Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was fired amidst significant foreign-policy leaks on Saturday morning.
The New York Times reported that the United States will expand its mission in Afghanistan in 2015, with US troops participating in direct combat with the Taliban.
This flies in the face of Obama’s very public announcement six months ago in the Rose Garden that US troops in Afghanistan would be shifting into a “training and advisory” role next year.
American airpower will furthermore support Afghan forces. This bombshell was strategically leaked ahead of a holiday week in which Americans will be shopping for bargains in a very bleak economy.
The Afghanistan reversal is a new hawkish posture and Hagel’s departure after he helped to manage a withdrawal from Afghanistan and shrink the Pentagon budget, will be regarded as a logical step.
Obama’s decision, made during a furious White House debate in recent weeks with his senior national security advisers, came over the objection of some of his top civilian aides, who argued that American lives should not be put at risk next year in any operations against the Taliban when Al Qaeda is actually rising in Iraq.
But the military pushed back and curiously Hagel’s departure directly coincides with the new aggressive attack plan for Afghanistan.
ISIS’s rapid emergence, it’s unhindered oil sales and other foreign-policy crises possibly contributed to Hagel’s ouster.
The United States is changing course toward a more aggressive foreign policy: it is recommitting to the war in Afghanistan, which is by far the country’s longest, spanning two two-term presidencies.
The number of troops in Iraq has doubled, and the administration will soon seek an authorization from a Congress that is extremely unlikely to include a provision that outlaws direct combat by US troops, in a distinctly interventionist climate.