The most important foreign policy matter in the next year, or possibly two, is how most effectively to prevent the Islamic Republic of iran from being able to manufacture nuclear weapons. One way that is being attempted is to impose sanctions -- sanctions that ought to have been imposed years ago, but in the heedlessness of two successive administrations, were not. And the aim is to convince the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran that these sanctions will continue to be in effect, whether or not they obtain nuclear weapons, so that the Iranian economy will necessarily sink.
A related theme should be, but is not, that of convincing the Shi'a rulers of Iran that their hope of becoming the leaders of the Islmaic world are never to be realized. If they look around the world, they will see that Sunni Muslims are attacking Shi'a in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Afghanistan, and as a widespread popular sport, in Pakistan. Do the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran not realize that while the Sunnis would be delighted -- what could be better? -- to see some kind of exchange, the more destructive the better, between hated Israel and hated Shi'a Iran - even if the Islamic Republic of Iran were to inflict great damage on Israel (and suffer terribly in return) it would not win it any points from Sunni Muslims. They would enjoy the spectacle, feel the pleasure and go on, hating Israel, and the Shi'a, as before.
Now comes Barack Obama, thinking that having initially chosen the unpleasant in all respects-- personally unpleasant, according to many former members of his staff -- Chuck Hagel, he has to demonstrate that he will not back down. In other words, he has chosen to be stubborn about appointing someone who is not only deeply unsympathetic, to put it mildly, to Israel, as his votes in the Senate, and his statements, over a long period, demostrate. Obama may think that Chuck Hagel is just fine because he was opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he was opposed for the wrong reasons. He was opposed not because there are far better, and cheaper, ways, to deal with the Camp of Islam, but because he doesn't see a problem with the forces of Islam. Perhaps he is merely ignorant, but his ignorance is likely to be wilful because no one who has strong anti-Israel feelings is going to allow himself to realize that it is Islam, the Camp of Islam, that is the problem, and that Israel is only the most visible of the victims of the world-wide Jihad. That's something a Chuck Hagel could never understand, and doesn't want to, because he's pre-programmed to dislike Israel and will not allow himself to come to a right understanding of the meaning and menace of Islam because that would require him to see Israel in a new light. He can't do it.
Now will the appointment of Chuck Hagel make the Iranians more likely to think they had better deal with the American government now, or would that appointment be taken by them as a signal that the sanctions have been imposed unwillingly by the Obama Administration, forced to act by Congress, and that they now have a friend, or at least not a relentless and clever enemy, at the top of the Pentagon.
What folly Obama has now committed. It's stupid. And it's unforgivable.