by Ray Fleming

T WO of the most important positions in President Obama's administration are currently unfilled because of delaying tactics by the Republican Senators in Congress. The President's choices of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary and John Brennan as CIA director have to be confirmed by the US Senate -- a procedure which although thorough in its questioning of the candidates almost always leads to approval but on this occasion has been stalled by a degree of hostility towards them and a deliberate delay in approval until the end of the Senate's current recess. Mr Hagel, although a former Republican Senator, has had the roughest treatment from his former colleagues and even if he receives the necessary formal approval it will probably be by a narrow majority; his main offence in the eyes of the Republicans is his open-mind on relations with Israel. Mr Brennan's main problem is that he has not provided enough information about the Benghazi killing of the US Ambassador to Libya last September -- an issue that the Republicans simply cannot leave alone. Leading the Republican opposition has been Senator John McCain who was also very hostile towards Hillary Clinton when she made her final appearance as Secretary of State in Congress a few weeks ago. It is difficult to avoid the thought that McCain has still not got over his defeat by Barack Obama for the presidency.