Chuck Hagel - Leaving Iraq, Honorably - washingtonpost.comRiiiiggghhhht. I'm sure history will agree.
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...
Hagel was a part of the GOP team that oversaw what now appears to be one of the greatest foreign policy debacles since Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor (clarification: that was Japan's debacle). The US won't come out of this debacle as badly as Japan did, but our reasoning and execution was comparably flawed. The honorable thing for Hagel to do would be to admit that he screwed up and call for Bush and Cheney to turn their foreign policy responsibilities over to Bill Clinton -- or even Baker/Bush I.
Hagel struggles to put an "honorable" face on one of history's great blunders and to shift responsibility for a disastrous outcome to the Iraqis. In other words, he blames the victims. In this case they are not blameless, but the majority of the blame falls on the GOP and their supporters. At the same time he writes:
We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam....For Congress, read "the GOP"; they have been the Congress. Hagel calls for bipartisan support for a "phased retreat", a phrase that presumably means "no helicopters on the embassy roof". His essay could be summarized as "The GOP screwed up because the Iraqis weren't good enough, the Dems need to share the blame."
... We are destroying our force structure, which took 30 years to build. We've been funding this war dishonestly, mainly through supplemental appropriations, which minimizes responsible congressional oversight and allows the administration to duck tough questions in defending its policies. Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibility in the past four years.
Disgusting. We may well end up with an orderly or disorderly retreat and a colossal defeat with dishonor, but the Dems should not shield the GOP from their incompetence. History will not judge Hegel or the Rovian-GOP kindly.