From CNN’s “Early Start”
January 8, 2013
CNN: Peter wrote what I think is (one of the) most … interesting and compelling articles about the Hagel nomination, explaining it perhaps better than anyone I’ve seen, including the president.
The first paragraph of the piece, you write, it may prove the most consequential foreign policy appointment of his presidency because the struggle over Hagel is a struggle over whether Obama can change the terms of the foreign policy debate. Explain that for me.
Peter Beinart: I think so far, the debate about military action in Iran has been conducted by and large in Washington, as if Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t happen.
As if we haven’t learned anything from the disaster (of) these two wars over the last 10 years. I think the real struggle between Hagel and his foes is he wants to bring some of the lessons in to the Iran debate that we learned about (Iraq) and Afghanistan.
He talks very compellingly about the fact wars once launched can’t be fully controlled. He is very cognizant of the enormous financial cost that these wars have imposed on the United States, and I think the heart of the hostility is the fear that his recognition about what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq will make taking us to war in Iran harder.
CNN: You suggest there are no consequences for the Iraq War in terms of those who supported or imposed it.
Beinart: What I said if you listen to Republican foreign policy discourse, with the exception of a few people like Chuck Hagel, you would think the Iraq War had been a great success.
Because all of the same people who said it was a great success are defining in large measure the debate over war on Iran, pushing the United States closer, and I think Hagel is a (messenger for) … the president to say, “Hold on a second here.
“I am going to set the bar for war higher than George W. Bush, and I don’t think this is a simple and easy thing.”
CNN: Why does Obama need that? Obama opposed the war in Iraq for longer than Chuck Hagel. Hagel voted for the invasion.
Beinart: Yes, that’s right. Chuck Hagel did. But … (he was) one of the few Republican senators who, after the war started, he began to rethink his view of the world. It’s not only about Iran. I think the other big thing about the Hagel nomination is that Obama wants someone to bring the Defense Department back into balance with America’s financial resources.
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Phi Beta Iota: A thoughtful article. It merits recognition that no one has gone to jail or been challenged for telling 935 now-documented lies that cost trillions in treasures and hundreds of thousands in blood. US national security policy is incoherent and dishonest. It is also not in the public interest as it now stands.