Skip to comments.Hagel says it's time to unwind from Iraq
Posted on 05/03/2008 10:09:22 AM PDT by stan_sipple
A lesson of Vietnam that applies to Iraq is the deeper you bog down in a morass, the more difficult it is to get out, Sen. Chuck Hagel said Friday.
The more troops you put in, saying you need another six months or another year, a surge, five more combat brigades.
All of that runs counter to the reality that were going to have to unwind, Hagel said.
No foreign policy, no war policy can be sustained without the support of the American people, he said.
Most of them say (Iraq) was a mistake and we want out.
Hagels remarks were sparked by a students question during a dialogue with eighth graders at St. Joseph Catholic School.
Responding to whether he sees some similarities between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, Hagel also pointed to the tremendous damage being inflicted on the U.S. military force structure.
It takes a generation to build back, Hagel said.
In answer to other questions, Hagel said his combat service in Vietnam in 1968 was the most significant defining experience of his life and his 2002 vote on the Iraq war resolution was his toughest decision during 12 years in the Senate.
As a result of his year in Vietnam, Hagel said, I see war not in abstractions. Not a day goes by that I dont think about it.
We were sending home young Americans in coffins at the rate of 150 a week, he said.
Although he warned against a precipitate U.S. attack on Iraq without broad international support and planning for the aftermath, Hagel voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to use military force.
In his recently published book, Hagel said he had been assured the administration would exhaust all international avenues and not use the resolution to rush to war.
It was a tough call, Hagel said.
Speaking with about 50 students, Hagel said the Bush administration and Congress have saddled their generation with a huge national debt that grew $3 trillion in the last seven years.
This president did not veto one bill in his first term, while criticizing deficit spending, Hagel said.
The Democrats will at least tell you they want to spend more money, the Republican senator said.
In response to other questions, Hagel said:
* The Senate is the only political job I ever had any interest in pursuing.
* Perhaps the best lesson he learned as a child was to always value your friendships, be loyal to your friendships.
* His mother probably was his best role model.
* A word of advice: Whatever you do, do it the best you can do.
Too bad you didn’t learn about “STFU, you stupid RINO”, ya hear that Hagel?
It’s time for Hagel to unwind from politics.
Spending copious quantities of hot air decrying the “crisis” while providing no solutions. And heaven forbid he even look at answering the question of “If I get what i want, Then What???”
Such is the genesis of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Do the best you can, Bin Ladin don’t like a slacker. And he has NOT called off this war!!
Chuck Hagel: just one more example of why I quit giving money to the RNC. I do not trust party hacks to spend my donations, and only give to individual candidates.
It’s comments like that they caused his presidential bid to implode before it even started.
Chuck finally discovers an audience not too intellectually advanced or politically mature for him. The girls thought his asking for dates at lunchtime, "a bit creepy" though.
Yes it was, but understand he is by no means close to being unique. The first thing I look for in a candidate is has he identified the issues. THEN I look to see if they have solutions for those self identified problems.
I am a retired Naval Officer and have strong respect for our military. I part ways with the FR knee-jerk support of Bush and his neo-cons on the conduct of the Iraq war, however, over a very very fundamental issue.
The issue is not pro/anti- conservative or pro/anti- war on terror, but rather what is our strategy? What would victory look like if we were to achieve it? How will we achieve that victory? What resources are required? Is the national sacrifice worth the goal defined in the strategy?
As has been abundantly clear, the neo-cons invated Iraq with no goal or strategy beyond "kill Sadam." That strategy takes one bullet or one noose. What then? Well we never looked beyond the noses of Feith and Wolfowitz and Bremer and Cheney and answered the "what then?" We are, however, dealing with the multi-trillion dollar aftermath of "what then."
Realistic military strategy begins with Sun Tsu.
Go away Chuck. You bore me.
that is his problem right there, he keeps thinking this is viet nam all over and it's not! I'm so glad he is not running again!
Slouching towards irrelevancy.
Maybe when all his sucking-up to Obama gets him a post in his administration the mid-stream media will start to ignore him.
What did General Douglas MacArthur mean when he quoted Napoleon: “give me allies as an enemy, so I may defeat them one by one?”
[What would victory look like if we were to achieve it? How will we achieve that victory? What resources are required? Is the national sacrifice worth the goal defined in the strategy?]
Good questions. If we examine all the wars in which the United States has engaged and we compare the ones with successful outcomes to the ones with unsuccessful outcomes, we see that in the successful ones we fought as hard as we could until the enemy was completely defeated. We made sure they were utterly beaten and all the fight had gone out of them. Only then did we extend the hand of friendship and try to rebuild. In contrast, our unsuccessful ventures in war have all been fought with reservation and even timidity, as if afraid that beating an enemy in battle will make them angry and will ruin any possible victory. It certainly describes Vietnam, and it looks very similar to what is happening in Iraq.
Gosh, at last my hero, Chuck Hagel, has given me my marching orders. I don’t even go to the bathroom to drop a “Hagel” unless I contact him first.
Hagel auditioning to become another Chris Matthews type of “Conservative” on MSDNC AKA DNC TV.
