« Economic Slowdown in Japan | Main | Yes, Virginia, There Is (Still) a Shrillblog »

December 22, 2004

"Ladies and Gentlemen?" Shouldn't That Be "Horrors and Monsters"?

The Poor Man brings us the breaking news that Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is shrill:

Ladies and gentleman, please put your tentacles together for the new Grand Heresiarch of the Order of the Shrill, Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel!

Deteriorating conditions in Iraq are a consequence of "the arrogance and incompetency of the civilian leadership at the Pentagon," Sen. Chuck Hagel said Monday. Increasing violence and instability spring from "the accumulation of a series of bad judgments," the Nebraska Republican said. Pointing to decisions to disband the Iraqi army, dismantle the Baathist government bureaucracy and attempt to secure the country with an inadequate number of U.S. troops, Hagel suggested "the buck does stop somewhere." ...

"It's always the uniformed military that has to bear the brunt of bad decisions," Hagel said. "They do the dying and the suffering," he said, and their families sacrifice, too. Never will he utter "a criticism of the warrior," Hagel said, but the military's civilian leaders must be held accountable. "I went through one of these wars," he said. As a member of the Senate, he said, "I am not going to stand back and allow it to happen again." Hagel was twice wounded as an Army sergeant in Vietnam.

"These men and women deserve leadership that is worthy of them," Hagel said. When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "flippantly dismisses" a young soldier's question about lack of protective armor on military vehicles in Iraq, Hagel said, "that is not worthy." When it was discovered Rumsfeld's signature on letters of condolence to slain soldiers' families was signed by an auto-pen rather than by the secretary himself, Hagel said, "that tells me an awful lot." ...

Responding to questions from students, Hagel said he believes the United States needs to seek more international cooperation rather than simply exercise its military might. "I would put a whole new focus on diplomacy, building coalitions of common interest," he said. "We have strayed from that very wise course."< p/>

Senator Hagel, I believe I speak for everyone here tonight when I say "ph'nglui mglw'nafh Hagel R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn."

"Arrogance and incompetency" is good. But what do we call those who hire and keep the arrogant and incompetent in their jobs? The shoggoths, after all, do work for Yog-Sothoth--not the other way around.

Posted by DeLong at December 22, 2004 01:11 PM

Comments

Nice to see Hagel talking about putting "a whole new focus on diplomacy, building coalitions of common interest." If I remember right, the last politician who said exactly that was John Kerry.

No wonder DeLay is busy running down the "unpatriotic naysayers" who are "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." Too bad some of them are apparently in his own party.

And too bad there aren't hundreds more of them.

Posted by: Derelict at December 22, 2004 01:52 PM


Well, throw Rummy-the-hotdog overboard, and everybody knows who's left. Dubya already has the lowest approval rating of any re-elected president,--which probably means, Kerry really did win Ohio! (And maybe a couple of other places too. If you will shoot a doctor for abortion, what little emotional matter is fixing a voting machine?) The Iraqi Debacle is, after all, only just another bad business decision by Our Little Bushie, whose whole life is a series of short Hail Mary passes, which, even if they are successful, are only ever aimed to get him into the next quarter--the next three months, that is! After that, you figure out something else!... Indeed, the Social Security privatization plan should be characterized as an "Iraqi War"-type of solution... We are being treated to the shortsightedness of a psychopathy--or of a guilt-complex so huge, it's taken on Shakespearean dimension. Do not listen to Shinseki, Zinni, the Army War College. The CIA cantake the fall, if anything goes wrong.. Do not listen to O'Neill, Krugman, Anybody Else who can wrangle a number: maybe he thought running-up the debt wouldn't matter, because he'd be sitting atop a third the world's oil? The joke on the Wall Street Journal crowd is: even if we did subdue the Sunnis in time, in a fair election the Shias will win, and the wily Sistani will show the U.S. the door, chat with the Iranians, create petro-Euros. So we're staying put... Well, the Marines have to hunt down all the flesh-fatted dogs full of rabies in Fallujah. And the Wall Street crowd is still doing all right!

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold at December 22, 2004 02:05 PM


Diplomacy? Now? With whom?

Charles

Posted by: charles at December 22, 2004 02:14 PM


Charles, i believe at this point that references to "diplomacy" should be understood as veiled references to "a government that no longer contains donald rumsfeld and his fellow travellers," and not an actual expectation that there is anyone with whom we can diplomatically solve anything with respect to iraq....

