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Obama Names Hagel for Defense

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As expected, President Obama named former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense. Hagel is a decorated war veteran with two Purple Hearts for service in the Vietnam War. He has also served two terms in the United States Senate. In addition, he served as Co-Chair of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, as well as on the Council on Foreign Relations. His experience in the private sector is equally impressive.

In 2007, Hagel was one of a few Republicans who supported a Democratic-proposed troop withdrawal from Iraq within four months. In referring to Iraq and Afghanistan, he stated, “We can help them buy time or develop, but we cannot control their fates.”

The calculus of power between Iraq and Iran has been a delicate balancing act. During the 80s, Iraq killed just under 200,000 Iranians while losing 60,000 Iraqi lives. Disturbing the balance of power in the region is an act with unknown consequences. By August of 1988, the UN obtained a mutually agreed upon ceasefire between Iran and Iraq.

The early 90s brought the Desert Storm coalition to Iraq to stop its aggressions in Kuwait. A decade later, the U.S. forces returned to Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein despite the fact that George Bush the elder decided against changing the Iraqi regime in the early 90s.

The area is in flux even today, with Iraq trying to rebuild its war-torn economy and Iran faltering under the weight of numerous sanctions. The decision to assert military power requires a complex analysis of the past history of the region, the current balance of power between Iraq and Iran, as well as the willingness and capacity of either nation to undermine its neighbors.

Hagel voted affirmatively for the Chemical and Biological Weapons Threat Reduction Act, which sets forth criminal penalties for possession of chemical or biological weapons. He cosponsored the American Missile Protection Act, deploying an effective national missile defense system capable of defending the US against limited ballistic missile attacks.

Hagel was considered briefly by the Obama team to be a running-mate in the 2008 election. His experience does qualify him to be seriously considered for the position of defense secretary. There are some areas where disagreements may surface. For instance, Hagel voted in favor of the Patriot Act. This vote will not endear him to all Libertarians.

President Obama nominated Hagel for his experience in government and the private sector, as well as his principled stances in containing our involvement in foreign wars. Most importantly, Hagel is needed to bring a fresh outlook regarding the role of the Pentagon in asserting American military power in the world, as well as in the all-important area of cost containment.

Hagel can look forward to right-sizing the Pentagon budget while recognizing the limitations of the notion of asserting America’s military power to further the idea of Manifest Destiny. Another constraining factor impacts the Pentagon: nature itself. The eastern coastline of the United States has been under heavy assault from a number of major hurricanes and floods.

The aftermath of these natural disasters has required years of rebuilding and the active intervention of the Army Corps of Engineers. Recently, Hurricane Sandy proved to be unprecedented in the northeast corridor. Now, the Defense Department must consider the impact of weatherization as an important consideration in protecting citizens from great harm.

Right now, there are important foreign policy challenges in the world. Examples are the unwillingness of Iran to cooperate fully in eliminating its pursuit of nuclear weapons components and related technologies. Syria has had social unrest together with harsh governmental policies in recent years, yet Assad will not step down. In addition, North Korea has expressed interest in reunification with the South.

All of these issues, individually and collectively will pose considerable challenges to our diplomatic and defense efforts well into the future. Ultimately, the United States must discover the proper balance between diplomacy, the use of soft power, sanctions and an assertive military posture to deflect the challenges which the future will most certainly present. Lastly, Chuck Hagel will be running the Defense Department, if confirmed. The overall efforts in the execution of soft power and diplomacy will be done by the diplomatic team, as well as the new Secretary of State: John Kerry. Overall policy will be set by President Obama.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • Dr Joseph S. Maresca

    Thanks for the comment, John. I don’t think that Israel contests the Palestinian right to exist or to even co-exist peacefully. Israel really would like Hamas to recognize that Israel has an unconditional right to exist. This plus peaceful co-existence will get the peace process rolling to a successful conclusion. This desired result may actually happen as Hamas loses power and influence in the area.

  • Dr Joseph S. Maresca

    Correction: Par. 3 should show 60,000 Iraqi lives lost and 200,000 Iranian lives lost.

  • Igor


  • “After two years back at Harvard, Moynihan was appointed by Nixon in 1973 to the job of Ambassador to India, thus gratifying the old dream of foreign service. During his two years in New Delhi, Moynihan completed the tedious yet valuable job of negotiating the retirement of India’s debt to the United States. But he also came to some alarming conclusions about the world: In 1975, in a widely read article in Commentary titled ”The United States in Opposition,” he wrote that democratic values were profoundly threatened by a growing totalitarian spirit in the third world, and nobody was willing to recognize it. The governing elites, as always, were complacent, paralyzed.

    Henry A. Kissinger, then Gerald Ford’s Secretary of State, admired the article (he found it ”staggeringly good,” Moynihan later wrote) and suggested Moynihan for the job of Chief Delegate to the United Nations.”


  • It’s also standard practice for administrations to use their predecessors’ foreign policy guys as envoys. George Mitchell is always doing something.

    Indeed. And I remember during the 80s and 90s, George Schultz always seemed to be in the news no matter who was president. It makes sense for administrations to set politics aside if there’s someone available who really knows his or her stuff and is willing to put nation before party.

  • Baronius

    It’s become pretty standard lately. Reagan had Kirkpatrick and Bennett. I don’t recall Bush I. Clinton had a couple, and Dread notes Bush II. It’s also standard practice for administrations to use their predecessors’ foreign policy guys as envoys. George Mitchell is always doing something.

    And, there are always plenty of bipartisan commissions.

  • Norman Mineta, a Democrat, was GWB’s Transportation Secretary.

  • Igor

    Why must the democratic president pick a republican executive?

    Did republican presidents select democratic cabinet members?

  • John Lake

    Thorough and thoughtful article. I also seem to recall that Hagel supports Obama’s basic premise that indeed Palestine does have a right to exist.