Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Newspaper Edition of Hagel Comments - Refined from Blog Post

Representing Nebraska

Will Chuck Hagel run for President or run for another term as our Senator? I’d prefer that he run for President (a primary race I don’t believe he could win) and we’d have a better option for Senator.

He’s really been at it the last couple weeks, making the job in Iraq harder for our troops. His continued stand against this war is exactly the kind of ongoing morale boost our enemies in Iraq and abroad need. It is exactly the propaganda they need to muster their own troops and the element needed for winning an insurgency campaign – don’t defeat the opponent’s military, defeat the will of the opponent’s populace. Thus, our troops are forced to fight an ever-emboldened enemy who keeps being given reasons to fight, keeps being given hope for victory over the U.S.

Beyond the boost to the enemy with his rhetoric and political positions, we are also subjected to his continuous criticism without proposals for a viable, detailed alternative to victory for the war in Iraq. Simply offering an undefined, intangible “political solution” does not cut it at any level. A failure to address any of the consequences we are sure to face, sure to experience, both at home and abroad, should we lose in Iraq also needs to be considered. His “realism” approach has slid into a seemingly permanent state of pessimism.

Senator Hagel often compares Iraq to the war he fought in Vietnam and I’m sure the plan to add more troops to Iraq fits the paradigm in which he lives.

What he should be thinking about is why we lost Vietnam, instead of trying to force everything from Iraq into the template of Vietnam. Many of us are proud of his service to our nation and know that he and the others who spilled their blood in Vietnam did not lose that war. The anti-war movement (including affiliated politicians) at home lost that war for us. That places him in a position to know better than to let history repeat itself in this way. But instead he leads the charge to repeat the process for defeat. He is repeating the anti-war performance, taking positions similar to theirs, and offering rhetoric similar to theirs.

His co-sponsorship of a resolution to cap the number of troops in Iraq, comments, and speeches offered on television news shows and Capitol Hill hearings over the last two weeks are the latest examples. He may try to argue that his resolution does not endorse a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, but his positions to this point lead there as does his rhetoric. The ultimate outcome of his positions eventually leads to our defeat. If he believes we shouldn’t pursue victory, then the only course left for him to advocate is defeat.

Why pursue defeat in the face of growing evidence that Iraqi’s are increasingly taking the lead and taking actions they need for their own behalf?

As of today, the two centers of violence in Iraq, Al Anbar and Baghdad, have momentum heading in the right direction. The tribal leaders in Anbar are fighting alongside us in the pursuit of Al Qaeda, the protagonists of the Sunni insurgency, as well as sending their young men to join the police and security forces in the fight against Al Qaeda. Iraqi Prime Minister al Maliki has finally decided to take on Muqtada al Sadr, catalyst for the sectarian violence, and arrested hundreds of al Sadr’s Mahdi Army and several members of its leadership in the last two weeks. Al Sadr and his political faction are now showing signs of getting with the program by ending their boycott of parliament.

These are opportunities to be exploited. In a military campaign you reinforce success. You reinforce momentum when opportunities present themselves. You exploit opportunities. In this case, the opportunity is not a physical hole in the enemy lines. It is an opening that has been created by the actions of tribal leaders, the Iraqi Prime Minister, and our President. Their actions have opened a hole in the defenses and game plan of the antagonists in Iraq.

This opportunity should be exploited as described in the Marine Corps’ Warfighting Manual, “It is often the ability and the willingness to ruthlessly exploit these opportunities that generate decisive results.”

But Chuck Hagel has frustrated many Nebraskans by very publicly refusing to recognize or reinforce any success in Iraq, support the momentum and opportunity at hand, or offer anything resembling pursuit of victory.

Quite often people ask me what I think he’s trying to do, what he’s up to. Has he joined the 37% of American’s who want us to lose in Iraq according to a January 18th Fox News Poll?

There’s no way for me to know exactly what he’s thinking. My hope remains that he doesn’t consciously want us to lose. But one thing I do know is that he can’t seem to pull himself away from the prism of Vietnam through which he only sees defeat.

Ask Nebraskan’s if they want to lose the war in Iraq. I’ve been around enough to know they don’t, but Chuck Hagel isn’t reflecting that attitude.

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