Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

The WSJ confirms:

While it is standard practice for such trips--known as CODELS, or congressional delegations--to be bipartisan, in this highly charged election year it is likely to raise eyebrows that the retiring Nebraskan senator--a prominent Iraq War critic--is the Republican expected to join the Democratic Party's presidential nominee on what is sure to be a closely watched visit to the region.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Sen. Hagel has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race, and he has offered kind words for both Obama and Republican rival Sen. John McCain, although the two Republicans differ greatly on the war.

Not only is it standard practice for CODELs to be bipartisan, it's actually required. So it's normal that at least one Republican would join Obama on the trip.

Hagel's a great choice. Like McCain, Hagel served in Vietnam. But as a decorated Sergeant in the Army infantry, he likely came away with a much different perspective on the war than John McCain.

Back in November of 2007, Hagel penned an op-ed in the Washington Post, laying out the tragic reality of our decision to invade Iraq:

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
...
It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder -- one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.

To squander this moment would be to squander future possibilities for the Middle East and the world. That is what is at stake over the next few months.

Obama and Hagel's trip to Iraq will present a tremendous opportunity not just for Obama's campaign specifically, but for the larger narrative about the reality in Iraq. As McCain stumps with Lieberman to perpetuate the original Iraq lie, two different Senators with a much firmer grasp on reality will see the conditions first-hand, and return to the States to a hungry audience. What they say and how they say it could bring us closer to finally ending this war.

Hagel is retiring after his current term expires - there are few Republicans like him left.

Tags: Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Election 08, Iraq (all tags)

Comments

46 Comments

I would have asked

Lugar instead but Lugar is apparently going to rake Obama over the head this weekend on one of the morning shows, so that may not have been feasible.  As long as this guy isn't on Obama's "real" VP short list, then we're good.

Who is the other dem that goes with Obama?  It has to be someone from Foreign Relation so Reed, Biden, Kerry, Boxer?

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-11 01:19PM | 0 recs
I'd say Biden

If only for the entertainment value.

by Dracomicron 2008-07-11 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: I would have asked

CNN was reporting that Jack Reed will be joining Obama for the trip as well.

by DPW 2008-07-11 03:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq
Unfortunately, aside from the war, Hagel is pretty much a standard GWB Republican.
On the environment, he is ranked 94th out of 98 at Progressive Punch, 86th out of 99 on health care, 95th out of 99 on fair taxation, and rates 68th out of 99 overall.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
by skohayes 2008-07-11 01:38PM | 0 recs
there are few Republicans like him left.

Hagel voted to invade Iraq. His change of heart is about the only issue where he isn't a toe-the-line conservative.

I'm glad he's going to Iraq with Obama for political reason, but let's not go overboard on the guy.

by Beren 2008-07-11 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

" two different Senators with a much firmer grasp on reality will see the conditions first-hand, and return to the States to a hungry audience . "

- You are kidding right ?

How do you explain his outdated rhetoric on the stump on Iraq , I don't know if the man has ever even been to Iraq since the invasion .

Thats an incredible statement to make.

As far as I am concerned and from my own perspective he is clueless on Iraq and probably would sing a different tune when he gets back .

What was supposed to be his calling card is almost turning to a liability for him . Our boys and gals are performing heroically over there and he has to acknowledge the reality when he gets back .

By the way the military on the ground ( he is supposed to listen to them , right .?) are skeptical about his "  current" iraq plan .

http://thepage.time.com/2008/07/11/milit ary-leaders-no-way-obamas-iraq-plan-can- work/

I don't know what reality you are talking about .

by lori 2008-07-11 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Perhaps the reality in which the invasion of Iraq was a disastrous misstep rather than the reality in which it was a sound and inevitable response to perceived national security threats, now known to be false, to the United States and it's allies.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-11 02:16PM | 0 recs
I think most of the country

gets that already, though McCain and Bush disagree; the question though is what happens next.

I also don't believe Iraq was Obama's calling card.  People stopped caring about Iraq in January and Hillary was still well ahead of him in that month.  Iraq got Obama into the door but it wasn't what propelled him forward.

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-11 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: I think most of the country

Well it certainly was the deciding factor in his getting to the 'left' of Hillary early in the piece, not that she made it difficult, but I still believe that it is the fundamental issue of the campaign.  Even if you believe the economy is the compelling concern of the electorate the trillion dollar cost of the war and it's long term impact on our global prosperity is strongly coupled, and you don't need much imagination to see the current price of oil as a possible consequence.  McCain has already tripped over that connection in his attempt to reconcile 'victory' with a balanced budget.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-11 02:27PM | 0 recs
People stopped caring about Iraq in January

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. June 26-29, 2008. N=1,026 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?"
6/26-29/08

Favor 30%
Oppose 68%
Unsure 2%     

Looks like only 2% "stopped caring."      

by Beren 2008-07-11 03:16PM | 0 recs
You don't get it

This poll doesn't measure how much anyone cares about the issue.  

