THERE’S BEEN NO STRATEGIC CONTEXT FROM THIS ADMINISTRATION ON ANYTHING. IT’S ALL ABOUT TACTICS. AND THAT IS WHAT I THINK, MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, HAS GOTTEN US IN THE MESS THAT WE’RE IN TODAY
Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R) appeared on “Real Time With Bill Maher” this past Friday and was rather outspoken in his opinions about, among other things, the war, the administration and the future of the Republican Party. But Hagel reserved his most damming criticism for the Bush Administration’s manipulation of Army General Petraeus to sell the failed surge and the larger debacle that is the War in Iraq.
What follows are the highlights of that conversation. For the entire program transcript, follow this link.
HAGEL ON BUSH’S SUPPORT OF THE WAR:
(It) is the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of our country, and we’re going to pay a very high price for this….
This country is bogged down in a very difficult situation in Iraq. I think this country is off balance….
I have been very clear on my position on where we need to go to unwind ourselves from this mess. I think eventually we will. But it’s going to – it’s going to project a very high toll on this country for a long time to come. And I think that’s wrong.
HAGEL ON THE POSSIBILITY OF WAR WITH IRAN:
We are at war in two countries, and not doing particularly well in either war. And I’m not sure the American people are about ready to go to a third war.
First of all, we don’t have the manpower to do it. The power of the Congress is rather clear on this, and if the president is inching towards a military confrontation with Iran, then I do think that is where the Congress of the United States draws the line.
HAGEL ON THE THREAT POSED BY IRAN:
The way to deal with Iran is to engage Iran in a broader strategic context for all the Middle East. And it isn’t a military confrontation, but it has to factor in Iran, Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli situation, Iraq.
HAGEL ON THE PRESIDENT’S MANAGEMENT OF THE WAR:
There’s been no strategic context from this administration on anything. It’s all about tactics. And that is what I think, more than anything else, has gotten us in the mess that we’re in today.
HAGEL ON USING GEN. PETRAEUS TO SELL THE CONTINUATION OF THE FAILED IRAQ STRATEGY:
Well, it’s not only a dirty trick, but it’s dishonest, it’s hypocritical, it’s dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is, this is not Petraeus’ policy. It’s Bush’s policy….
To put our military in a position that this administration has put them in, is just wrong. And it’s dangerous. And, of course, it’s obvious what – what they’re doing. Very transparent. The military – that institution, our armed forces – has the highest job approval, trust credibility rating of any institution in America.
HAGEL ON THE HIJACKING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY BY INCOMPETENTS AND RELIGIOUS FANATICS:
I think it’s been hijacked by incompetency. I think that’s what has driven the Republican Party right off the cliff. And we are not who we say we are. And that’s, at best, dishonest. We’ve run up the biggest budget debt since FDR, and he had an excuse, and that was a world war and a depression.
HAGEL ON THE FUTURE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY:
We are going to see, I think, over the next few years – and this election next year will begin a re-orientation of our party, both parties, American politics. The American people will demand it….
Elections are about self-corrections. And we will self-correct.
Get the entire transcript.
The irony here is that while Sen. Hagel may be voicing the opinions of many who tend to vote Republican – few of his GOP colleagues in either the House or Senate – at least for the record – concur.
As it is now constituted, the Republican Party is politically dominated by in the words of Bill Maher, “INCOMPETENTS AND RELIGIOUS FANATICS”, oblivious to the needs and desires of their rank and file constituents, and only interested in serving the needs of their benefactors, be they the titans of industry -many of whom are profiting handsomely from the war crimes of George Dubya Bush – or, war-mongering, hate preaching evangelicals.
I wish I shared Sen. Hagel’s optimism. While the course correction that he speaks of may ultimately come to pass - and I hope that it does - it will not be without much frustration and heartbreak.
There are forces inside this country, many of our major corporations and some of our more conservative faith based organizations among them, who do not want change. They will spend heartily to keep the deck stacked in their favor.
Perhaps a better course of action would be to jettison the so-called Republican Party and start again. This would enable conservatives of conscience and the more mainstream of republicans to build from the ground up a political party designed with adequate safeguards to prevent any reoccurrence of what has occurred to the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan took office and welcomed into the fold all manner of extremists.
It is important to remember as we go through our daily lives in these tumultuous times, that we must stand resolute in our belief that there is no place in our 21st century world for strategies built on hate and fear. These two cornerstones of the Bush Administration are the most damaging of emotions as they cripple progress and force men and women of good conscience to a place where action becomes almost impossible.
And for what gain? Money?
Thankfully, most of our country’s problems are economic and have to do with the redirection of the country’s wealth from the middle class to the super wealthy. This can be fixed. There is precedent. George Bush is not the only thug to lead our country down the path to where we are today.
At times like this, one can take solace in the words of a great America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who on the occasion of his inauguration to his first term as President, commented: “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance”.
Hopefully 2008 will bring our nation a leader with Roosevelt’s courage.
If I had a wish for America, this is it.