Vietnam Vet Knows Nothing About Vietnam
WASHINGTON (AP) — A leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate said Sunday that the war in Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and is looking more like the Vietnam conflict from a generation ago.
Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who received two Purple Hearts and other military honors for his service in Vietnam, reiterated his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to leave Iraq.
Hagel scoffed at the idea that U.S. troops could be in Iraq four years from now at levels above 100,000, a contingency for which the Pentagon is preparing.
“We should start figuring out how we get out of there,” Hagel said on “This Week” on ABC. “But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur.”
Hagel said “stay the course” is not a policy. “By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq … we’re not winning,” he said.
He may have earned two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam, but this comparison is both ridiculous and ahistorical — the insurgency in Iraq is not at all similar to what we faced in Vietnam, in organization, strategy, or ideology. The obvious difference in terrain makes Hagel’s statements even more ludicrous. The only way the analogy makes any sense whatsoever is if Hagel believes that we are enmeshed in a necessary conflict in which we see only tactical victory, but we retreat anyway because politicians fear losing the hippie vote.
Further, if it’s accurate to say that we cannot (not just shouldn’t) muster 100,000 troops for four years in a worst-case scenario, then I want a refund on my share of the DoD budget.
But obviously we can’t take Hagel’s statements too seriously; as the article notes, he thinks he’s running for something. Perhaps he aspires to become the Republican Dennis Kucinich.