McCain has handed the torch to Hagel as the mid-stream media’s fave RINO
First, I think you are begging the question. You are defining success as complete and utter defeat of the so-called enemy. Unquestionably unconditional surrender was the reasonable goal against Japan and Germany. But is that always the correct goal (hint Clausewitz parts company with you here.).
A goal is not a strategy. It is mere wishful thinking. Once the goal is defined you have to define the means to achieve it, assess the cost and decide whether achieving the goal is within your means and whether it is worth the cost, and the real cost is always some large multiplier on what you think the cost is going to be because the other side always figures out how to adapt to your strategy and raise your ultimate costs.
In this regard, even if the goal in Iraq were achieveable - and I will confess a lot of ignorance as to what anyone thinks the goal really is, its cost will have been a lot higher than anyone originally estimated. A number of blunders were made including a deba'athification and disbandment of the Iraqi army in a manner that did not subtract from our ultimate difficulties, but multiplied them beyond belief.
One of our goals is clearly something along the lines of a stable democratic government in Iraq. Is that something that we ever had a chance of achieving? I don't know.
Vietnam - one of the lessons learned by the professional military about Vietnam is never ever ever go to war without a clear strategy. Our goals seemed to be something along the lines of kill all the commie b'studs, commie being defined as anyone who was opposed to French absentee landlord colonialism. Hell, we fought our own revolution to oppose just such a regime in 1776. Why did we think we could prop up the proponents of such a regime on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. We should have been fight a counterinsurgency war there, which you don't execute through Arclight operations, which just create more resentment not less.
Petraeus appears to be getting Iraq more or less right, finally. But it is after many years of other commanders doing a lot of not very helpful things that only multiplied the number of folks against us rather than reduce it.
And the first rule of counterinsurgency war is to make your friends your friends at the beginning, and no allow them to become your enemy. You do that by showing that their daily lives are a whole lot better on your side than the other side. Otherwise, they just want you gone.
Funny, but a lot of what Petraeus is doing right he learned from how we did it wrong in Vietnam. They are not quite so different as they may appear on the surface, both ultimately being counterinsurgency operations.
Hagel??? who is he???? oh yeah .... just another stinking rino taking up breathing space.
Hagel is no RINO, in fact he may be the most Republican of Republicans. I think he won last time with 83% of the vote. To understand Hagel I think you need to attend a few Church services in Germanic areas of Nebraska. They are a truly pacific people. I have never felt more at ease in a Church in my life. They are not pacifist, they are not leftist, given a real reason to fight they are on the front lines and they will fight like a son of a bitch. George McGovern was nothing short of a hero. But they won't fight just because someone waved a flag and they won't fight just to fight.
There is a long history of successful and unsuccessful counterinsurgency campaigns waged by the US and others. In most of these places the government has little legitimacy in the sense that the US government is to its citizens the legitimate government of the US, and anyone trying to assert otherwise would be considered a pretender. Few countries outside of western democracies have a way to hand power legitimately from one group of folks to the next.
So the local decision for most folks is, do I accept the powers that be or do I join the insurgency against it. That choice is a pretty simple one depending upon whether you think you are better of with the bastard in charge than the bastard who wants to be in charge. If the guys in charge were unable to feed your family, and keep others from stealing your home and raping and murdering your family, it is really an easy choice. This is why Petraeus has emphasized the issues of local security AND local economic development. The first step in counterinsurgency is ensuring that the people under your protection can live their lives more or less contentedly. That is why in counterinsurgency respect for local customs and culture comes at the top of the list of things you do, not at the bottom.
It is something that comes hard to many Americans, and our Army is made up of "many" Americans. It comes hard to a lot of the supposedly well educated and well informed denizens of Free Republic.
Oh my God, I didn't know that I had a literalist who does not know that there are many meanings to the word "funny." I do not mean raucously hilarious. I meant something like one of it's other definitions "Strangely or suspiciously odd or curious." You know, these two juxtapositions of similar boggeddownness in a war of local anklebiters (biting with high powered rifles, mortars, and IED's) suggest a reflective person might inquire more deeply into the suspicious or curious similarity to discover whether lessons learned from mistakes in the one might be applied to the other.
Our political leadership from Johnson down through most of the US congress - because of the American blind opposition to communism - failed to treat Vietnam as a serious strategic problem. Too many around here would do the same in Iraq. So far, I have yet to find anyone on FR who can tell me what success or failure in Iraq would look like. If Iraq were to be taken over by the Taliban or the Mahdi I would regard that as a failure. The implanting of a christian based liberal democracy (liberal in the traditional meaning of the word), on the other hand, is something beyond earthly powers, so I merely inquire where we plan to stop, and stir up a hornets nest of indignation at the question.
Hagel is a decorated Vietnam veteran and he is asking exactly the same things you are.
There is virtually nothing right in this statement. The reaon Sun Tzu is timeless is because the principles of strategy have not changed in 2500 years since the Warring States Period in China. Terrorism was not unknown in China at that time, and in fact the disappearance of private means of warfare is mostly a function of the modern wester bureaucratic centralized state. The Vietcong had plenty of firepower at its disposal. In fact, the quantity of destructive explosives an individual could carry on his back has not changed much in a century, there being only so much chemical energy you can get out of a pound of matter.
Paying attention to the first two chapters of Sun Tsu will not make anyone a great military commander. Failing to heed them, however, is a certain road to disaster.