From “Why Chuck Hagel Is Obama’s Pentagon Pick,” Bob Woodward, WaPo:
“The two [Obama and Hagel] share similar views and philosophies as the Obama administration attempts to define the role of the United States in the transition to a post-superpower world.
“This worldview is part hawk and part dove. It amounts, in part, to a challenge to the wars of President George W. Bush. It holds that the Afghanistan war has been mismanaged and the Iraq was unnecessary. War is an option, but very much a last resort.
“So, this thinking goes, the U. S. role in the world must be carefully scaled back — this is not a matter of choice but of facing reality; the military needs to be treated with deep skepticism; lots of strategic military and foreign policy thinking is out of date; and quagmires like Afghanistan should be avoided.
“The bottom line: The United States must get out of these massive land wards — Iraq and Afghanistan — and, if possible, avoid future large-scale war.
“Although much discussion of the Hagel nomination has centered on his attitudes about Iran, Israel and the defense budget, Hagel’s broader agreement with Obama on overall philosophy is probably more consequential.”
I am hopeful that Obama/Kerry/Hagel will spend the next four years devising foreign and military policy that protects our power by getting the best bang for the buck and then uses that power wisely. Applying our power conservatively — that would make them the neo-neo-cons.
After 9/11, we knew the world had changed, but it’s taken us over a decade to figure out how to change with it.
I would say the Iraq war wasn’t just unnecessary, but was very harmful to our interests because it took Iraq away as a counter-weight to Iran and upset the balance of power in the region. Saddam Hussein was a bastard, but he was a useful bastard. Bush 41 recognized this when he freed Kuwait, but didn’t march to Baghdad.
And the idea that we were going to change Afghanistan was always absurd. No one changes Afghanistan — they just bang their heads against a wall and eventually leave.