Chuck Hagel On Iraq: Forget 2007 and 2008, That’s Ancient History Now

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
Chuck Hagel, fresh from his trip to Iraq to provide a patina of bipartisanship to Barack Obama, tips the hand of the Obama camp’s inability to explain away Obama’s terrible misjudgment in opposing the “surge”:

“Quit talking about, ‘Did the surge work or not work,’ or, ‘Did you vote for this or support this,'” Hagel said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.

“Get out of that. We’re done with that. How are we going to project forward?” the Nebraska senator said. “What are we going to do for the next four years to protect the interest of America and our allies and restructure a new order in the world. … That’s what America needs to hear from these two candidates. And that’s where I am.”

Hagel, too, opposed the troop increase strategy, though he acknowledged Thursday it brought about positive changes. “When you flood the zone with superior American military firepower, and you put 30,000 of the world’s best troops in a country, there’s going to be a result there,” Hagel said.

This is an amusing turn of events, given that for years now the Democrats – and anti-war Republicans like Hagel – have been eager to duck questions about Iraq’s future by focusing on the decisions made in 2002-03 to go to war in the first place. Suddenly, a candidate like Obama who staked his claim to national security competence on a speech he gave in 2002 needs desperately to avoid talking about positions he took in 2007 and 2008. Hagel’s remarks, in his capacity as a de facto Obama campaign surrogate, reflect that desperation. As does Obama’s effort to spin the movement in the direction of a 2010 withdrawal date as somehow a vindication of his call for withdrawal by March 2008, a claim that Tony Blankley demolishes:

For him, now that the surge he opposed is working and victory may be around the corner, to claim that he was always right is like someone in America in 1944 opposed to the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy claiming there is no military solution to World War II and we should bring our troops home; then once our troops were on the beach, warning that our troops can accomplish nothing on the beaches — get them out; then when they broke out, warning Americans that they never will get through the hedgerows; then when they broke through the hedgerows, warning that they never will get through the Siegfried line; then the following spring, when Hitler blew his brains out, Germany surrendered and President Truman ordered our troops to be brought home systematically, bragging: “You see? I was always right. Even the president now agrees it is time to bring the troops home.”

Also from that Blankley column, we see that Obama has now conceded a very significant point that runs totally counter to his insistence way back in 2007 (remember 2007? I remember it like it was last year) that Iraq was “somebody else’s civil war”:

When asked by ABC News whether he is committed to winning the war in Iraq, Obama said: “I don’t think we have any choice. We have to win the broader war against terror that threatens America and its interests. I think that Iraq is one front on that war, but I think the central front is in Afghanistan and in the border regions of Pakistan.”

Now that Obama can no longer run on the premise that his judgment is reliable, I guess he will have to run on his national security record as evidence that we should trust his judgment about the future. Which will make for some mighty short speeches.

22 thoughts on “Chuck Hagel On Iraq: Forget 2007 and 2008, That’s Ancient History Now”

  1. It’s game over Crank. McCain is already shifting to praise the 16 month time table.

  2. Thanks to Maliki and Bush, this no longer is a wedge issue for McCain. He has to get away from it and on to other matters, and there are plenty of them.
    Hopefully, the press will give him a break on this “shift” as they have with Obama. On the other hand, in case you haven’t noticed, they most likely will not. Obama, in fact, is already harping on McCain’s shift. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Good grief!

  3. Assumes Chekhov’s accent…”Zee problem kepten, ees dat McCain sheefts on every issue hees whole karear”. McCain will change ANY position when it no longer becomes politically expedient; its disgusting. Go Barr!

  4. Let me guess this straight. We can’t talk about the idiotic decision to invade Iraq in the first place because, well, Obama nailed that one. But, we must talk about whether to “surge or not,” even though there is no way to know whether Obama’s alternative would have worked just as well.
    Yup, full-fledged Obama Derangement Symptoms.

