Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hagel in the Headlines

by Kyle Michaelis
Sen. Chuck Hagel's weekend attention-grabbing has obviously worked. At this moment, his remarks this morning on ABC's "This Week" are the lead story on both the Drudge Report (GOP Senator Says Iraq Looking Like Vietnam) and the Huffington Post (Sen. Hagel: "We're Not Winning"..."We Are Locked Into A Bogged Down Problem" Like Vietnam...).

Impressive. Most impressive. It's amazing how much of a big deal one Republican senator's breaking with the party line has become in George W. Bush's hyper-partisan America. All this just for applying a little bit of common sense to the Iraq problem and admitting it doesn't look good for us. Of course, Hagel continues to try his best to spin the war into being something more than a total mistake and one of the worst foreign policy blunders of all time, but one gets the feeling it's only to save his skin for supporting the damnable thing in the first place.

But here, let's allow the man to speak for himself (as reported by the AP):
A leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate said Sunday that the war in Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and is looking more like the Vietnam conflict from a generation ago.

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who received two Purple Hearts and other military honors for his service in Vietnam, reiterated his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to leave Iraq.

Hagel scoffed at the idea that U.S. troops could be in Iraq four years from now at levels above 100,000, a contingency for which the Pentagon is preparing.

"We should start figuring out how we get out of there," Hagel said on "This Week" on ABC. "But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

Hagel said "stay the course" is not a policy. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning," he said....

Hagel, who was among those who advocated sending two to three times as many troops to Iraq when the war began in March 2003, said a stronger military presence by the U.S. is not the solution today.

"We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," Hagel said. "The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have"....

"What I think the White House does not yet understand - and some of my colleagues - the dam has broke on this policy," Hagel said. "The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."

The Army's top general, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press that the Army is planning for the possibility of keeping the current number of soldiers in Iraq - well over 100,000 - for four more years as part of preparations for a worst-case scenario....

Hagel described the Army contingency plan as "complete folly."

"I don't know where he's going to get these troops," Hagel said. "There won't be any National Guard left ... no Army Reserve left ... there is no way America is going to have 100,000 troops in Iraq, nor should it, in four years."

Hagel added: "It would bog us down, it would further destabilize the Middle East, it would give Iran more influence, it would hurt Israel, it would put our allies over there in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in a terrible position. It won't be four years. We need to be out."

For the Republican party line with which Hagel has broken (in words, yet not at all in deeds), the same story goes on to mention:
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said the U.S. is winning in Iraq but has "a way to go" before it meets its goals there.

Well, at least we don't have a stooge like that representing us in the Senate (3 in Congress...but hey, no state's perfect). Stay tuned. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this: Hagel either backing off when undesirables use his own words for their purposes or perhaps - maybe, just maybe - building a bit of a coalition between like-minded Democrats who have been saying the same things for months and those last bastions of reasonable Republicans who haven't totally lost their grasp on reality.


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