Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Vietnam veteran, represents the opposing stance, that we should “redeploy” our armed forces, in other words pull out and allow the Iraqis to sink or swim. We have seen Bush dither as the situation has devolved in stepwise fashion on his watch.
Here's a blurb from Chuck Hagel's op-ed from this past weekend:
"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...
The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq. The cost of combat in Iraq in terms of American lives, dollars and world standing has been devastating. We've already spent more than $300 billion there to prosecute an almost four-year-old war and are still spending $8 billion per month.
It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission [aka, ISG] 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. “
This is basically the position that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a decorated combat veteran, had taken several months ago for which he was called a “coward” by Rep Jean Schmidt (R-OH); and this is the option which the president, vice-president, RNC Director Ken Mehlman, Sean Hannity, Karl Rove and other chickenhawks have labeled "cut and run." And the list of experts that have taken the public wrath of the administration is impressive:
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said in May 2006, "I think that the United States should soon begin its process of redeployment."
Former National Security Agency director and retired Lt. Gen. William E. Odom wrote in the May/June 2006 issue of Foreign Policy, "America must withdraw now."
Retired Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard Jr. and retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns wrote in November 2005, "There may well be some negative consequences as a result of withdrawing of U.S. troops, but fewer, we believe, than if we continue on the present course. Ultimately, the United States will be stronger if we leave the quagmire that is Iraq to resolution by its own citizens."
In a November 2005 interview, retired Army general William Nash said, "This is not a situation of figuring out the perfect solution. So I am one who believes strongly that our presence is now a detriment to our achieving our goals. As a consequence, I would say we need to be looking for excuses to withdraw, not for reasons to stay.
On October 18, Richard L. Armitage, who served [in the Bush administration] as deputy secretary of state from 2001 until 2005, expressed his support for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops.
And the Dailykos gives more detractors:
"Add to that list former Senator McGovern and William Polk, who in their new book Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now propose starting withdrawal this year, with a complete withdrawal completed by mid-2007. Oh, and add Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, who called for a withdrawal of troops after the election in 2005 (with complete withdrawal in 2007). Add Barry R. Posen, director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (who argued in January for a complete withdrawal within 18 months). Add former senior counterterrorism official Richard A. Clarke. And add Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. In his op-ed, Carpenter calls for a withdrawal beginning today."
The tsunami of public opinion is engulfing the administration and the only option will be to pursue a “phased redeployment.” The facts on the ground have dictated this eventuality for over a year, and probably two, but the president has dithered away every opportunity to do the right thing. Mr. Bush has broken our military, the nation of Iraq and our international credibility. He has been directly responsible for the deaths or mutilation of hundreds of thousands of people, and that number will surely triple after we leave Iraq.
Unlike Vietnam, the loss of Iraq has significant geopolitical ramifications because 40% of the world's oil comes from the region, but also because neighboring Iran will be strengthened politically and economically by a Shia Iraq, and not least, a failed state in Iraq would surely give terrorist jihadists the perfect training ground.
Next post, we'll discuss what else Bush can destroy in his remaining 24 months.