So the President is looking for his equivalent of Denis Healey, the Labour Cabinet minister who in the 1968 defense review announced an all but total withdrawal of British forces from “east of Suez” – a phrase that in the imperial imagination is less geographic than psychological.
Kipling’s English Tommy on the road to Mandalay:
“Ship me somewheres east of Suez…”
And then a cheeseparing defense minister says: No, we won’t. Not now, not ever again. It’s over.
Who would you hire for the Pentagon’s east-of-Suez moment? According to the Washington Post, Obama picked Hagel to “bridge the partisan divide.”