Former US Defense secretary: 'American global leadership now is really nowhere'

Former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelSwalwell says he will convene a bipartisan 'blended cabinet' if elected president Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan For planet and country: National security's climate moment MORE on Wednesday ripped into President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE's policies, saying the "status of American global leadership now is really nowhere."

Hagel, speaking on CNN, made the comment in reference to Trump's attitude toward historical U.S. allies.


The former GOP senator from Nebraska who later served as Defense secretary during the Obama administration, said he thinks Trump "really doesn’t understand foreign policy."

"I think the proof of that is certainly in whatever his so-called Syrian policy is," he said. "Confusing at best, certainly chaotic. Dangerous, especially in a chaotic part of the world. When you make a decision like he did initially ... the consequences of that decision are astounding, as he has found out the last two weeks."

Hagel also cited what he characterized as the president's hostility toward NATO and desire to be tough on trade.

"It’s a unilateralism in a multilateral world that is very, very dangerous," Hagel said.

Trump's relationship with allies has come under increased scrutiny since the resignation of Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon reporters left in dark as Iran tensions escalate Trump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences MORE, who wrote in his resignation letter last month that the U.S. "cannot protect our interests" without "maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies."

“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held,” Mattis wrote. “Because you have the right to have a secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down.”

His resignation was prompted in large part by Trump's announcement that he was removing U.S. troops from Syria, a move that also sparked bipartisan criticism in Congress.

Trump initially signaled that the withdrawal would be immediate, but national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that U.S. troops won't leave Syria until the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is fully defeated.