  5. Let me get this straight. We can’t talk about the idiotic decision to invade Iraq in the first place because, well, Obama nailed that one. But, we must talk about whether to “surge or not,” even though there is no way to know whether Obama’s alternative would have worked just as well.
    Yup, full-fledged Obama Derangement Symptoms.

  6. Assume the surge has worked and peace in Iraq is within our reach (a very big assumption). But hoo ray!! Thank God for the sake of our country and for the sake of our world.
    Now step back a bit. Remember this war has taken the lives of thousands more soldiers and cost hundreds of billions more dollars and taken many years longer than anyone in the Bush administration ever came close to estimating — and achieved a lot less (eg, it did not rid the world of a nuclear armed Saddam).
    So in essence, the war still fell FAR short of was sold to the American people. In fact, two thirds of Americans think going into Iraq was a mistake.
    Now you can quibble about who said what on different dates over the last six years; but the big picture is that in the minds of most American’s George Bush’s war was a mistake. So on the issue of Iraq, most American’s (myself included) will vote for the candidate that is the most removed from George Bush’s failed policies. End of Story.

  7. No — but he also did not have them in March of 2003. So the Iraq War did not rid him of them .
    Final point: McCain running on the success of the Iraq War is like someone from Massachusetts running on the success of the Big Dig. Sure the tunnel leaks and it cost 250 times the original estimate — but we can drive under the city. Isn’t that pretty cool!

  8. Patrick,
    Granted, the war is a huge issue and only time will tell how safe the world will be based upon this country’s actions. Thankfully, there has been no terroristic repeat of 9/11 on our soil nor against any American interests internationally. Yes, the price for all of this has been overbearing.
    There are other issues that concern me as well domestically. In a nutshell, Obama’s blatant socialist political views bother me the most. He claims to be a uniter, but our country will be divided as much if not more than ever under his administration. He is a clear partisan liberal. McCain, the other hand, has a proven record of bipartisanship based on his legislative work as a US Senator. He is willing to compromise in order to reach a consensus, and this has lost him the support of some far-right Republicans. Obama has shown no willingness to compromise, but I’ll need to give him a break since he has spent half his career in the Senate running for the White House.
    McCain is the the true pragmatic centrist in this race. We’ll see if enough independent voters are paying attention to the issues and support him in November.

  9. Liberals keep saying we should not have gone into Iraq in 2003. Based on that I have to ask: when would they prefer to go? Saddam never complied wih the surrender agreement from the first Gulf War. There is every indication that he was working to rebuild militarily. He pursued materials necessary to produce atomic weapons. His forces fired on our planes enforcing southern No-fly zones repeatedly in the 1990’s. While he has not been directly linked to 9/11, there is no doubt he supported terror groups materially and financially. Based on all that, we would have had to deal with the problem at some time. Are the liberals saying we would have been better off waiting a few years until Hussein had a stronger hand to play? You can pretend that it has been a complete disaster, but that just isn’t the case. We took over a hostile nation the size of Germany with almost no casualties. Holding it and getting it reconstituted as a democracy has cost a few lives, mainly due to foreign insurgents intent on making the new government fail. However, historically it is unprecedented to achieve that much with so few casualties. Each lost life is a tragedy to their family and friends, but that doesn’t change the fact that this has been accomplished with very few.
    Bottom line: After 9/11 it would have been irresponsible to wait. And you can say we failed all you want, but we know better and are proud of what’s been done.

  10. Liberals keep saying we should not have gone into Iraq in 2003. Based on that I have to ask: when would they prefer to go?
    Answer: when you could prove Saddam was a threat to American lives. (Powell’s dog and pony show to the UN showed how little proof we had).

