Hagel To Join Obama In Iraq
by Josh Orton, Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:15:00 PM EDT
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.