tv Inside Story Al Jazeera November 25, 2014 9:30am-10:01am EST
coast and fishing communities will suffer. >> reporter: the government says it wants to relocate fishing communities to enable them to increase their catches, but so far there are no plans to restrict or ban the extraction of ground water, the main cause of the city's sinking. ♪ the president sees new and looming threats in syria, iraq, and afghanistan. so the old secretary of defense had to go. it's "inside story." ♪ ♪
hello i am ray suarez. calling chuck hagel an exemplary defense secretary. president obama bid him farewell after just two years on the job. the former u.s. senator from nebraska, the only republican on the obama national security team in a prominent role, oversaw the withdrawal from afghanistan and cut backs in war time defense spending. but now the president is planning a bigger presence in afghanistan and is ramping up american military activity in iraq and syria, and he's looking for a new defense chief to carry out the new missions. pushed or pulled, fired or resigned. >> good mor morning, everything, be seated. >> secretary of defense chuck hagel is out depending his successor's confirmation. >> i have determined that having guided the department through this transition it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service. >> the former
vietnam combat vet and republican senator came in to the administration to help cut budge and it's guide the pentagon as it wrapped up its combat mission in afghan storm the u.s. military role in iraq was already finished when the situation changed. militants from ey iraq and levat overran mosul and claimed large swaths of both iraq and syria. >> today our men and women in uniform are taking the fight against isil in iraq and syria and chuck helped build the international coalition to insure that the world is meet this is threat together. >> while the president praised hagel at the white house monday, the secretary was seen as out of step with the president on isil. in august, he called the militants an imminent threat to every interest we have. both he and chairman of the joint chiefs, jeanmar tin dempsey, talked openly about the need to ground forces against isil, even though the president said there would be no u.s. boots on the ground.
reports of internal tensions center around a foreign policy team close to the president that increasingly sidelined hagel. in october, he penned a letter to national security adviser susan rice urging a more defined strategy against syria bashar al-assad as the conflict with isil raged. it was in october that discussions began between hagel and the president about him moving on. today president obama praised hagel's leadership on afghanistan. >> as secretary chuck has helped transition our military and bolstered america's leadership around the world. during his tenure afghan forces took the lead for security in afghanistan, our forces have drawn down, our combat mission there end next month and will partner with afghans to preserve the gains that we have made. >> but american policy on afghanistan is still in flux, combat troops were scheduled to be out by the end of this year, but over the weekend the afghan
parliament ex-tinnedded the military agreement, allowing u.s. and nato force to his stay on through 2015. president obama has approved new tactical guidelines allowing direct attacks on taliban fight works air support if necessary. on sunday, a suicide bomber detonated himself at a volleyball tournament, killing at least 50 people and wounding 63 more, many of whom were teenagers. >> translator: the explosion happened during the game. dead bodies and wounded were spread everywhere. >> reporter: afghanistan's interior ministry said the attack was likely targeting members of the police attending the event. 10 officers were killed in the explosion, including one commander . change at the top at the pentagon this time on the program. what happened to undermine chuck hague until what challenges await the next secretary? joining us for that conversation
david former deputy assistant secretary for defense for afghanistan and pakistan. heather, director of new models of policy change project at the new america foundation. and mark thompson, national security reporter for time magazine, welcome all of you to the program. heather, it's a washington ritual, say nice things about the person who is about to be pushed out the door. talk about the great job they did. and then make it public they are not doing that job anymore. what happened to chuck hagel? >> three things happened to chuck hagel. one, there was a midterm election in which the president's party did badly and anxiety about the national security strategy was seen to be a big piece of that. second chuck hagel was the victim, fairly or unfairly, of lots of whispers and chatter about unhappiness at the pentagon with his performance.
