Chuck Hagel resigned as US defense secretary on Monday morning, and the Obama administration must be ecstatic that the Washington press is agrip with the perennial Beltway question: “Was he fired or did he quit?!”
After yet another weekend of news that the administration is expanding its war footing in the Middle East in secret, the White House yet again is exercising its power to avoid talking about what should be on the tip of the tongue of everyone: How are more troops going to solve a problem that 13 years of war have only made worse?
With Hagel’s resignation, hardly anyone is talking about the alarming story published Friday night by the New York Times, reporting that President Obama has ordered – in secret – that troops continue the Afghanistan War at least through 2015 … after announcing to the public months ago that combat operations would stop at the end of this year. Obama made his “This year we will bring America’s longest war to a responsible end” statement in the White House Rose Garden, on television, six months ago. The extension of the Afghan war was reportedly executed by a classified order.
Meanwhile, Obama was up there smiling next to Hagel on Monday, talking about how “reluctant” he is to see him go. The American president, like the one before him, is apparently reluctant to be upfront with the public about war.