Tuesday, August 01, 2006

POLITICS - Another GOP Senator's Opinion on Iraq

"Hagel calls Iraq 'replay of Vietnam'" by JAKE THOMPSON, Omaha World-Herald
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Calling conditions in Iraq "an absolute replay of Vietnam," Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said Friday that the Pentagon is making a mistake by beefing up American forces in Iraq.

U.S. soldiers have become "easy targets" in a country that has descended into "absolute anarchy," the Nebraska Republican and Vietnam combat veteran said in an interview with The World-Herald.

He said that in the previous 48 hours, he had received three telephone calls from four-star generals who were "beside themselves" over the Pentagon's reversal of plans to bring tens of thousands of soldiers home this fall.

Instead, top Pentagon officials are suspending military rotations and adding troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has estimated that the buildup will increase the number of U.S. troops from about 130,000 to 135,000.

"That isn't going to do any good. It's going to have a worse effect," Hagel said. "They're destroying the United States Army."

Hagel previously has likened the war in Iraq to Vietnam, but Friday's comments drew a stronger connection.

They followed a speech on the Middle East that Hagel delivered at the Brookings Institution.

To an audience of several hundred scholars and diplomats, he called the Pentagon's troop decision a "dramatic setback" for the U.S. and Iraqi governments.

"America is bogged down in Iraq, and this is limiting our diplomatic and military options," said Hagel, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has often criticized the Bush administration on Iraq.

Iraq is an absolute replay of Vietnam, no doubt.

America, our solders, are now in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, no matter what the Administration thinks. This is an exact match to Vietnam even if some details are different. One of those details is in Iraq you have various groups fighting each other, and not North vs. South armies, but this makes no difference to Iraqis nor to America. The results are the same, many deaths on all sides, American prestige and reputation are greatly damaged for decades. As for the Middle East, our reputation is already beyond recovery and has been for years.

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