Skip to comments.Hagel sounds alarm over Iraq
Posted on 06/26/2005 5:54:23 AM PDT by hipaatwo
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - More than 200 Nebraska American Legion members, who have seen war and conflict themselves, fell quiet here Saturday as Sen. Chuck Hagel bluntly explained why he believes that the United States is losing the war in Iraq.
Sen. Chuck Hagel addresses more than 200 Nebraska American Legion members in Grand Island on Saturday.
It took 20 minutes, but it boiled down to this:
The Bush team sent in too few troops to fight the war leading to today's chaos and rising deaths of Americans and Iraqis. Terrorists are "pouring in" to Iraq.
Basic living standards are worse than a year ago in Iraq. Civil war is perilously close to erupting there. Allies aren't helping much. The American public is losing its trust in President Bush's handling of the conflict.
And Hagel's deep fear is that it will all plunge into another Vietnam debacle, prompting Congress to force another abrupt pullout as it did in 1975.
"What we don't want to happen is for this to end up another Vietnam," Hagel told the legionnaires, "because the consequences would be catastrophic."
It would be far worse than Vietnam, says Hagel, a twice-wounded veteran of that conflict, which killed 58,000 Americans.
Failure in Iraq could lead to many more American deaths, disrupt U.S. oil supplies, damage the Middle East peace effort, spread terrorism and harm America's stature worldwide, Hagel said.
That's what keeps him on edge these days.
That's why he is again the most outspoken Republican in Congress about Iraq. His view that America is losing in Iraq, which first aired in a newsmagazine last week, prompted rebukes from conservatives such as talk show host Rush Limbaugh, concerns from others in his party and praise from anti-war advocates on the Internet.
But Saturday, he was unrepentant.
"The point is, we're going to have to make some changes or we will lose, we will lose in Iraq," he told the legionnaires.
At the same time, he said, he wants President Bush to win, and he believes that the United States cannot pull out anytime soon.
The legionnaires gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech. Carl Marks of Omaha, a Korean War veteran, said: "It sounds like he's conflicted . . . like a lot of us."
Bennie Navratil of Hallam, Neb., whose son left last week for military duty in Afghanistan, said, "I feel he said the right thing: that we can't pull out and something's got to change."
Aboard a plane back to Omaha, Hagel was asked whether he thought Bush was aware that adjustments might be needed in his Iraq policy.
"I don't know," Hagel said.
The whole Iraqi situation makes him sick to his stomach, he said.
"It has tormented me, torn me more than any one thing," he said with a grim look on his face. "To see what these guys in Iraq are having to go through and knowing what I know here: that we didn't prepare for it, we didn't understand what we were getting into. And to put those guys in those positions, it makes me so angry."
He lays part of the blame on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who argued before the war that he needed only 150,000 American troops in Iraq. That caused more casualties than were needed, Hagel said.
"We still don't have enough troops," he said. "We should have had double or triple the number."
It has led to a bleak situation, Hagel said:
Insurgent attacks are more frequent than a year ago. Bombs used by insurgents are growing more deadly, piercing America's best protective clothing and equipment. Oil production is down. Electricity is less available than a year ago. Economic development is lagging. Ninety percent of the humanitarian and economic aid pledged by 60 nations hasn't reached Iraq because of the continuing violence. Only one Middle Eastern country has an ambassador in Iraq.
Bush has said America is fighting in Iraq with a "coalition of the willing," allies who have committed a relatively small number of troops and aid.
Hagel scoffed at that idea. "It's a joke to say there's a coalition of the willing," he said, adding that many are pulling out and the United States is fronting the bills for those who remain.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops are under severe strain. Troops are stationed in more than 100 countries, and their rapid tempo of deployments with little time off leaves them fatigued and in danger of making mistakes.
"We are destroying the finest military in the history of mankind, and the (National) Guard, too," he said. "We're stretching our Army to the breaking point."
Public pronouncements from the Bush administration also have gotten under Hagel's skin. Vice President Dick Cheney's recent comments that the insurgents in Iraq are in "the last throes" echo a refrain of the Vietnam era, he said.
Back then, officials saw "the light at the end of the tunnel" in Vietnam, Hagel said.
Toting up all those points, he said, leads him to conclude that the United States is losing in Iraq.
"That doesn't mean we have to lose," he said.
In his speech and in an interview, Hagel offered some ideas that he thinks could help in Iraq:
U.S. troops and others could work harder to train local militias in small Iraqi towns to help identify and take on insurgents. Allies who don't want to enter Iraq could help patrol its borders, blocking terrorists from entering the war-torn country. The training of Iraq's military and military police should be accelerated immediately.
Middle Eastern nations should become more engaged, he said, but it doesn't help when administration officials criticize Egypt and Saudi Arabia for not moving quickly enough toward democratic practices.
Hagel said he shaped his views after many talks recently with senior U.S. military officials; foreign policy experts; Brent Scowcroft, who was the first President Bush's national security adviser; and others. He plans to share his views with the current president and his team and says he feels an urgency he hopes they will share.
The United States has only about six more months to begin to turn things around in Iraq, he said.
"I believe that there can be a good outcome in Iraq," he said. "I also believe there could be a very bad outcome for Iraq. I believe we have a very limited time for that good outcome."
Where would they have gotten more troops from?
"If the military were allowed to fight the war the way that they were taught, none of this would even be discussed right now."
Agreed, but wouldn't the military need to be in charge of the US foreign policy and government for this to come to pass?
