“The president wants someone whose judgment he respects on the big questions of war and peace,” said Philip D. Zelikow, a senior State Department official under Mr. Bush and now a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
Obama was wrong about the surge - why should he want a guy hanging around who was right? He tried that with Gates, and all he got was the Hokey-Pokey surge in Afghanistan. Better to have a united cabinet of pacificsts. Sure, if sanctions don't work against Iran Hagel is hardly the sort of hawk that will scare Iran, but Obama won't be nominating a hawk anyway. Back to the Times:
As secretary of defense, Mr. Hagel would not be directly involved in designing or enforcing those sanctions [which he opposes]; that is the work of the Treasury and State Departments. But he would be in charge of one of the other major elements of pressure: the huge buildup of American naval might, antimissile capability and special operations in the Persian Gulf. That force is intended not only to keep the Strait of Hormuz open but also to make credible Mr. Obama’s threat to use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“So far, Obama’s big problem is that the threat to use force has not seemed credible,” a former official who has worked on Iran issues with Mr. Hagel and frequently advises the administration on Iran said last week. “The question is whether if Chuck is defense secretary, the Iranians would take seriously the thought that he is willing to use force if it comes to that.”
If the plan is to force the Iranian leaders to step down because they have hurt themselves laughing, Hagel is a brilliant pick.