and third, chuck hagel was clearly a meshed as yo you are intro said some nasty fighting among was net members, which is also a washington ritual. you get those three things together. it looks convenient and helpful politically, sim bot i can to maksymbol i think tomake a chanr people if the white house and pentagon had been want to go seeing aal go for a while. >> david, the things leaking out from sources named and unnamed have to do with things that you often hear with these kind of big scalps being taken. micro management from the white house. interference, lack of access to the president. and so on and so on. what do you see happening that doomed chuck hagel? >> well, i agree with heather that there were several reasons. but at the core the problem is the united states is less safe two years ago than it was -- less safe now than it was two years ago.
and it is not chuck hagel's problem. this is the white house that has led to this. it's white house decision that his made this happen. chuck hagel in, my view, is just a scapegoat if a weak isness in policy and a weakness in leadership that is lead to go countries around the world being more willing to take on the united states. >> mark, i always ones enter this when a cabinet secretary goes. are they supposed to be telling the president things or is the president supposed to be saying here is my miami policy carry it out? it's not clear in the case of chuck hagel which direction the impetus was supposed to go? >> it's never binary like that, ray. the fact of the matter is when don rumsfeld left after a drubbing in the midterms under president bush in 2000 suction, he departed and at the same time the policy changed we went with a surge in to iraq, that had a sorts of december recipients and common sense approach to it. the issue
now is, know that secretary hague is on his way out the door. will there be a similar change in policy or will the white house say basically policy is fine, which secretary hagel by the way said last week and, this change in personnel will be all we need to do. a lot of people i have talked to in the hint gone and elsewhere don't think it's going to be sufficient. >> you have been around for a lot of these transitions . is some of it to let off steam distract from general unhappiness with the direction that a department of government is going in and sort of a symbolic decapitation where you take out the chief and get a clean start with somebody else? >> there was a lot of theater at the white house today when secretary hagel said his goodbyes, you had him flanked by the president and vice president. there was an awkward smile on hagel's face during the entire operation. and an awkward hug with the
president when it was all over you got the sense that despite what they say, these aren't two bosom buddies. >> you are nodding your head why that reaction so quickly? >> this is where i really disagree with dave for identification a couple of reasons. first, as you can see from the sheer volume of nasty fighting in the press from anonymous sources in the past couple of months the levels of animosity between top members of the white house team and hagel wag real and growing. i would argue that for a press who has been fairly reluctant to push people out the door and change members of his team that's what pushed this over the edge. and second on the actual policy side, what's interesting is that you haven't heard from any of the pro-boots on the ground folks, what boots on the ground is going to do. hagel's level of alarmism actually isn't matched by what's coming out of the inning testimony generals community.
and so if you have someone out there who ultimately isn't willing or able to join up with the whys house line, them, yeah, you are gone. that's how washington works. >> but the did very generals david, was it really that wide when we talk about who is going to do the fighting? there are a couple of thoroughs but one has to emerge from that. it's not as if somebody is saying the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, somebody else is saying the opposite and you are all going to go standout on the shore to see who is right tomorrow. this -- a policy will come out, right? >> i don't see any real policy differences here. in fact i think secretary hagel was a very faithful executers of the policies the president put in place, he sometimes made what people in the white house thought were verbal missteps but he was doing what the president wanted. the president want aid quieter pentagon. the president wanted a less demanding pentagon and with chuck hagel he got it. but what the president also got was a weaker united states.
and that wasn't chuck hagel's fault. and it's not just about boots on the ground in syria or issues iraq, this is the entire world. this is putin going after ukraine. going after cremia. this is the president of china pushing its neighbors around. this is countries around. world taking advantage of what they see is open space being left by the administration that's not providing the leadership that the world needs. >> by it wasn't clear at any time with any of those places that, david, that david ablebly mentioned, mark what the united states' response was that. chuck hagel wasn't going to order an invasion of donetsk. >> hagel was the right guy at the right time two years ago. we were winding down two wars, we were dealing with a threat of sequestration to our military as well as other peelses of the government. but i talked to a recently retired four started to who said as isis began to loom .
hagel might not have bee been te right quite for the mission. we forget the attitude in this country about how weary the public has been with the wars. in afghanistan and iraq, we are constantly defined by calendars and countries. when the fight against isis may actually be much broader and prolonged than that. even if it's not an all-out war with divisions masss against divisions there will be a lot of drones and special operators perhaps for decades to come . i don't know that the country has come to grips with that and i don't know that secretary hagel and the white house were seeping from the same sheet of music, wrapped paul said we need a declaration of war, granted only for a year which compounds the problem, this will be a persistent lengthy challenge to this country. and how we deal with it is going to determine to what degree we succeed. >> it is fascinating how quickly war wire weariness can turn around. quick.
