Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Senator Chuck Hagel Speaking Up

Lately, Senator Hagel has been speaking up as one of the saner voices on the Republican side of the aisle. Given how much nonsense is happening in the White House and both Republican-controlled houses of Congress, I'm not sure how much Hagel can turn the tide but he gave a speech last week that suggests the outlines of restoring a bipartisan foreign policy which Bush has largely destroyed in the last four years.

Hagel spoke on foreign policy, the Middle East and Iraq. Here's an excerpt about Iraq from a full copy of the speech provided by Steve Clemons of The Washington Note:

There is very little good news coming out of Iraq today. Increasingly vicious sectarian violence continues to propel Iraq toward civil war. The U.S. announcement this week to send additional U.S. troops and military police back into Baghdad reverses last month’s decision to have Iraqi forces take the lead in Baghdad. . .and represents a dramatic set back for the U.S and the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi Government has limited ability to enforce the rule of law in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. Green Zone politics appear to have little bearing or relation to the realities of the rest of Iraq.

The Iraqis will continue to face difficult choices over the future of their country. The day-to-day responsibilities of governing and security will soon have to be assumed by Iraqis. As I said in November, this is not about setting a timeline. This is about understanding the implications of the forces of reality. This reality is being determined by Iraqis -- not Americans. America is bogged down in Iraq and this is limiting our diplomatic and military options. The longer America remains in Iraq in its current capacity, the deeper the damage to our force structure -- particularly the U.S. Army. And it will continue to place more limitations on an already dangerously over-extended force structure that will further limit our options and public support.

The Cold War, while dangerous, created a fairly stable and mostly predictable world order. That is no longer the case today. The challenges of the 21st century will be more complex and represent a world of greater degrees of nuance, uncertainty and uncontrollables than those of the last 60 years. America’s policy choices will be more complicated than ever before.

We must be clear in our principles and interests, with friends and foes alike. But framing the world in “absolutes” constrains our ability to build coalitions and alliances, alienates our friends and partners, and results in our own isolation. No country will view its interests as coinciding exactly with ours; nor will countries simply subsume their national interests to maintain relations with America. U.S. policies that are premised on such assumptions will be flawed, with little likelihood for success, and ultimately work against our national interests.

This liberal Democrat admires that Republican Senator Hagel used the phrase, 'degrees of nuance.' To paraphrase Bush, he once said: we don't do nuance; that was an admission of a limited mind which is strange since Bush hates admitting weakness.

We've seen Republicans make noise about doing things the way they're supposed to be done and then back off for one reason or another. In a later post, Steve Clemons points to a possible way that Senator Hagel could assert himself:

I asked the Senator about his views regarding John Bolton's confirmation as the Senator was not able to attend the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearings yesterday.

Senator Hagel has stated unambiguously that he is now "undecided" on John Bolton.

Voting no on John Bolton would send a loud and clear messsage that it's time to rein in Bush's reckless foreign policy.


Blogger Charlie said...

Senator Hagel has always impressed me with his views on foreign policy, largely because they take nuance and the long-term into account. His speech at the Brookings Institution on Friday made a lot of sense.

6:51 AM  

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