Cruising for a bruising?


Mark Mardell takes a closer look at President Obama's choices

Related Stories

The president has set himself up for another bruising fight with Congress.

He is already going to clash with lawmakers over the debt ceiling and spending. He has signalled he won't dodge a confrontation over guns and immigration. Now, his choice of two new cabinet members will mean a couple of fractious confirmation hearings.

The man he wants as defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, faces a real risk of being given the thumbs down and will certainly get a rough ride.

A decorated Vietnam veteran, he has an aversion to war and a view of Israel that falls short of what many Republicans demand.

Not that Mr Obama's pick for CIA director, John Brennan, will be uncontroversial.

He has been the president's main man on national security since 2008 and is a CIA veteran of 25 years so no-one doubts he knows his way around.

But liberals say he was too close to George W Bush's administration - particularly the faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq war and the torture of terrorist suspects.

But any trouble he has will be minor compared to Mr Hagel.

The former Republican senator is a renegade to many in his own party. He broke with them over the Iraq war. He has been accused of anti-Semitism for saying that: "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here, [Congress]. I'm a United States senator. I'm not an Israeli senator."

He has been reluctant about sanctions on Iran and labelling Hamas a terrorist group. Opponents say he is "anti-Israel".

Supporters say he has not anti-Israel, he just does not slavishly back the current right-wing government's policies.

If that wasn't enough, he is in trouble from the other side for anti-gay comments, for which he has apologised.

Perhaps more significant than all of this, he would be a very reluctant war leader, on record as saying, in 2006, that taking military action against Iran "is not a viable, feasible, responsible option".

In 2002, talking about Iraq, he said: "Many of those who want to rush the country into war and think it would be so quick and easy don't know anything about war. They come at it from an intellectual perspective versus having sat in jungles or foxholes and watched their friends get their heads blown off. I try to speak for those ghosts of the past a little bit".

There is a lot for antagonistic senators to chew on, in an atmosphere where some are determined to block the president whenever they can.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

Is Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy about to bring back Blairism?

Those on the left think new Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy could be about to take the party back to the days of Tony Blair, says the BBC's Mark Mardell.

Read full article

More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • Comment number 303.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    220 Wise Intelligent
    Why has the US become almost ungovernable? Good question and one book that explains the historical trend, that everyone here should read is, “American Nations,” by Colin Woodard. It also explains why the GOP is almost extinct as a national party. Mods won’t allow ISBN, but you should be able to find it with this info.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Why were my comments removed. I have not been abusive. I note that racist rants that offer nothing to further debate are tolerated.

  • Comment number 300.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 299.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    179. sieuarlu et al
    There is a difference between defending the border and going abroad looking for a fight. As G. Washington said, we should do the former not the latter. He also advised against "foreign entanglements" not in our interest, just another anti-Israel Patriot President, I guess.

    PS until the PLO etc. change their rhetoric/intent we have to help Israel prevent Holocaust v 3.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    288:Vigil2010:The problem is that the mainstream media often deliberately distort what conservatives think and take their statements out of context or twist their comments to mean something they didn't say. Romney's comments about the 47% are an example of this. He said those people would probably vote for Obama out of concern for keeping their benefits so he would be better off focusing on others

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.



    Don't get discouraged by negatives”

    Not at all. It seemed to be an opportunity to remind those with short memories why the US is in Afghanistan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Main Street has a Question! It is said a Jewish Organization here in the United States has raised heavy money for years to build new Jewish Settlement Homes. Is this true? If so; What is the name of the Organization? And 'if so'; Is their Hidden Agenda a belief that God actually gave them "The Promised Land"? In addition, why are the Israelies so afraid of "Hagel" Is his statements too on target?

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    282:DavidinUSA:One of the benefits of living at the poverty line is that one doesn't spend money on travel. But seems to show that most of their problems are due to immigration.

    283:LSP:Since Afghanis started the war we are fighting back with everything we have. I do oppose random killing by drones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    277:SONICBOOMER:My understanding is that it is illegal for foreigners to provide financial help to US candidates. If they clearly and publicly support one side or the other, the people should be able to use that information to see who is where.

    280:All for All:We need equality of opportunity but not equality of results. We should, however, ensure that everyone has the necessities of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    ref 253 the only country in the middle east which has made sacrfices for peace is Isreal.

    they are not the problem, islamists are the problem. isalmaists are incapele ogfgoverning civilized people

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Can people acknowledge that Obama never wants to work with anyone desite his claims to the contrary.

    Eliminating the Israel question ( I have my own bias although I am right onthe subject) his refusal to ack Iran and other threats make his unsuitable

    He was not a major force in the senate just someone who was there for a number of years like an Ed markey or a Ted steevens

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    "You can't cooperate with one-issue partisans or collaborate on mutually acceptable results with them"

    Precisely why the US right does wish to cooperate with Ofailure and co. We need to survive the next 4 yrs and limit the damage he does.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.


    You have shown that you use terms, like corporate welfare, that you can neither define nor can show one concrete exmple of.

    You have also shown that you resort to name calling when you realize you have no coherent argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Obama needs to force the far-right GOP to explain their policies and motives. You can't cooperate with one-issue partisans or collaborate on mutually acceptable results with them. You can only force them to defend their position in public and let the nation see what their true motives and allegiances are.

  • Comment number 287.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    To help
    Not "befriend murderous"

    For centuries, known that the poor, especially poor amongst minorities visibly vulnerable, can be raised in fear & anger, under whatever flag might protect or advantage, Christian, Muslim, Nationalist, Capitalist, Liberationist, Anti-Terrorist, Anti-Anti-Terrorist, etc

    Yes, at same time address simplistic ritualistic follies

    But urgent to share, in peace

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    279, as chickenhawk is a phrase directed at bellicose Americans who support a war but work hard to avoid taking part/being drafted, you might be, I don't know, referring to yourself. I'm not American, I did serve in the UK forces if you must know. As to your other question, the long history of corporate welfare with the DoD is so widespread, well known, with a long history, I suggest you Google.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    PM: "The official long term Islamist Iran's rulers' policy is " to establish a global Sharia-based caliphate".

    Liberal Left's US haters may want to notice that in such a caliphate there's no place for atheists, agnostics or indifferents.

    Or even for moderate Muslims (e.g. Turks)"

    The number of negatives clearly indicates that murderous nukes' seeking ayatollahs have many friends here.


Page 1 of 16



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.