Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, has seen war up close and personal. He knows the human devastation that is the main byproduct of war. To ignore important voices and views like those of his is colossally dumb by any intellectual and moral standards.
I've pointed this out before, but it's a good refresher to note -- the people who bellow the loudest and beat their chests the hardest in favor of war always seem to be the people who've never worn a military uniform, avoided war when it was their chance to serve and who think war is just a dandy experience as long as it is other people's children doing the killing and dying. Those chickenhawks to whom I refer know very goddamn well what I'm talking about.
I think Obama had better be extremely careful as to any plans he may be reviewing and considering for ratcheting up the level of U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.
As Sen. Hagel so astutely observes:
"Bogging down large armies in historically complex, dangerous areas ends in disaster. In Vietnam, we kept feeding more men, material and money into a corrupt Vietnamese government as our own leaders continued to deceive themselves and the American people. Today's wars are quite different from Vietnam. But the Obama administration, Congress and the Pentagon must get this right because it will frame the global architecture for the next generation. We must put forward fresh thinking. We can no longer hold ourselves to narrow "single issue" engagement when dealing with nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil, Turkey or South Korea. The United States needs all these countries and many more if we are to engage the most dangerous challenges -- not one at a time but all together. Our relationships with these nations have matured since World War II, as these nations have matured. Does anyone believe we will get to a responsible resolution on Iran without Russia? There's a reason we are part of a Group of 20 rather than a G-8. Even the world's largest economies cannot handle today's problems alone."
George Santayana wrote in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Those instructive words should weigh heavy on Obama's mind as he contemplates the next steps in dealing with this very serious subject.