Do you think that the current administration refuses to listen to the military personnel opinions?
YES! We are fighting under ROE very similar to those in Vietnam, and the enemy is mustering its forces over the borders. We need to attack in Syria, Iraq or even Saudi Arabia if those places have training going on or "insurgent" camps.
Why is it that when I think of Hagel I'm reminded of William Jennings Bryan?
Chuck Hagel: "Chuck" is a verb.
Where do we get the troops?
I think the problem comes when foreign policy trumps accepted military planning and decision making procedures.
And I do believe that the military is being ignored in an attempt to be PC.
I support the war and the military but I am beginning to feel that the adminsitration has blown the chance to win this decisively. And this will have repurcussions in the overal WOT.
Thanks so much for all the responses. I didn't mean to post and run but I'm busy today and can't answer all the great posts.
This reminds me so much of what happened during Vietnam. We didn't lose the war, it was lost for us by the people that are protesting it ie: the press, the liberals, and people like Graham and Hagel. I really believe that the terrorists see what is going on here and it only bolsters them. They aren't stupid, the uglier it gets, the more the war is protested, terrorist win.
What an idiot.
Durbin calls our troops nazis and al jazeera broadcasts from satelite within hours. Kennedy churlishly insults the Secretary of Defense to his face but from the protection of the Senate dais. These are not the actions of patriotic Americans advocating a path for their country but of despicable demagogues pandering to a n element which hates America. I distinguish Hagel from this lot, although I think it is fair to say that he might have presidential ambitions even though he has recently expressly stated he will not run. I think that was a patriotic move if he seriously wants to advance his argument that we must change path or lose the war because he cannot seek the nomination of the President's party and do so. At least now he will more likely have his position considered on its merits.
I am sorry that I could bring up your web site.
By the way, if you examine my old posts especially at the time of the election, you will see how I deplored the unholy alliance between Kerry and the Press in an effort to exaggerate casualties in order to throw the election. I think I speculated that we probably have incurred more dead from deer (accidents) than KIA and that the only way we can lose this war is if the left, magnified by their henchmen in the Press, convince America that the casualties are unsustainable.
One thing is clear, if Hagel is right then Cheney and the administration will be utterly without credibility. I find it hard to imagine that Cheney would put himself, much less the nation, in that position and court disgrace.
also hagel has these words of wisdom
water is very wet under this administration
I know that "eatdust" posting on this thread says he has done two rounds in Iraq and is going back for a third tour. Thank you for serving, I will take what you say with much more trust than most, even if we don't agree.
I can not believe extremes of the conflicting reports from soldiers that have not been filtered through the main stream media vs the full scale war that the main stream media has declared on GWB, Rumsfeld and the Iraqi war effort. It is too great of a difference and many on FR are too happy to take the side of the MSM.
Lets see 90% of the time the MSM has lied and distorted news in the past to fit it's own agenda.
Who to believe?
The Sunnis have allied politically, instead of submitting to the terrorist solution, which is extremely good news for winning the war on terror. Winning does not derive from eliminating bin Laden or Zarqawi, but from removing the political environments supporting such people. Staying with the people in Iraq now means winning victories well beyond its borders. The criminals/murders/terrorists (CMT's) are moving into Iraq because they understand what is at stake when people throughout this region have a history of being easily motivated by ideas and in this case it is freedom.
The war is actually against Wahhabi jihadism. This was an insignificant Muslim heresy when Feisal and T. E. Lawrence fought for Arab independence in WW I. Now it infects Saudi Arabia, among other countries of the Middle East, and plays a major roll in politics as far away as Indonesia. Terrorism matures when Wahhabis with graduate degrees in sciences and economics find the benign and/or supportive totalitarian governments, which they either help create and/or blend with.
The object is not for us to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, but to help 24 diverse ethnic and religious groups who were killed in the 100,000s to form a representative government in which terrorism, Wahhabism must perish. This determination so far has encouraged voiceless Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon to seek new governments.
Remember the nation, which gave us Luther, Kant and Beethoven also produced Hitler. We win the war on terror when a Muslim world, which produced Zarqawi and bin Laden again produces a Rhazes, al-Kindi and Saladin.
" We didn't lose the war, it was lost for us by the people that are protesting it ie: the press, the liberals, and people like Graham and Hagel."
There are two different things going on here. There are those who oppose the war and oppose GWB. And there are those who support the war but feel that it is not being run properly. I am in the latter group. I believe that we need to have more troops and have an accelerated campaign using military tacticians, not using the PC diplomatic corps to call the shots. Let our military win the war! Stop making them fight with their hands tied!
Perhaps there is a new development.
I get so tired of opportunist Dems and RHINOs.
We have heard it for years now. "Eight Iraqi policemen killed in Iraq!", " A car bomb went off and killed three US Troops today (Yeah!!!/sarcasm)" "Twelve women and children killed at church while cuddling soft and fuzzy puppydogs!" The drumbeat by the media is exactly what fuels the terroristst to continue acting.
But the terrorists are so insignificant. The vast majority of Americans have a picture of the war that is limited to the daily announcement of horrors that the media pushes on them. The one pure example of when the media failed was the Iraqi election. There were suicide bombers that day too. But the picture of Iraqi's going to the poles in great numbers and thanking Americans was such a big story that it had to be covered for at least a week - the scale of the daily bombings was made clear. That day stands out to me as one day when the truth got out - even in the MSM.
He's absolutely correct