Chuck Hagel, the Republican U.S. Senator from Nebraska, this morning:
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. … “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.” … 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.”
Hagel was awarded two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam, so I’m sure that by Wednesday we’ll be hearing from Michelle Malkin that he might have shot himself in the leg to get them. In the meantime, here’s a proleptic taster of what might be in store, courtesy of the National Review’s Rich Lowry. Way back in August 2002, Hagel was talking about the risks of invading Iraq. The Corner spoke out in response:
Chuck Hagel is now deemed a foreign-policy sophisticate for mindlessly repeating over and over that there are ârisksâ to invading Iraq. Golly, Chuck, really? Hagel MUST have a Ph.D. in international relations or something to have developed such a nuanced view of American foreign policy. Who knows how many thousands of hours of study and thought it took Hagel to come to the conclusion that invading Iraq is âcomplicatedâ and âriskyâ? I bet Nebraska has never been blessed with such Metternich-ian savvy, possibly ever. So, itâs really too bad that Hagel debased his foreign-policy genius in the New York Times today by resorting to the most shamelessly stupid of peacenik arguments: âMaybe Mr. Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad.â Ohhh, Chuckâ”your rhetorical powers are over-awing us here in The Corner. How long did it take you to think that one up?
It goes on a bit longer in this vein. You get the idea.