Speaking of Republican hubris, Chuck Hagel was one of the few elected officials on either side of the aisle who had the courage and conviction to speak his mind in the lead up to the Iraq invasion and after it.
Then Senator Hagel (R-NB) questioned Condoleezza Rice on the Iraq strategy in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing. Of the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy he said, “It’s, first of all, in my opinion, morally wrong. It’s tactically, strategically, militarily wrong. We will not win a war of attrition in the Middle East.”
Transcript from Youtube:
SENATOR HAGEL: … but I would even begin with this evaluation; that we owe the military and their families a policy, a policy worthy of their sacrifices, and I don’t believe, Dr. Rice, we have that policy today.
I think what the president said last night — and I listened carefully and read through it again this morning — is all about a broadened American involvement, escalation in Iraq and the Middle East. I do not agree with that escalation, and I would further note that when you say, as you have here this morning, that we need to address and help the Iraqis and pay attention to the fact that Iraqis are being killed, Madame Secretary, Iraqis are killing Iraqis. We are in a civil war. This is sectarian violence out of control — Iraqi on Iraqi. Worse, it is inter-sectarian violence — Shi’a killing Shi’a.
To ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives, to be put in the middle of a civil war is wrong.
It’s, first of all, in my opinion, morally wrong. It’s tactically, strategically, militarily wrong. We will not win a war of attrition in the Middle East.
And I further note that you talk about skepticism and pessimism of the American people and some in Congress. That is not some kind of a subjective analysis, that is because, Madame Secretary, we’ve been there almost four years, and there’s a reason for that skepticism and pessimism, and that is based on the facts on the ground, the reality of the dynamics.
And so I have been one, as you know, who have believed that the appropriate focus is not to escalate, but to try to find a broader incorporation of a framework. And it will have to be, certainly, regional, as many of us have been saying for a long time. That should not be new to anyone. But it has to be more than regional, it is going to have to be internally sponsored, and that’s going to include Iran and Syria.
When you were engaging Chairman Biden on this issue, on the specific question — will our troops go into Iran or Syria in pursuit, based on what the president said last night — you cannot sit here today — not because you’re dishonest or you don’t understand, but no one in our government can sit here today and tell Americans that we won’t engage the Iranians and the Syrians cross-border.
Some of us remember 1970, Madame Secretary, and that was Cambodia, and when our government lied to the American people and said we didn’t cross the border going into Cambodia. In fact we did. I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee.
So, Madame Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the president is talking about here, it’s very, very dangerous. Matter of fact, I have to say, Madame Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out. I will resist it.
Hagel is the recipient of two Purple Hearts from the Vietnam War. He knows about dangerous foreign policy blunders and he values the lives and sacrifices of our troops too much to be silently complicit in the face of obscene excuses for war.
But even after all of his disagreements with Dr. Rice, Senator Hagel told Gwen Ifill of PBS, ” I will support the nomination of Dr. Rice. She’s eminently qualified, well prepared. And I think she’ll be an excellent secretary of state.” Yes, this was after Dr. Rice lied to the American people about the weapons of mass destruction, which makes the Republican obstruction of Hagel even more ridiculous.
In that same PBS interview, then Senator Russ Feingold said of Hagel, “I’m sitting here with a Republican, who had the integrity at hearings from the very beginning to ask the right questions… And you know what, we never got a good answer then. Senator Hagel tried; Senator Lugar tried; it was a bipartisan effort.”
Hagel represents the truth about the unconscionable Republican foreign policy disaster of the Iraq war; the lie that must not be discussed — the lie the mainstream media whitewashed and ignored, while busily chasing after Benghazi conspiracy theories as if that will rehabilitate them for their failures.
Hagel is the integrity and morality missing in the values bankrupt modern day Republican Party. His existence is a constant rebuke of their own failures. And that is why they hate him.
We do not have a Secretary of Defense right now because the Republican Party refuses to face their own failures and instead chooses to punish all reminders.