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Mon Jan 7, 2013, 04:29 PM

Hagel Opposed the Surge

Last edited Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:46 PM - Edit history (2)


Gawd, do I hate republicans in Democratic cabinets. If Chuck Hagel's appointment was supposed to be about 'bipartisanship,' it's a product of an out-of-touch WH political operation which completely missed the fact that republicans have long ago disowned the Nebraska moderate, or, worse; a clear portrait of a gag-worthy naivete of Barack Obama in expecting that republicans actually give a damn about the stuff they regularly rail against.

In many ways, the nomination of Hagel is a reflection of Barack Obama's impression of his own political moniker. In the lexicon of our nation's political class, Barack Obama is considered to be, at his heart, a liberal who aspires to the worst definitions of socialism. In practice and reality, though, he's a political pragmatist who regularly adopts positions and policies which reflect the more conservative limits of legislators he enlists to advance his Democratic agenda through the divided Congress than they do the aims of our party's sizable progressive membership.

The political and press establishment regularly portrays his compromises as liberal/conservative -- yet this president tends to bend toward the republican position more than often; assuming, as the establishment does, that he's already filled out the progressive card by the mere fact of that impression of him as some wild-eyed liberal.

Very rarely do his policies bend back to the progressive position, though; very often diluting initiatives, instead, to reflect the political landscape which is distorted by the republican obstinacy and opportunism.

In many ways, Barack Obama's selection of Chuck Hagel is consistent with the President's assumption that he already represents as much progressiveness on defense than the political establishment can bear, and still advance his policies and initiatives through the divided legislature. That may well be true. The republican party has shown little inclination to voluntarily abandon the remnants of the Bush doctrine of military interventionism and corporate-driven expansionism; and, Barack Obama has obliged them in retaining many of the architects and managers of that Bush policy to lead our military policy into the future.

Most of the results of the administration policy toward Afghanistan and Iran has been a weak sister of the last administration's approach. More of our troops were killed in Afghanistan on THIS president's watch than the last one; and, there's no evidence at all that this President's surge of force in Afghanistan made the killing of bin Laden a possibility. That killing of our nation's #1 nemesis is all they have to point to now there. It's a misguided policy in Afghanistan which assumes that our forces are more beneficial than they are disruptive, I'd like to see that reality faced up to and resolved with a massive pullback; immediately if they have the political will.

It is in that effort to reverse course and pull back from the counter-productive occupation that Chuck Hagel offers promise. He opposed Bush's 'surge' in Iraq; and, he also opposed President Obama's 'surge' of force in Afghanistan.

Hagel fleshed that out in an interview with Jacob Weisburg in 2011:

I've always thought, if you're a United States Senator, you have a -- you have a big job of thinking through these things and then ultimately making some decision on how you're going to vote. And there is not a more critical element of representative government for each of us who had the privilege of serving in those capacities than making a decision on war -- on whether you send your men and women to war and whether you get a country into war.

As I often used to say -- and we found out in Vietnam, we're finding out in Iraq, but every war -- easy to get into these wars, but pretty damn hard to get out of them, because you've got always the reasons why you can't leave: can't leave because all the dominos will fall in Southeast Asia or whatever it is.

Now, that said, go back -- steer back to your question. It wasn't just that. It was -- it was a lot of -- at least what I thought -- of unanswered questions. Where are we going here? What is the endgame here? On the surge, I remember asking -- I was opposed to the surge -- well, of course, if you flood any zone, any location in the world with superior American military -- and there's no, obviously, country in the world who can stand up to the superiority of our force. If you flood that zone with a superior American firepower, of course you're going to have your -- whatever your victory is, however you define that.

But I never thought Iraq, for example, was well thought-out. No one could ever take me through then what happens, then what happens, then what happens. I go back to the beginning of the first 12 months, and Jamie (sp) was at CIA, and there's some other people in the room who know something about this, were there at the time. I used to ask the questions of the witnesses that would come up about every dimension of this. And we had on record Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Natsios, who was USAID -- every one of the senior members. They would say things like -- and this is all on the record -- we'll have our troops out of Iraq by Christmas. This was the year we invaded. Certainly no more than 12 months.

These were generals -- four-star generals -- Tommy Franks, others. Natsios and Wolfowitz testified that the war would not cost the United States one penny. (Laughter.) So much oil.

They actually said this. This isn't my interpretation; this is all on the record. I never bought that. It was -- it was, to me, so much more complicated because I'd been in a war that was complicated. I'd seen the graft, I'd seen the corruption, I'd seen the death, I'd seen the misunderstandings, I'd seen the lack of clear policymaking that is just inherent in something like this. Have -- I used to say, have you thought this through? Is this going to be a classic 21st century nation building? Are we subject to nation -- and mission creep here? So it wasn't just my own emotional human pieces.

It's this type of critical thinking that can lead us out of the quagmire in Afghanistan. If President Obama can marshal all of the sentiment in the nation to break free from the politically-driven occupation, he can use Chuck Hagel as a consistent voice of reason as he redefines American's role and negotiated obligations there and in the region.

As they move to dismantle whatever remnants of Bush doctrine and policy that has kept us bogged down in Afghanistan, it should not be ignored that it has been the progressive position which has maintained the most credibility in recent matters of occupation and war. Even as Barack Obama reaches out to republicans with this nomination, he should be bending back to embrace his progressive following which has ultimately been proven correct in their protests and activism against continuing militarily in Afghanistan. We can't just assume that is already understood.

Two purples hearts, Chuck Hagel still has shrapnel in his chest ...

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Reply Hagel Opposed the Surge (Original post)
bigtree Jan 2013 OP
TwilightGardener Jan 2013 #1
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bigtree Jan 2013 #2
Bluenorthwest Jan 2013 #3
bigtree Jan 2013 #4
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bigtree Jan 2013 #5
H2O Man Jan 2013 #6
bigtree Jan 2013 #7

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 04:45 PM

1. I read somewhere that he did not want the troop buildup in Afghanistan--

I think Joe Biden didn't want it either. But Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates did, IIRC. I can't say who was right, at this point. But I am glad that Hagel's voice will be more in the mix.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 06:08 PM

3. Hagel voted for the Iraq War authorization. Articles like this one imply he opposed it, but he voted

yes. He said 'blah blah blah' first, admittedly but he still fell for the ruse and voted to let the bombs drop. Many of his Democratic fellow Senators voted No on the war, but Hagel voted along with his fellow Republicans. Just as he voted to go to Afghanistan, he voted to go to Iraq.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 06:21 PM

4. I think he speaks to some of that here

. . . he bought into the general's lies and promises. Now it's going to be up to him (and his CIC) to show he's learned from those mistakes.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:11 PM

6. Quite often, in DC,

the differences between connservative Democrats and semi-opened-minded republicans are not that large. Hence, when considering the options, it may be that where Hagel differs on foreign policy with the other possible options is actually a good thing for anti-war people. His views on the Middle East seem more in line with what direction I'd like to see the country move in.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 08:27 PM

7. ah, yes, his ME positions are a plus, given the deck is already & forever stacked in Israel's favor

I think that on almost every critical issue, nothing but progressive policy and results will matter in the end. Not many of us here, at least, will care much about how good a military manager he is if he continues to allow war policy to decimate any good he achieves for the rank and file. In the end, I think most Americans would agree with that.

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