When you combine smug with clueless, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in your opinion.

by Thaddeus 2008-07-11 03:46PM | 0 recs
Well, I got what you didn't.....

that the diarist is blowing it out his ass.

You have to be more than clueless to not figure that out.

by Beren 2008-07-11 04:20PM | 0 recs
Defiance in the face of correction

is not a sign of strength.  

by Thaddeus 2008-07-16 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Defiance in the face of correction

At least you do self criticism well.

by Beren 2008-07-17 05:34PM | 0 recs
Res ipsa loquitur.

by Thaddeus 2008-07-17 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Res ipsa loquitur.

Why would anyone go to a blog in order to talk just to himself?

by Beren 2008-07-17 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

He might want to continue to have the debate on the initial invasion , however I think with a wider general election audience a larger segment of folks are more interested in what is going on as of now .

It would be a stretch to argue or for me to believe he is in touch with present realities , he implicitly admits that with the trip he is taking and his I would continue to refine my position statement.

by lori 2008-07-11 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Are we conflating the decision to invade with it's execution?  There are many who probably believe that the only thing wrong with the invasion was that is was clumsily, even incompetently, executed.  The point about the 2002 decision is that the war was a mistake even if the level of violence is abating.  Tactical success can't yield strategic victory, especially where the magnitude of the error was so significant in the first instance.

Our challenge now, as I said to you recently, is to recover from this situation and carefully restore the sovereignty of Iraq and the balance of power in the Gulf.  But I don't see any scenario which is a net 'win' for US interests there geopolitically.  We will get points for doing no more harm, to be sure, but it is hard to see where our sacrifices have been prudent.

And as far as the 'war' on terrorism, we have ceded the initiative in Afghanistan and now face a resurgent Pashtun insurgency there which not only threatens to destabilise Afghanistan but Pakistan as well.  We must remedy this quickly or face another decade of damaging engagement in the region.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-11 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

We both are on a different page on the issue .

I certainly understand those who believe the invasion was clumsily executed frankly that would align closer to my views , I certainly don't think those who think the initial invasion was wrong are without merit as well.

However I strongly disagree with you that there can't be a net win for US interests there geopolitically .

I think we are on the path of a strategic success in Iraq if we see it through . I believe if we had taken the position of a lot of national democrats on the surge including Hillary Clinton we would have been in a far worse position.

Both Clinton and Obama failed in their judgement of the surge .

In terms of Afganistan I do not think we should jeopeardize the gains in Iraq , unless the military in Iraq think its a wise course of action to withdraw some troops from Iraq and shift it to Afganistan , otherwise we have to lean more on Nato to fulfill their obligations as per the Afganistan Compact.

by lori 2008-07-11 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

But the 'surge' is a tactical operation, let's just assume it is 'successful' for the sake of argument,  within the context of a strategic disaster.  And while you may disagree I would point to the recent, somewhat unequivocal, attitude of the Iraqi government, such as it is, on the strategic forces agreement and US military withdrawal as evidence.

Iraq is a majority Shi'ite nation with strong ties to Iran, more than one of it's current leadership, not to mention Sistani, spent years in exile there before assuming their current parliamentary role in Iraq's fledgling government.  Irrespective of the surge 'working' how do you see a tacitly democratic administration in Iraq not disturbing the balance of power in the Gulf in coming years?  What do you suppose the attitude of our other, Sunni, Gulf allies is to this unwelcome change?  And how does our demonstrably draining presence in Iraq not limit our operational flexibility in Afghanistan?  Our ability to project military force has been exposed as weaker than it was previously assumed to be, wouldn't you say?

Add to this the growing public perception in the Muslim world that the US is a threat to their sovereignty and aspirations, when we are not actually perceived as 'the enemy,' and I see little of benefit in our continuing involvement.  I just don't see how our 'pacification' of Iraq, if that is what it is, changes these fundamental factors.  Never mind that we have created a substantial opening for Russia to assume a more direct commercial role in competition for increasingly scarce energy resources in the region, specifically in their growing relationship with Iran and other former Gulf partners of ours..

Given that the whole justification for projecting power in the region was to remove the national security threat presented by the Sunni jihadist movement, largely based in Pakistan and embodied by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, I don't see how we have advanced our stated interests in the region one iota by the sacrifices we have made in blood and treasure.  How would our continued presence in Iraq, especially against the wishes of the government we helped create, improve matters there?  I see our national attitude as continuing to be out os step with the 'relaity' on the ground, and I am not talking about the statistics of violence in the provinces of Iraq, but the public and diplomatic perception in the Middle and Near East that we are not trustworthy or particularly competent when it comes to intervention.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-11 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Anybody who still think invading Iraq was a good idea is someone would probably wouldn't think twice about invading Iran.

I think how someone stands on the initial invasion tells quite a bit about how they would view future conflicts.

by Bush Bites 2008-07-12 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

How do you explain his outdated rhetoric on the stump on Iraq , I don't know if the man has ever even been to Iraq since the invasion .
Your statement would means you think Hillary's position outated, as well. I only bring Hillary up since we all know where your sympathies lay.

Next has has been to Iraq.

I think the real point is you don't know what you are talking about

by jsfox 2008-07-11 02:44PM | 0 recs
Dude, she does think

Hillary's position is outdated as well; she is certainly no Hillary shill as lori has been consistent about Iraq though I disagree with her point about McCain "risking his political career" on the surge.

How did McCain risk his political career when nearly every Republican supported the President on the idea of the Surge?  The pubs always walk lockstep with each other.  Those dems who voted against the AUMF were the ones who risked their careers as most of the dems voted in favor of the AUMF.

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-11 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Dude, she does think

No, he DID. But I would argue that he risked his career on a bluff. I think he brought up the surge thinking that nobody would ever do it. That way he could come out later on and say, "I said we should have put MORE troops in."

by vcalzone 2008-07-11 04:20PM | 0 recs
Once a McTroll,

always a McTroll.

by Beren 2008-07-11 02:52PM | 0 recs
How does disagreeing

with a position taken by the Democratic Party make one a McTroll?

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-11 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: How does disagreeing

Posting talking points right out of the GOP Book of Attacks Against Democrats makes one a McTroll.

by Beren 2008-07-11 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Lori, what's your reaction to Maliki calling for a timeline?

by vcalzone 2008-07-11 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

The reality is that our brave soldiers are dying to defend an Iraqi government that is in the pocket of the Ayatollahs in Iran. Maliki is propped up by the SCIRI and it's Badr militia which has been integrated into the Iraqi army. The Badr militia was founded in Iran by the Iranian revolutionary guard. They fought on the Iranian side in the Iran Iraq war.

That's why Bush has to fly into Iraq in secret and hole up at a fortified base while Ahmadinejad waltzed around Baghdad and the Green Zone like he owned the place on his recent visit.

We spent a trillion dollars to get rid of Iran's biggest enemy (Saddam killed almost a million Iranians in his war against Iran) and to hand Iraq to Iran on a silver platter.

But no worries the surge is working.

by hankg 2008-07-11 05:59PM | 0 recs
Iraq was a dumb war

Regardless of the execution, it was dumb, dumb, dumb to remove the only counterweight to Iran.

Moreover, the "execution" couldn't be anything other than what it was. Anybody knew these factions were going to be at each other's throats as soon as the dictator left.

Why would you think it would have been any different than Yugoslavia? Why?

by Bush Bites 2008-07-12 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Just for a moment..
can we pretend this is 2008...
Hagel removes for some Independants
the attitude toward Obama.
Can Obama move beyond the meme of "bi-partisan"
There is something happening in this campaign.
Who believes what and whom supports whom has been dictated for us for so long....
let me break it down to a common denominator...
music...
How many times have a Band or person reached you..been reduced to niches given as comparison?
Even though we knew different...
So...if folks surrender to the comfortable labels...fine..
others of us are moving beyond...
after all media tried to figure this out at one time..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i48BP1PUo FI

by nogo postal 2008-07-11 02:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Hagel's a great choice. Like McCain, Hagel served in Vietnam. But as a decorated Sergeant in the Army infantry, he likely came away with a much different perspective on the war than John McCain.

Hagel voted for the war crimes commission act. He is no better than Lyndie England.

But of course he has tremendous appeal to the crucial ESS demongraphic.

by Alice Marshall 2008-07-11 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Obama knows how to do things unlike Mcsame. Thank you for posting this.

by Politicalslave 2008-07-11 02:35PM | 0 recs
Hagel still doesn't get Vietnam -or Iraq

our "noble purpose?"  our "honorable intentions" in Iraq?

Please.  This guy is either endlessly willing to sling the cover story for U.S. aggression or he remains in denial about his own experience in Vietnam and still actually believes that U.S. invasions are designed to bring democracy.  

