Republican Senator: No Possible Victory or Loss in Iraq War
“I have never believed the way to frame the outcome in Iraq is victory or loss,” Hagel told CNSNews.com after a speech he made at Georgetown University in Washington DC. “I mean victory what do you mean victory? What will happen in Iraq is that the Iraqi people will decide what kind of country and what kind of government they want and that’s as it should be.”
“What do you win?” Hagel asked CNSNews.com. “What do you lose? I have never understood that and I have never framed our involvement in Iraq in that way.”
Throughout Monday’s speech, Hagel also was critical of the prospects of a military solution in Iraq.
“There is no military solution to Iraq,” said Hagel. “Of course there is not. There is no military solution to Afghanistan, there is no military solution to the Middle East.”
In October 2002, Hagel voted in favor of authorizing the use of military force against Iraq.
In his speech on Monday, Hagel also faulted the war for its cost in American lives and to the American economy, and he said the reversal of the surge is not happening quickly enough.
“The war has taken a tremendous toll on our nation both in blood and treasure,” said Hagel. “The fact is we have more troops in Iraq today than we had before this so called ‘surge.’ There is some inconsistency about claiming the surge was a ‘great success’ with no corresponding reality of pulling down the troops levels.”
Hagel added that even if Bush pulls out 8,000 soldiers, there still will be more troops in Iraq than there were before the surge.
Hagel, who has become one of the most prominent Republican voices opposing the U.S. presence in Iraq, has not yet endorsed a candidate for the 2008 presidential election.
“Ralph Nader,” Hagel replied in jest when a member of the Georgetown audience asked him "who amongst the candidates has the best policy and vision for America."
The British Sunday Times reported on March 2, that sources within the Obama campaign said they were considering Hagel for a senior-level position such as defense secretary.
But Hagel did not respond when an audience member asked him if he planned to accept a position in the Obama administration.