements on foreign policy.