The former Republican senator can expect a bumpy ride as he answers questions on how he would play the role of President Obama’s new defence secretary. Hagel needs to persuade at least five of his former colleagues to support him to avoid a filibuster that would torpedo his appointment.
Ben Fenton, from the FT’s Live News Desk, and Johanna Kassel follow the hearing.
Facing a grilling: Chuck Hagel (Getty)
Chuck Hagel’s keenly awaited confirmation hearing on Thursday to be the next US defence secretary is likely to be dominated by the hot-button issues that have already got him into trouble with some of his fellow Republicans (and a few Democrats) – his position on Israel, his opposition to Iran sanctions, his criticism of the Iraq war and his views on gays.
If so, that will be a shame, because it would be both interesting and important to hear him explain what his brand of “principled realism” actually means for US foreign policy. The hearing could provide a seminal debate on America’s global role. Here are ten questions he should be asked.
1) Defence budget. You said in September 2011 that the defence budget was “bloated”. That was before the Pentagon announced $485bn in cuts over the next decade. Is the budget still bloated? Are more cuts possible or necessary?
2) Pentagon cuts. To meet the cuts that have already been announced, will the Pentagon need to axe some important capabilities? Can the US still afford all of its aircraft carrier groups? Is the F-35 jet fighter too expensive to support? Does the US need such a large presence in Europe? Read more
Welcome to our rolling coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration for another four years as US president, complete with agenda-setting speech. By Johanna Kassel in New York and Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington with contributions from FT correspondents. All times are EST.
5.40 As we wrap things up for the night, a round up of the best the FT has to offer about President Obama’s second inauguration. Thanks for joining us
5.30 As the parade continues, running about 45 minutes behind schedule, the arrival of the president and first lady at the balls will be delayed. We’ll leave them to review the rest of the floats and bands as the sun sets on Washington.
Welcome to our rolling coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration for another four years as US president, complete with agenda-setting speech. By Tom Burgis, Lina Saigol and Ben Fenton with contributions from FT correspondents. All times are EST.
11.00 For ease of reading, we’re going to switch into a new post. Like the transition between two presidential terms, this is meant to happen seamlessly. Just click here to go on reading the latest updates from our colleagues in DC.
A suicide is always a tragedy, but that of 26-year-old Aaron Swartz on Friday has reverberated with particular force across the internet. That’s partly because of the enormous sense of waste – he was a tech prodigy, helping develop the code for RSS when he was just 14 – and partly because the internet was Swartz’s home, where he hung out and talked to people and built things that many of us use today. But it’s also because of a looming and controversial court case, which his family believe contributed to his decision to take his own life – and which put him at the frontline of an ongoing battle over how much of the world’s information should be free. Read more
Britain’s debate about the EU is not just about Europe – it is also about the US.For the fiercest eurosceptics – who want Britain to leave the EU – the US is the promised land across the ocean. They have long insisted that it is a mistake for Britain to tie itself to a sclerotic Europe with an alien political culture. Instead the UK should look to the English-speaking world and, above all, to its “special relationship” with America.
The anti-Europeans’ heroine is Margaret Thatcher. It was Lady Thatcher who said “no, no, no” to ever-closer union in Europe – but “yes, yes, yes” to the US of President Ronald Reagan. The picture of Ronnie and Maggie, tootling around together in a golf buggy, is a powerful, nostalgia-filled image of the “special relationship” at its warmest. Read more
Demonstrations over censorship in China and Obama’s pick for US defence secretary
Could the demonstrations over censorship at Southern Weekend newspaper be a significant turning point in the battle for free speech in China? Kathrin Hille reports from Guangzhou. In Washington, President Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel, to be the next US defence secretary. But the former Republican Senator is a controversial figure, with some pro-Israel groups going so far as to accuse him of antisemitism. So why select him, and why now? Washington-based diplomatic correspondent Geoff Dyer joins Gideon Rachman to discuss. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
If you needed confirmation that American liberals and conservatives inhabit parallel universes, just consider the reaction to last week’s deal on the fiscal cliff. Conservatives saw a ruthless Barack Obama, ramming through his agenda. Liberals lamented a limp surrender by the president. Read more
Barack Obama’s decision to press ahead with Chuck Hagel as the next Pentagon chief is a sign of a confident president – he feels strong enough to face down the influential pro-Likud groups in Washington. At a time when Mr Obama’s liberal critics are worried he will cave into Republican blackmail on the sovereign debt ceiling, he is showing spine by sticking with Mr Hagel. It also risks provoking some of Mr Obama’s allies: many of the former Republican senators’s biggest detractors are in the Democratic Party.
The nomination also tells us a lot about Mr Obama’s second term foreign policy goals. Following John Kerry’s nomination for the state department, the Obama national security team will now be headed by two decorated Vietnam war veterans both of whom are deeply sceptical of war. Unlike so many of their critics, both men were twice awarded Purple Hearts and both were nearly mortally wounded in combat. In Mr Hagel’s case this will give him credit with the starred generals, most of whom share his scepticism about war with Iran. Whatever exigencies hit the Persian Gulf in the coming months, Mr Obama’s two most senior department heads will be instinctively mistrustful of the military option. Read more