Sen. Chuck Hagel

Yesterday I wrote that Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel would make a palatable presidential candidate in the 2008 election. He has an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post that illustrates what I’m talking about.

There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis — not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation — regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.

You can quibble about the “honorable intentions” part, but otherwise — he’s got it.

Sen. Hagel goes on to call for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq. He ends this way:

It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder — one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.

To squander this moment would be to squander future possibilities for the Middle East and the world. That is what is at stake over the next few months.

For the past several days Chris Matthews and his surrogates have complained that the Dems plan to “hide behind” the Baker commission. He is of course ignoring the fact that (a) the Dems can’t actually do anything about Iraq until January, and (b) even then they won’t have a veto-proof majority. It really would be better for everybody if there can be some bipartisan consensus in Congress on how to leave Iraq, and it makes sense to see if the Baker Commission comes up with something that a majority of both parties can get behind.

That said, I very much doubt the Baker Commission will deliver. As I wrote here, it appears the White House already may have co-opted the Iraq Study Group to force them to crank out more “strategy for victory” crapola. I do not believe for one minute that President Bush will accept any recommendations that involve withdrawal from Iraq before his term is up. And Bush can no more “build a bipartisan consensus” than he can fly. So the fight will be on, no matter what.

But it would be to everyone’s advantage if at least some Republicans in Congress join the fight on our side, and Senator Hagel’s op ed gives me some hope that can happen.

19 thoughts on “Sen. Chuck Hagel

  1. Independents were the pivotal group in the last election. Both sides turned out their base, but the Independents voted overwhelmingly anti-incumbent. This is who the Republicans need to woo.The question is whether the Republicans will straight-arm the more conservative elemnts in their party and move to the center (smart politics, even if you lack any values) or move further right as you have predicted Maha (and I agreed). The selection of Rep leadership suggests a move to the right pole. BUT, there can be a mutiny among Republicans who see a loosing strategy emerging from their stale leadership. Will the size of the mutiny, if combined with the Democratic majority be enough to overcome a presidential veto in some issues, like Iraq.

    It’s been said before: It’s gonna be an interesting 2 years.

  2. I have such a high regard for you, Maha; but, I am a Virgo. And, my nitpikking has made obnoxious to what few friends I have left. Chuck Hagel spells his name with a “a”–Hagel. He seems to have a voice of reason; but, few seem to be listening to him. Nevertheless, the commentary is A+ as usual. I just wish at least some of the Bush worshippers could see how little regard he has for the lives being lost for his stupidity.

  3. It is important to call a failure a failure, and get out of Iraq.

    And, for future sanity’s sake, it is important to thoroughly examine the complicity of so many different American power groups in their enabling this Iraq fiasco to develop in the first place. Those groups include rubber-stamp Republicans, craven Democrats, lying constitution-shredding administration power-wielders [think Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld…and Gonsales], cheerleader non-investigative non-crtitical media, military/industrial contractors, Cheney’s oil cabal, and Israel’s blind-eye-to-humanitarian-solutions defenders/promoters [particularly the hubris-embracing neocons]. This is not just about a brain-challenged adolescent president having his way.

    America needs a complete reckoning of how we failed to have adequate debate on the Iraq issue from the beginning and up until the present time. Seeing now that so many in those complicit groups are hoping to abandon the failure without taking some of the blame, or even apologizing to the American people and our soldiers on the killing fields, we need more focus on all the strands that wove this mess….that is, if we are to survive this failure and learn from it rather than repeat it.

  4. Thank God for Hagel. I’ve been hearing so much insane nonsense from the Republican side, that it’s refreshing to hear someone beginning to make sense. I hope he and his message gets some traction.

    Agree with Donna, it’s far, far more than just the boy-president. The critical part of it is the media, whether they’ll do their job and shine the spotlight on the filthy mess, or whether we’ll get yet more “let’s pretend”.

    A critical goal for the Dems should be to break the concentration of media ownership. This chart should help explain why things have gone so awry. In essence, it’s why we’re all here getting our news and analysis from small operations like the glorious Mahablog.

  5. I agree, Donna. I think another aspect of a reckoning would be to readjust our direction going forward. They are trying to put lipstick on this pig called Iraq and it prevents them from accepting their failures, and the possiblities of minimizing their failure. There is some truth in the saying,..You don’t throw good after bad.

