Analysis: Hagel, the Middle East and the White House
Minutes after US President Barack Obama announced his choice of Chuck Hagel to be the next US defense secretary Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney took the podium for his daily press briefing and was confronted with questions on the Republican former senator’s views on Iran and Israel...
And on Iran, Obama has repeatedly stressed the importance of imposing stringent sanctions and noted that military force remains an option.
Hagel, in a 2006 op-ed, spoke of the many dangers posed by a military strike on Iran and argued it would not solve the problem. He also voted against several (though not all) pieces of legislation imposing sanctions during his time in the Senate. More recently he said the military option should be left on the table.
Despite these differences, generally speaking cabinet secretaries follow the direction of the White House, and that’s particularly so when the occupant is Obama.
“Barack Obama is the most controlling, dominating president [on] foreign policy since Richard Nixon,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East advisor with the State Department, now a Woodrow Wilson Center scholar. “It doesn’t matter what Chuck Hagel thinks on Iran sanctions, Hamas, Hezbollah.”
But even if the president mostly relies on his White House team and his own counsel in making national security decisions, the defense secretary does have a role in policy.
“The secretary of defense is a key member of the cabinet, a key member of the national security team, who has a very important voice at the table in foreign policy deliberations and in particular the use of force,” said Robert Danin, a former National Security Council advisor on Middle East issues...
[link to www.jpost.com