>> what mark saying is what i think is wrong with david's critique is that we are shifting from an era in which you have a military problem like putin in ukraine it will is have a military solution, nobody thinks there is a military solution to what's going on in ukraine, nobody thinks a u.s. inning invf ukraine is a good idea. the public is anxious, confused and war weary and the pressure there puts on the administration creates a mace match with hagel and the in fighting. >> i am not really sure that healther and i disagree here . these are problems. what they need is leadership and clear strategy. as you said a few minutes ago, ray, what are we actually doing? no one really knows, the president has admitted that he doesn't have a straited i didn't for iraq. and that's the case over and over again, we don't have a strategy, we don't have the right kind of leadership. that's the real problem here.
>> the good news is compared to karzai or the situations that we left behind in iraq or the situation in yemen, that david references, we have got a much better player in the president who is frankly spatter smarter and more in tune, that's the good news, that's foundation we didn't have in these other cases on the other hand, there are still significant forces in afghanistan that don't just want us gone.
they want the values and structures we represent gone. so, you know, my optimism is mild. >> is it clear, mark, that anybody else in i s.a.p. will want to stay besides the united states. >> the united states is always the long pole in the military tents f we leave people leave. if we go in pima tends to accompany us. the problem in afghanistan it's been a problem since october 7th of 2001 when we first went in. the taliban have safe havens in pakistan, that was never dealt with after 10, 12, 13 years there. that remainses a persistent sore that no amount of mixin fixing afghanistan will solve. that's the same issue in syria compared to iraq, they have the safe haven. the air strikes in recent months have hit on it a little bit. this gets back to the motion, that is a broader con 234reubg9. that can't be defined by jury-rigged borders saying on this side of the boarder we'll
do this on, that side we'll do that. it's definitely broader than that and we need hey more macro approach. >> but none of this really those do with chuck hagel. are you agreeing with david? >> what i am saying when you look at the obama strategy in part of the world you have to look hard to find any of chuck hagel's fingerprints on it. that's why i suggest when he leaves is anything going to change ? there are doubts in the pentagon that anything is going to change, assuming the president picks someone who is in line with him and assuming john mccain doesn't glow blow a gas get and confirms the new secretary of defense. >> we'll talk about that after in break. when we return more on the fight in syria and iraq against isil. what the next secretary will have on his or her desk from the first day on the job what a nuisance at leadership and large
am ray suarez, there will be a new u.s. secretary of defense before too long. former senator chuck hagel the first enlisted man to serve at the top civilian job at the pentagon will day on until a replacement is named. but the work of fighting isil, finishing the job in afghanistan and continuing the work of streamlining the forces will fall to someone else. we are looking at the job going forward with david, former deputy assistants secretary of defense for afghanistan and pakistan think heather of the new america foundation. and mark thompson, national security reporter for time magazine. and mark, what is the state of play in the iraq-syria mission. we have talked about afghanistan. there have been a lot of developments there, we are now bombing syria, which we hadn't been before. where do things stands? >> as marty dempsey the chairman of the joint chiefs said, first we do a rack an iraq and then s.
he sounds like mull minute end the former chairman in syria says we do iraq and in afghanistan we do what we can. plainly dempsey is concerned that when push comes to shove in the iraqi security forces try to retake mosul, the second largest city in iraq perhaps early next year, they will need u.s. ground troops a limited number to help them out. that's a point of tension between the pentagon and white house. it was dempsey who kept making this argument, it really wasn't hagel. it was very interesting when you go to the hill if it were dempsey and hagel it was dempsey speaking out general eighth the news, upsetting the white house no, the hagel. when hagel would go to the hill with kerry, it was john kerry the secretary of state that would generally do a lot of talking. so hagel really was in the background and maybe that's what the president wanted but the pentagon doesn't work well when you have a weak civilian leader like that.
