Hagel certainly is no peace-now zealot. "We're not going to precipitously pull out," he told me. "We have [national] interests in Iraq." While he asserted that "we can't get out by the end of the year," he called for "pulling some of our guys out -- not all of them, but you've got to get them out of [Baghdad] at least, get them out of the middle of civil war." If not, Hagel said, "then the prospects of the Republican Party are very dim next year."
What about claims by proponents of the Iraqi intervention that failure to stop the terrorists in Iraq will open the door to them in the American homeland?
"That's nonsense," Hagel replied. "I've never believed that. That's the same kind of rhetoric and thinking that neocons used to get us into this mess and everything that [Donald] Rumsfeld, [Paul] Wolfowitz, [Richard] Perle, [Douglas] Feith and the vice president all said. Nothing turned out the way they said it would."
It is "nonsense," Hagel said, because "Iraq is not embroiled in a terrorist war today." Hagel, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cited "national intelligence" attributing "maybe 10 percent" of the insurgency and violence to al-Qaeda. Indeed, he described Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds as opposed to al-Qaeda: "They don't like the terrorists. What's happened in Anbar province is the tribes are finally starting to connect with us because al-Qaeda started killing some of their leadership and threatening their people. So the tribes now are at war with al-Qaeda."...
These judgments come from someone credited with rebuilding Nebraska's Republican Party and who has earned a lifetime conservative voting rating of 85.2 percent from the American Conservative Union. Hagel represents millions of Republicans who are repelled by the Democrats' personal assault on President Bush but are deeply unhappy about his course in Iraq.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Robert Novak had a piece out yesterday, "Hagel's Stand." It is well worth the read. Here are some excerpts: