There has been a huge, vicious, and well co-ordinated campaign against the appointment of Chuck Hagel, the decorated Republican Vietnam hero, being appointed as Barack Obama's Secretary of Defense. Ostensibly, this has been based on his relatively dovish views on the Iraq War, defending Israel, and attacking Iran. But according to David Brooks in today's New York Times, all these policy considerations are "secondary".
The truth, Brooks says, is that Obama wants political cover for beginning the decades-long process of reducing America's expenditure on the military. The cost of healthcare, which Americans essentially approve of because they like it, even if they are in denial about the cost, means that the country has to make very great cuts elsewhere. That includes at the Pentagon. This is the real reason that the President and his coterie of advisers plumped for Hagel. As ever, Brooks is very much worth reading.