  6. I cannot believe that any sane republican wants to run for office in 08 with Iraq still an issue. Before the start of 07, more rats will jump from the boat. Only the sick and old will remain to stay the course.

  7. I don’t care how reasonable Hagel sounds. He’s still a Republican, and his brand of “moderate” Republicans enabled the Bush disaster over and over again. If he wants to switch parties (or go the Jeffords officially-independent-but-votes-with-the-Dems route), then I’ll listen to him, and possibly consider him as a presidential candidate. But not as long as he is officially a Republican. (Not to mention that a party that includes many that think McCain is too liberal is never, ever going to nominate a Hagel.) I will not consider voting for a Republican for anything until the party cleanses itself of its extremism, its corruption, its habit of accusing opponents of treason, its racism, its homophobia and sexism, and its cronyism.

  8. I am no PhD, but I read VERY well, and write fair to middlin’. With all due respect, in this post Barbara showed she put ISSUES before politics by mentioning Hagel in a favorable light. I read Rebeccas post as a blanket indictment of all things Republican. Hagel MIGHT help get things done, and in my book, that counts a lot more than which party claims credit. The Republicans have a lousy track record historically. That does not make all of them bad. At risk is getting things done vs advancing party politics.

  9. I wrote to Chuck Hagel over 2 years ago regarding Iraq. Mr Hagel actually sent me a letter, and mostly agreed with my antiwar point of view.Even though he is a Republican, I freely admit that I admire and like him, he has “the shine” that most in Washington severely lack. I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps ship and teams up with Biden or Obama.

  10. I agree with Rebecca but I would phrase it differently.
    Hagel has disagreed with Bush on Iraq.
    But he has not portrayed Bush and his Republican party as being on the wrong track. What they have done is disastrous for our nation.

  11. I think a lot of people are misunderstanding what I wrote. I’m not endorsing Hagel for President. I’m still hoping for a Dem takeover of the White House. I’m saying Hagel would be a “palatable” candidate in a general election, in which I meant he’d have a better shot at appealing to moderates and independents (and getting elected) than some of the crazier elements in the GOP, which is most of ’em. I think he’d be a greater threat than McCain.

    As far as Iraq is concerned, again, if we end up with all the Dems lined up against all the Republicans in Congress, and Bush digs in and won’t change, we’ll have a hard time accomplishing anything. If a substantial number of Republicans cross the aisle and stand with the Dems, however, we’ve got a better shot of actually prying our troops out of that mess.

  12. Griff, to answer your question, Hagel (my state’s senator) agrees with Bush on pretty much everything except Iraq. He’s anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-tax the rich. He does not, however, hang with televangelists like Bush. And I am unaware of ties to any specific business interests (in the sense of the administration’s ties to Halliburton and the oil industry, anyway).

    But Hagel has another “anti” that’s to his credit; I think of him as the anti-McCain. Like McCain, Hagel is a Vietnam vet. However, unlike McCain, Hagel saw from the outset that Iraq would be another quagmire. He didn’t come to his outspoken position after Nov. 7, 2006, but rather has criticized Bush’s Iraq policies specifically and often since early 2003.

    Chuck Hagel will never leave the Republican party, since, sadly, Nebraska is red from top to toe. However, he’s a far less vomitous Republican than Bush, Cheney or McCain. Because of his position on the war, I admire him a great deal more than our nominally Democratic senator, Ben “Rubber Stamp” Nelson. And I would argue that Hagel’s been enough of a burr under Bush’s tail about the Iraq war, it’s unfair to lump him in with all the other Bush-enablers, both Republican and Democrat.

  13. It is sad when an entire party has become so deluded and blood-thirsty that when a single member of that party gets up and states the obvious he stands out as exceptional. By 2008 the whole field of Republican hopefulls will sound like Hagel and the American publics ten minute memory will enable them to get away with it.

    The Dems will be blamed for not coming up with an answer to Iraq, Bush will fade into the sunset and the next American dictator will ascend to the throne.

    Well, not if we fix the electoral system, lower the level of fear and stand up to the bullies.

  14. I am glad you clarified in #14. Rightie bloggers were predicting you would switch parties and vote Republican. LOL.

  15. a democrat by nature and tradition; nevertheless have always found McCain appealing; but find Hegel even more impressive these days; but could he get the party nomination?

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