In his smack-down of Senator Chuck Hagel's idiotic op-ed on Iraq, Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse cites a history lesson that I'd forgotten--but one that perfectly illustrates the problems with any "cut and run" strategy in wartime. Call it the "Lenin Approach:"
Hagel’s myopia matches that of the new Soviet government in 1917 who were negotiating with the Germans an end to Russian involvement in World War I. The Germans were being extraordinarily harsh in their terms and the new Soviet government was balking.
Finally, the government hit upon a brilliant idea. Why not simply declare that the war was over and the Germans had won? Enormously satisfied with their own cleverness, Russian troops began to abandon their positions and start the long trek home.
The Germans didn’t quite know what to make of this. They were amazed. They decided to take the most direct approach possible and launched a massive attack against the retreating Russians. Only after slaughtering tens of thousands of more soldiers and gaining a hundred miles of territory did the Soviet government wake up and go back to the bargaining table where the Germans became, if anything, more demanding.
Hagel’s thinking may not be quite as muddled as Lenin’s. But it certainly reveals a man either lying to himself or so overcome with his own cleverness that it has blinded him to the simple realities of what is going to happen when we leave Iraq. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s just consider him self-deluded.
After all, he’s running for President…
I'll take Rick's analysis a step further, and offer another indictment of Hagel's thinking. Despite his years in the Senate (and aspirations to be Commander-in-Chief), Senator Hagel's military perspective is still that of a infantry squad leader in Vietnam, where he served honorably. Hagel has been long convinced that Iraq is another quagmire, a military problem that can be remedied only through a unilateral U.S. withdrawal. Afterall, it worked in Vietnam. Those feared "dominoes" never tumbled, even if the communist victory (and subsequent bloodbath) consumed millions of lives in Cambodia and South Vietnam.
As Rick points out, Senator Hagel's "peace with honor" strategy may produce some political breathing room, but it will contribute nothing towards long-term peace and stability in the Middle East, or hear at home. Inviting Iran and Syria to help chart the region's future course--while executing a swift retreat from Iraq--is nothing more than an open invitation to the jihadis. The Hagel solution will only result in a partitioned Iraq, the eventual capitulation of the gulf states, and a regionally-dominant, nuclear-armed Iran. And, if that's not enough, imagine Iran's terrorist proxies in full charge of Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, and bin Laden's resurgent minions, free to resume their war against our homeland.
Such would be the legacy of Hagel's "solution." Personally, I don't think the Senator has much of a chance at winning the GOP nomination in 2008. But there is the frightening possibility that "President" John McCain might name his good friend as Secretary of Defense. Or Secretary of State.