Kristol vs Hagel: Flashback II


A quote from 2002 worth re-reading today:

"If disarmament in Iraq requires the use of force, we need to consider carefully the implications and consequences of our actions. The future of Iraq after Saddam Hussein is also an open question. Some of my colleagues and some American analysts now speak authoritatively of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, and how Iraq can be a test case for democracy in the Arab world. How many of us really know and understand much about Iraq, the country, the history, the people, the role in the Arab world? I approach the issue of post-Saddam Iraq and the future of democracy and stability in the Middle East with more caution, realism and a bit more humility… Imposing democracy through force in Iraq is a roll of the dice. A democratic effort cannot be maintained without building durable Iraqi political institutions and developing a regional and international commitment to Iraq's reconstruction. No small task."

Now let's take a look at the record of Bill Kristol, who, unlike Hagel, didn't serve in uniform. Here's how he attacked Hagel at the time:

Iraq's uncertain future, as opposed to its totalitarian present, has become the principle [sic] concern of many realists. "What comes after a military invasion?" Senator Chuck Hagel would like to know. "Who rules Iraq? Does the United States really want to be in Baghdad, trying to police Baghdad for twenty or thirty years?" … Predictions of ethnic turmoil in Iraq are even more questionable than they were in the case of Afghanistan. Unlike the Taliban, Saddam has little support among any ethnic group, Sunnis included, and the Iraqi opposition is itself a multi-ethnic force…

[T]he executive director of the Iraq Foundation, Rend Rahim Francke, says, "we will not have a civil war in Iraq. This is contrary to Iraqi history, and Iraq has not had a history of communal conflict as there has been in the Balkans or in Afghanistan…"

Which one would you trust to have input on foreign policy in the coming years? A pro-Greater Israel fanatic who has been proven definitively wrong about almost everything in the past decade? Or one of a handful of senators who stood up against the tide for war and his own party and asked all the questions I didn't?

(Photo via TPM: "Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom sit on an armored personnel carrier in Vietnam in 1968. More photos here.")