    1) “when would [liberals] prefer to go?” I can’t speak for all ‘liberals’ nor would I necessary classify myself as a liberal. But, a better time to invade a country the size of California halfway around the world might have been: a) when we had a better handle on Afghanistan; b) when we had more support from our allies; c) when we had more support within the region (remember Turkey didn’t even allow us to enter through their country despite billions in aid); d) when legitimate intelligence supported all of those ominous threats alluded to by the Bush administration; e) if we were comfortable containing him ‘a la Fidel Castro — then maybe never. Imagine that!! Avoiding a War!! What a tragedy!!
    2) If Iraq was such a large scale success (i.e. Mission Accomplished), why didn’t the Bush Administration provide reasonable estimates of the commitment and costs required back in the Fall of 2002. If six years, 4-5,000 US Casualties, updwards to $1 trillion was a best case scenario — why did they estimate fractions of these numbers and attack anyone who disagreed?

  12. I like the Big Dig analogy.
    Obama would have waited until just before the ribbon-cutting to seal it up for good. If that would get him the nomination, that is.
    I can’t trust the judgment of anybody willing to waste lives and write off a huge investment just to suck up to a bunch of losers. We can argue about whether going was a bad decision, but the fact remains that while we had troops in harms way the candidate was willing to state for the record that losing was just dandy with him.
    I can’t see pretending that wasn’t a huge blunder for Obama. Maybe he can get past it but nobody’s forgetting it either.

  13. OK students here in Reality 101, for those of you that have been paying attention since 9/11/01 you can amuse yourselves while the slow ones (liberals and democrats) have the events of the last years refreshed for them.
    After the first attack on the World Trade Center, then President Clinton (in between affairs with various women) decided to pursue a traditional criminal investigation approach to apprehending the organization involved (Al Qaeda). While this resulted in the arrest/conviction of the disposable members of Al Qaeda, it did not result in effecting in any way the bulk of Al Qaeda. In fact when President Clinton was offered (3 times!) Osama Bin Laden (the leader of Al Qaeda), he did not purse the offers because he said “what would we charge him with?”
    Seeing that the US would not respond with any real strength to an attack on it’s soil, Al Qaeda decided that the next big strike would not only dispose of the a much larger number of Americans, but also dispose of the their own people as well to simplify things. So they planned and executed the 9/11 attacks. However this time the President of the USA was not busy with extracurricular activities. Instead, he launched attacks on the country harboring Al Qaeda. This resulted in the driving the supporting regime (the Taliban) out of power and forcing Al Qaeda leadership into hiding from which they have not been able to launch another major attack on US soil.
    During the time before and after the 9/11 attack, Al Qaeda was forming relationships with governments hostile to the USA so as to enable larger attacks with chemical, biological, or nuclear material. One of the nations they contacted was Iraq. Finding a willing supporter in Saddam Hussein, talks were underway to see how the two could cooperate. In fact an Al Qaeda base was setup in Iraq.
    Meanwhile Saddam Hussein was hatching his own schemes to get his hands on material to make nuclear weapons. He not only wanted to regain his leverage over the region (especially his enemy Iran) but wanted to become a player in world affairs. He was also enjoying thumbing his nose at the USA and World by violating the terms from the end of the 1st Gulf War. Getting assistance from such countries as France, Germany, and Russia thru the use of the Oil for-Food program, he built up whatever weaponry and manufacturing capability he could.
    After the 9/11 attack and the ouster of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, the President of the USA decided that the US approach to waiting to be hit again was not the way to keep the USA safe. So instead of waiting around for the next attack (this time possibly with chemical, biological, or nuclear material), he decided to oust the government of Saddam Hussein before Hussein had a full blown WMD arsenal that he could either use to threaten the world or give to terrorists. The president outlined the known information to the American public, Congress, and the UN. He received approval from the US Congress and the UN to pursue the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
    Iraq was invaded and Saddam Hussein was ousted. He was captured, tried by the Iraq government, and executed for his crimes against the Iraq people. Searches subsequently determined that while Saddam Hussein had WMD materials, he had not yet reached the stage of having a nuclear bomb or had been able to resupply himself with large quantities of chemical or biological weapons. While the more learned members of the US felt relieved that Hussein was out of power and did not have WMD fully ready for use, the less aware people (liberals and democrats) chastised the President of the USA for ousting Hussein. Some truly delusional people even made up stories that the US President (and advisors) freed Iraq from Hussein in order to make money for US companies.
    Now fast forward to 2008. Iraq has gone thru some violent times as they have moved from a dictatorship to a democracy. The prior members of Hussein’s regime conducted attacks on the US troops and Iraq government. Old hatreds between religious factions (fed by Iran, Al Qaeda, and others) also caused violence in Iraq. Al Qaeda (unable to attack the US soil due to effective efforts by the US government) tried to establish a foot hold in Iraq. However after some initial success in making some Iraq factions believe that working with Al Qaeda would be beneficial, Iraq’s tribal leaders learned that Al Qaeda was not their salvation; rather Al Qaeda was a plague on the land. They also saw that the US was really there to help them build a nation, not to conquer territory. So Iraq’s tribal leaders flipped their support to the US and Iraq government and fought to rid Iraq of outside influences.
    Through the courage (and sacrifice) of the US troops, Iraq people, intelligent leadership, and the steadfastness of the President; Iraq has overcome most of these issues to reach it’s present state. Iraq is far from perfect, but is now on a path to building itself into a nation with a future.
    Those who opposed (liberals and democrats) the ousting of Hussein (some after they had previously supported his ouster) and sought to have the US pull out of Iraq (abandoning the people of Iraq in their time of need) when tough times existed; still cling to their ignorant belief that the US should never have ousted Hussein and should have waited until Al Qaeda (possibly with Hussein’s help) was able to launch a third attack on US soil. These people who hold these ideas in contrast to the actual events since 9/11 where no attacks have occurred on US soil, Al Qaeda has the decimated (and is still being hounded), and a person (Saddam Hussein) who was actively supporting terrorism has been vanquished. Some of these ignorant people even feel that the world is less safe after these events than before. How they reconcile these ideas based on the actual events that have occurred baffles the minds of the more learned (and aware) people.
    So my less aware students, maybe next time you will pay attention to actual events so that the rest of the class does not have to spend time bringing you back to reality. You may also give thanks to the brave US military that has given so much to defend your freedoms while you have slept comfortably in your beds every night.

