Monday, November 24, was a momentous day. Judging from CNN and Fox News the decision to not prosecute Officer Wilson in Ferguson was the only thing that happened that day. In Boston, it was the signing of free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to long term Red Sox contracts. Viewed from Moscow or the Islamic State, the big news was the forced resignation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
I. Excerpts from the KGB report to Vladimir Putin:
-- President Obama's third Secretary of Defense - Robert Gates (2006-2011; a heavyweight); Leon Paneta (February 2011 - February 2013; career politician; short stint at the CIA); Chuck Hagel (February 2013 - November 2014; a lightweight).
-- Decorated enlisted Vietnam War veteran; successful businessman; Republican Senator from Nebraska. Served on Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Senators Obama, Biden.
-- Early supporter of President Obama's desire to exit Iraq and Afghanistan. Accepted role to downsize the military (equipment cancellations, reduction of officer ranks), implement social policies among the troops (gender equality; gay/lesbian rights), and expand green energy use.
-- Overruled by White House at last minute on plan to bomb Syria for chemical weapons viloations; upset with White House for not supporting Ukrainian government; sought a strong response to ISIS; sought clarity about policy in Syria.
-- No friend of Russia - good riddance.
- The Replacement
-- Leading candidates rejecting the position. Former Defense policy leader Michele Flournoy; Senator Jack Reed. All authority rests in Obama's inner circle; little chance to change failing policies; requirement for Senate confirmation and twilight of presidency preclude a candidate of import.
- The National Security Team
-- Dominated by Susan Rice as gatekeeper for President Obama. Rewarded with position as National Security advisor for lead role in lying about the attack at Benghazi in 2012. Little strategic vision. Loyal. Loyal. Loyal.
* Subordinate Ben Rhodes - top deputy and speechwriter for Obama since 2007. No real experience.
* Subordinate Tony Blinken - top deputy; background as political operative. No real experience. Nominated to become Deputy Secretary of State over choice of Secretary Kerry.
-- Second in import is Denis McDonough, Obama's Chief of Staff. Background as legislative staff member; some foreign policy education, but no real world experience. Sees everything in domestic political terms - as does Obama.
-- Gen Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October 2011. Supports women in combat roles; elimination of anti-Islamic content in training. Advocate for allowing limited "boots on the ground" to combat ISIS. Tolerated - at least for now - for occasionally expressing views of professionals.
-- John Kerry - Secretary of State; former presidential candidate; former chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Formidable, but consigned to failed Iran negotiations.
-- Joe Biden - Vice President. Buffoon.
Conclusion - Russia is marginally better off without Hegel, one of few in the Obama administration who understood or cared about Russian objectives. Sacking is statement to others that strategic clarity is not wanted. The Russian door remains open.
II. Excerpts from the report to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of ISIS:
O glorious caliph, behold the news. Confusion and fear have consumed the military leader of the Great Satan. One powerless eunoch is to be replaced by another more powerless. Victory will soon be ours.
The one Thanksgiving You Tube video with troops abroad comes from Germany. Nothing from the front lines - a comment in itself about the country's priorities in 2014.
bill bowen - 11/28/14