The Hagel-Brennan nominations, along with the nomination of Democratic Sen. John Kerry as secretary of State, suggest the continuation of a pragmatic and cautious foreign and national-security policy. Instead of boots-on-the-ground interventions, Obama would seem to want to expand the use of both remote strikes and Special Forces operations in the fight against Islamist terrorism.
In Washington, the Hagel nomination is seen as the most controversial of the three, with some Republicans accusing the former Nebraska senator of weaknesses – in his commitment to Israel and in his stance toward Iran and its advancing nuclear program. But Brennan’s Senate confirmation is likely to encounter a few bumps of its own.
“The great paradox here is that Hagel will face his opposition from the right, while Brennan’s will largely come from the left,” says Lawrence Korb, a defense policy expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington, who served in the Pentagon under the Reagan administration.