No Bob Gates

01.15.13

Chuck Hagel Isn't a Manager

Alan Goldsmith compares Chuck Hagel to recent Secretaries of Defense, finding the Senator's qualifications lacking to run the huge bureaucracy based in the Pentagon. Unlike, say, critiques from the American Enterprise Institute's Danielle Pletka, who casually suggested Hagel is anti-Semitic (or that he's believed to be so by serious people), Goldsmith keeps his charge simple and fair. I have no strong rebuttal for Hagel's lack of experience managing world-scale bureaucracies.

President Obama’s outgoing secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, directed the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of Management and Budget, served as White House chief of staff, and chaired the House Budget Committee. Mr. Panetta’s predecessor, Robert Gates, also directed the CIA, worked for many years in the intelligence community and the National Security Council, and served as president of Texas A&M University.

Donald Rumsfeld, appointed secretary of defense by President George W. Bush in 2001, had already headed the Pentagon once before, from 1975 to 1977. Mr. Rumsfeld also served as White House chief of staff, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and U.S. ambassador to NATO, and held senior executive positions at three large corporations. Many other former defense secretaries, such as William J. Perry, Les Aspin, Dick Cheney, and Caspar Weinberger, were also highly experienced and accomplished.