Why Hagel Matters, Ctd

“If the Republicans are going to look at Chuck Hagel, a decorated war hero and Republican who served two terms in the Senate, and vote no because he bucked the party line on Iraq, then they are so far in the wilderness that they’ll never get out,” – an Obama administration official to Rosie Gray.

One reason I’m so happy that this nomination will go ahead is precisely because we’ll have the debate in the Senate. We can debate who was right about the Iraq War. We can debate why the Pentagon should be protected from any serious cuts, while seniors get their healthcare cut, everyone gets a payroll tax increase, and the US spends more on defense than the next ten countries combined, many of whom are allies.

Another debate we will have is exactly how brilliant that “surge” was in Iraq – a surge Hagel and the Dish opposed. Here’s Fred Kaplan on the matter:

It only bought time for the Iraqi political factions to settle their differences. (That’s all that Gen. David Petraeus, the strategy’s architect, ever claimed it could do.) And now it’s clear that the factions didn’t want to settle their differences, and so ethnic clashes have persisted, and the issues that divide the factions are no closer to settlement. Therefore, was Hagel so wrong?

I wouldn’t be so positive about the “surge”. It bought time for a quick US exit, under the pretense that some viable multi-sectarian democracy was sustainable. We know now how big an illusion that was – but the master of DC public relations, David Petraeus, told us all to believe it – and who didn’t want to believe it? What a Hagel nomination provides is a re-examination of this myth as well – as well as showing the country that being a Republican and a conservative does not mean being a risky interventionist, a pro-torture anti-American, or a pro-West-Bank-settlement fanatic. That’s an incredible gift to the GOP, a way out of their neocon dead-end, if they could only see it.

Meep meep.