Chuck Hagel is almost the model of a sane and moderate Republican, the kind we Lefties wish more of those across the political divide were like. He's also a decorated Vietnam veteran and a widely-respected moderately-conservative voice on American foreign policy. Which makes it interesting indeed that he won't endorse John McCain, citing fundamental foreign policy disagreements. ABC yesterday:
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R - Neb., said this morning he is not ready to endorse Sen. John McCain, R - Ariz., for president.Like Hagel counts the Iraq occupation as one of the five biggest blunders in American history while McCain would be happy if it continued for another 100 years. Hagel thinks Bush's policy in Iraq is "ping pong game with American lives" while McCain wants more of the same. And despite the crowing of the pro-Surge crowd, who have ignored all Petraeus' warnings in their rush to cry "mission accomplished" once again, it looks like the window of opportunity is nearly closed and Hagel will be proven right.
"I think endorsements, at least when I endorse someone, or when I work for someone, or commit to someone, I want to be behind that person in every way I can," Hagel said in an exclusive "This Week" interview.
Hagel pointed to their differing views over foreign policy in explaining his hesitation. "I've obviously got some differences with John on the Iraq war. That's no secret. I want to understand a little more about foreign policy, where he'd want to go. Certainly doesn't put me in Obama or Clinton's camp. But John and I have some pretty fundamental disagreements on the future of foreign policy," he said.
Tensions are simmering again in once bloody Anbar province, Washington's prize good news story for security in Iraq.Sawhar councilmen are already calling for a national strike of Awakening members - something the central government will either ignore or see as a threat to its authority. The first will see a slow return to insurgency of non-cooperative Sunni militias, the second will see that happen swiftly and explosively. At just the same time, Muqtada al-Sadr's feud with the central coalition of Dawa and SIIC parties has become impossible for Ayatollah Sistani to continually manage and defuse. There's a storm coming in.
Along the main road through Anbar's second city of Falluja, a former insurgent stronghold and scene of fierce battles with U.S. forces in 2004, markets and car workshops are re-opening for business.
But many say that growing anger at a lack of jobs, basic services and political progress threatens to shatter peace in the western province, which makes up about a third of Iraq.
"The situation till now is still not certain in Anbar, and the peace is only relative to before. Calm always comes before a storm," Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Yaseen al-Badrani said.
The U.S. military said in January it could transfer security responsibility for Anbar to Iraqi forces as early as this month, but now it is more cautious.
In an interview with Reuters, Major-General John Kelly, commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, would give no time-frame, saying only that the handover would take place soon.
Sunni tribal leaders, credited with cutting violence in Anbar by ordering their men to turn on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, are growing increasingly impatient with politicians.
"We thought that when security was established in Anbar, then the situation would turn to development and reconstruction, but we're surprised to see neglect from the government," said Kamal Nouri, a member of Anbar's tribal council.
I'm going to be called a doom-monger and defeatist by the pro-occupation Right for this, I know. They said the same when their belief that US troops would be greeted as liberators was questioned, when they were told that the insurgency was more complex than just Al Qaeda foreign fighters, when people wrote that the glaring gaps in the Iraqi constitution would lead to sectarian violence, when we said Mookie wasn't dead yet (repeatedly), when we said that the Sunni Awakening was an aliance of convenience...