As Chuck Hagel seeks support for his nomination to become Secretary of Defense, Bob Woodward has released a story about a White House trip the former Senator made in 2009. The Washington Post reports:
According to an account that Hagel later gave, and is reported here for the first time, he told Obama: “We are at a time where there is a new world order.
“We don’t control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they” — the military and diplomats — “tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date. You need to question our role. You need to question the military. You need to question what are we using the military for.”
Hagel warned the president about getting “bogged down” in Afghanistan and voiced concern over the deployment of 51,000 additional troops sent at the time to fight in the war.
The Post reports Hagel went so far as to say privately in 2011: “The president has not had commander-in-chief control of the Pentagon since Bush senior was president.”
Hagel is likely referring to Donald Rumsfeld’s battle for control of the military, both against generals and the president. The perception was that Bush was less the decider, and more a person to be advised of decisions already made.