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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Chuck Hagel, War Critic

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (Neb.), a likely candidate for President in 2008 who voted for the Iraq war resolution in 2002, has gone postal on the Bush administration's war policy. As CNN reports, Hagel said this on Thursday:
"The casualties we're taking, the billion dollars a week we're putting in there, the kind of commitment we've got -- we're not going to be able to sustain it," he said.

Iraq and Vietnam still have more differences than similarities, he said, but "there is a parallel emerging."

"The longer we stay in Iraq, the more similarities will start to develop, meaning essentially that we are getting more and more bogged down, taking more and more casualties, more and more heated dissension and debate in the United States," Hagel said.

Hagel also did not back away from comments he made in June to U.S. News & World Report that "the White House is completely disconnected from reality" and "the reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

"It gives me no great pleasure to have said that and to say that now," he said Thursday.
Almost nothing looks good for the US in Iraq:
He [Hagel] said the U.S. death toll has continued to rise "at a very significant rate -- more dead, more wounded, less electricity in Iraq, less oil being pumped in Iraq, more insurgent attacks, more insurgents coming across the border, more corruption in the government."
Sunday, Hagel went even further in his critique -- the entire mission has been counterproductive:
"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.
Interestingly, Hagel rejects the Biden/McCain formula for Iraq, even though he was in favor of sending several hundred thousand troops in 2003:
"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."
Too bad Hagel didn't say this stuff last October...
"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."
Thursday, the Senator also said Bush should have met with anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier who died in action in Iraq.

Observe the anti-war cascade: Kevin Drum is crowing about his call for withdrawal back in June. Kieran Healy rejects the President's "stay the course" mantra. And as Digby notes, even writers from the National Review are ready to "get off the bus."

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