  14. Nice lee.
    Do you have any proof about Saddam, Iraq, and Al Quaeda, or did you just get that from war-mongers like Kristol?
    Proof lee, that will help back-up your wild accusations.
    We haven’t had a terrorist attack on the US since 9/11/2001, (we don’t count the Anthrax attacks or the DC snipers) and the Red Sox still haven’t won a World series since 1918 (we don’t count 2004 or 2007, since those screw up our reasoning we dismiss them out of hand too).
    At least we can agree about our brave US military taking 5+ years to beat a country without an army. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

  15. Berto,
    “Do you have any proof about Saddam, Iraq, and Al Quaeda, or did you just get that from war-mongers like Kristol?”
    Yes. If you actually pay attention to other than the Driveby Media you will see that the troops found the Al Qaeda camp in Iraq and the Iraq Intel documents we found in Iraq proves the connection. You wouldn’t hear about this from the Drive Bys. This info is from the roops themselves.
    The Anthrax attacks or the DC snipers were not Al Qaeda. Also they were individual citizens not planned by a terrorist organization.
    Yes, the Redsox have actually won 2 World Series. Even the media knows that!

  16. Impressive, Berto. You’ve reached a new low, not just a personal record but a whole new level of dumb, a dumb rarely seen even from Crank’s stable of lunatic foils.
    I’d be offended by your reference to our military but nobody takes you seriously enough to be offended by your idiocy. Why would anybody be upset when they could just point and laugh.

  17. lee,
    Can you point me to these intel documents please?
    Ahh, didn’t realize only Al Quaeda attacks are considered terrorism (I assume this let’s Rove off the hook too).

  18. Lee — By any chance are you Stan Lee? Because you’re view of the world resembles a comic book.

  19. spongeworthy,
    Anyone reading your post can clearly see you weren’t offended by my reference to the military in the same way they can see that you are much smarter than I am.

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