George F. Will: Questions for Chuck Hagel

Published: January 17, 2013
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— Congress' power to declare war has atrophied since it was last exercised (against Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary on June 5, 1942). Should Congress authorize America's wars?

— In 2011, President Obama, using a passive syntax, said our military “is being volunteered by others to carry out missions” in Libya. The original rationale for this — before mission meander embraced regime change — was “R2P,” the responsibility to protect civilians. Do you support applying this doctrine to Syria? If removing Moammar Gaddafi was an important U.S. interest, why was it, and when did it become so? Do you dispute the illegality of Obama's ignoring the War Powers Resolution that requires military interventions to end after 60 days, absent congressional approval?

— Speaking of the imperial presidency, do you believe that the use of drones to target specific individuals means presidents have an unreviewable power to kill whomever they define as enemies? Do you favor “signature strikes” wherein drones attack not identifiable individuals but groups of young males whose characteristics match the “signature” of terrorists?

— In 1949, one of NATO's founders said its purpose was “to keep the Americans in (Europe), the Germans down and the Russians out..” What is its purpose now? Given that U.S. military spending is three times larger than the combined spending of NATO's other 27 members, is it not obvious that those nations feel no threat?

Bonus question: Might fewer than 54,000 U.S. forces in Germany suffice to defend that country, or Western Europe, from whatever threat they are there to deter?

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP

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