There are few Republican like him left?  I think I can bear the loss.

by Thaddeus 2008-07-11 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel still doesn't get Vietnam -or Iraq

You fundamentally misunderstand the man on this issue.  Read about his time in Vietnam and his relationship with his Democratic brother, who served with him in the same unit in 'Nam.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-11 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel still doesn't get Vietnam -or Iraq

Who cares about his experience in Vietnam or his relationship with his brother? What does any of that have to do with the rest of us?

Hagel supported all of Bush's policies that transformed Bill Clinton's peace and prosperity into war, recession and torture. Hagel voted for torture when he voted to confirm Roberts, Alito and when he voted for the war crimes commission act. Hagel is a radical anti-abortion troglydite. Just because he can get on Sunday morning tv without foaming at the mouth does not make him a good guy.

by Alice Marshall 2008-07-11 05:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel still doesn't get Vietnam -or Iraq

You really don't get it, do you?

I'm not going to educate you, frankly.  If you can't try to see people as people instead of political figures you'll miss genuine decency from time to time.

As to your question?  Why do those things matter?  If you'd bothered to spend thirty fucking seconds googling you'd have figured it out.  The two of them fought in the same squad in Vietnam, one a Democrat, the other a Republican.  They thought the war was a complete failure and mistake and a horrible waste of life.  They promised one another that if it ever happened again and they were in a position to do something about it, they would try.

Chuck Hagel is trying.  He came later to the party than I would have liked, but he came for absolutely no political benefit.  He's taken this position because he's an honorable man who's sickened at how we've apparently learned nothing from Vietnam.

Respect a person of principle even if you disagree with him or her.  If you don't all you'll ever get is politics as warfare.

The Republicans as a group are not evil.  They are misguided.  They are wrong.  They are also our countrymen, and some of them are damned good people.

Anytime I see a Senator take an unpopular and costly stance on principle I will applaud.  If you want this country to prosper you should do the same.  Dog him all you like for those things on which you disagree.  I will likewise dog him.  But that doesn't mean I don't respect the man.

He doesn't want another American soldier to risk his or her life for a cause so idiotic and poorly run as he himself did.  He didn't sell out on that.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-11 06:31PM | 0 recs
a rat leaving a sinking ship

but he came for absolutely no political benefit.

Hagel is like those creepy characters in banana republics who always change sides at the critical moment and survive every coup. He knows the Republican ship and he is grabbing one of the remaning life boats.

He voted to cut Medicare payments to doctors and give more money to insurance companies.

Hagel is a very bad politician who keeps very bad company.

by Alice Marshall 2008-07-11 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: a rat leaving a sinking ship

Thanks for reminding us, Ms. Marshall, that Hagel is anti-progressive (who just happens to be on the correct side in the Iraq debate).

by strongerthandirt 2008-07-12 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel still doesn't get Vietnam -or Iraq

Do you think our purpose in Iraq was "noble?"  Do you think our intentions were "honorable?"

This is my basic point.  If by our, you think he means the average soldier, well, I think most of them had no idea what they  were doing there.  If you mean the policy makers, there really should be no debate--they lied about the purpose of the invasion and were certainly not there for democracy.  If Hagel doesn't get that, he's an idiot.  If he does but is still puffing our honorable intentions, then he is a phony ideologue.

Excuse me for not applauding his reasonable position.

by Thaddeus 2008-07-16 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

Having him as a VP would be a major disaster but if they could get him to give a keynote address endorsin Obam at the Democratic convention, that would incredibly sweet.

by alexmhogan 2008-07-11 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

He's a hell of a lot more impressive than Lieberputz.

by Bush Bites 2008-07-12 08:45AM | 0 recs
Chuck Hagel on the issues

Check out Hagel's positions at:
http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/Chuck_ Hagel.htm

Except for Iraq, he's pretty much a Neanderthal.

by strongerthandirt 2008-07-12 05:36AM | 0 recs
by kevinlo529 2008-07-12 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel's Wife is an Obama Donor

According to Federal Election Commission records, Mrs. Hagel donated twice to Obama's campaign in February for a total contribution of $500. The contributions were first reported by the Washington Post

http://www.rawstory.com/news/mochila/GOP _senator_s_wife_donates_to_Obama_0529200 8.html

by Bush Bites 2008-07-12 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq

"...two different Senators with a much firmer grasp on reality will see the conditions first-hand, and return to the States to a hungry audience. What they say and how they say it could bring us closer to finally ending this war."

Oh, thank God. The U.S. is finally sending two Senators to Iraq who will have all the answers.
Are we not blessed?

by joliepoint 2008-07-12 01:35PM | 0 recs

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