>> i have heard both theories of the case, that the president wanted someone who was going to be quiet and less all public figure on their own. that the white house wanted to o have a much bigger hasn't and in effect shrunk the job. or shank the job whatever it's supposed to be. >> both of these can be true at once, this is washington after all. i think maybe there was a misunderstanding of how small the job could be from the white house perspective while still being big enough to command respect at the pepped ann gone which is what mark is saying, and you have lots and lots of folks at the pentagon know very well how to work the press on the hill if something is happening that they don't like. it does seem to me that some of the grumbling coming out of the pentagon that got louder and loudelouderlouder and louder man because of the weakness or quietness which isn't the same thing as weakness as hagel defenders were all over the press saying. but at the same time, that what
was obama asked for, maybe not understanding that the pentagon is not actually a department that you can run that way. >> reporter: does the presidenting nature of what is happening in syria and iraq, argue for the president moving quickly to name somebody new and trying to get him confirmed as quickly as possible. >> it definitely does. a lame duck secretary like this is not good for the united states. it's not good for the president and certainly not good for second hagel eager. so moving quickly is really important. but moving quickly, with a republican congress, that has a whole host of problems with this president, it may be more difficult than it should be. >> well, there is going to be a -- well, a republican running every committee in the senate. starting in just a few weeks. how big a factor is that? these questions around the appointment? who it is, who can get confirmed and so on? >> my hope would be that for the national security position of the secretary of defense is that it won't be baying deal. that the members of the senate of the armed services committee
and the entire senate will see this has something that they have to put their politics aside and ratify, approved somebody who is competentes and i think the competent and the names out there are people that are really good and i have a then won't happen. >> and the names in. >> my smelly work for him she's tremendous, ash carter i also worked for him. they are both good, strong people and they think strategically. again, i am disagree with heather here. i don't think this is all about inside washington. i think this was because at the heart of it, this happened ministration has a failure of strategic thinking it doesn't know where at any point to be in. world. it keeps moving from situation to situation. michelle and ashton think big and my concern is they may think two big for the president. >> those are the two big nails i keep hearing today. is there anybody else on the medium list? >> not really serious, jack reid has said he doesn't want do it. but they always say that,
perhaps he can be talk in to it. but other than those three, had aren't much. i want to go back to something david i had mentioned in terms of confirming a new secretary of defense, i covered john towers confirmation hearing to serve the first president bush as defense secretary. this was a time when people said politics stops at the water's edge there were sketchy details regarding tower and his drinking and womanizing but those issues never would have kept a defense secretary out before 1989 but it did keep him out. and my concern looking at what is looming here, is that the folks on the hill may be so eager to stick it to the president that the fact is politics will not stop at the water' edge just as it didn't not -- >> that's heather's cue because you served under president clinton and all during the '90s they point today the tower nomination as the opening of that pandora's box.
>> the thing about the tower confirmation is there were real issues whether they were bigger than other issues that had been there and not been addressed in the past is a different question, so i will be a little contemporarian here, i a i'm huge michelle fan, ash carter also a very defense i want collect you would. if i am in the white house and want to play it safe. or some say it will be a political fight i look for i a senator or member of congress to nominate and so i have my own sort of dark horse list of carl levin who is just stepping down as a very well regarded chair of senate arm services, though he's older. if you wanted new blood you go for tim kane, adam smith from the house, kristen jill gillibrand. >> those are interesting names. mark taking notes for your story that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story," thank for being with us and thanks a lot.
in washington i am ray suarez. announcer: this is al jazeera. hello, welcome to the newshour, i'm martine dennis in doha. our top stories - suicide bombers kill at least 60 people. we'll go live to abuja. plus... ..protests turn to riots in ferguson, missouri, after a grand jury deeds not to put a white policeman on trial for shooting dead an unarmed black