Leaving Iraq … honorably?

News & Politics

At the end of an otherwise highly cogent op-ed about getting out of Dodge, Senator Chuck Hagel (NE) -- a "moderate" who's been known to brag about his 100% rating from the American Conservative Union -- offers this bit of Nixonian rhetoric:

It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder -- one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.
The column's titled, "Leaving Iraq, Honorably," and while Hagel has to embrace that as a possibility for obvious reasons -- political reasons -- the potential for leaving with "honor" (at least within the framework of the kind of analysis favored on cable news stations -- truly honorable results could never have followed a war of choice against a third-rate power) is a fading image in our rearview mirrors. We will leave Iraq when domestic pressure reaches a tipping point -- unlikely with Bush in the White House -- or when the more powerful Shiite factions in Iraq decide they've had enough with the occupation forces keeping them from getting their full-blown civil war on, whichever comes first.

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