Posted by: howard at December 22, 2004 02:31 PM


Hagel is gearing up to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. He has been critical of the way the administration has handled Iraq almost from the beginning -- Kerry quoted one of Hagel's sound bites during the debates. He won by a huge landslide in 2002, so he's probably not scared of the neocons' threats.

Assuming that Iraq continues to be a long, slow slog, it will be interesting to watch the potential Republican candidates. Some, like Hagel, will start early to try to separate themselves from the administration's policies over there.

Posted by: Michael Cain at December 22, 2004 02:44 PM


It is encouraging that this turn of events (Hagel
speaking out)is happening now. This is normally
a dull news time, so we can imagine Karl and aWol were expecting a pleasant vacation from normal responsibilities.

Posted by: Self-Negotiator at December 22, 2004 02:45 PM


At least it answers one question our host frequently asks: we may have at least one grown-up Republican.

Posted by: masaccio at December 22, 2004 03:16 PM


I'm not so sure that the Military leaders are less to blame than the Executive Branch. Consider the vocabulary used. The most recent disaster in Mosul needs examination of at least two aspects : the "tent" and the Iraqi Military in the "tent".

The "tent" appears to be a structural steel framed building with concrete foundations anchored permanently to a concrete foundation. The covering is a structural fabric regularly used in a wide number of permanent facilities ... the Pilgrims waiting area in Jedda Saudi Arabia Airport, NFL stadiums in the USA, etc. It has a concrete floor, Mechanical and Electrical Systems (A/C, plumbing, etc.) and the latest in food preparation, service and sanitation equipment. The miss-nomer of "tent" by reporters as well as the Military is less than accurate to portray the support we give to our soldiers. It is a first class Dining Hall.

Among the fatalities were unidentified nationalities referred to as connected to the Iraqi Military Army?). We employ hundreds of Iraqis to work in our dining halls as cooks, dishwashers, and all other related duties. I'd bet there are large laundries and tailor shops on base to do the menial work and to maintain troop morale. Some even aid in Base Security. It is the duty of the Military Leaders to insure the safety of our troops. The dependance on vendors to provide food, comfort, and sanitary services in a hostile locale is a problem overlooked in assessing troop strength and safety. The US Military leaders have long ago enhanced military service by contracting out non-combatant jobs. Iraq (and Viet Nam) should be a lesson that in hostilities lasting more than a few months you need USA soldiers as support staff. The policy for support is the duty of the Military Leadership not the Executive Branch. There is certainly serious error in the planning for operations if we outsource in hostile locales.

The vocabulary used in reports of this most serious incident is questionably diversionary from other military problems not correctly spoken or written about that need fixing. (IMHO). Perhaps we need to rethink the "Army we have". Maybe we can't fight 3 wars at one time. Maybe we have over-exposed vulnerabilities. Maybe we need friends and allies now more than ever. Maybe we ain't (weren't) ready for peremptory action...and that faults the Military Leadership's advice and guidance.

Posted by: donmaj at December 22, 2004 03:18 PM


Maybe some of those uniformed personnel need the guts to quit if the plan is totally crazy.

Posted by: sm at December 22, 2004 04:11 PM


You know, I was watching Fox News in the gym, and one of the reporters made the important observation that most of Iraq was quite peacefull and it was "only in the populated areas" that there were problems. Yes he really said it.

I'm beginning to see a theme here with the frequent observations that almost all of America voted for Bush and it was only the troublesome populated areas that went for Kerry.

Posted by: Kuas at December 22, 2004 04:18 PM


Nice rant Senator. Planning on doing anything about it? Or is a soundbite all you think necessary?

Posted by: flory at December 22, 2004 04:45 PM


"It's always the uniformed military that has to bear the brunt of bad decisions," Hagel said. "They do the dying and the suffering," he said, and their families sacrifice, too. Never will he utter "a criticism of the warrior," Hagel said, but the military's civilian leaders must be held accountable. "I went through one of these wars," he said. As a member of the Senate, he said, "I am not going to stand back and allow it to happen again." Hagel was twice wounded as an Army sergeant in Vietnam.

...........................

You are not going to stand back and let it happen again, huh?
So remind us all exactly why you supported invading Iraq in the first place, and why you didn't speak out against the re-election of the head cheerleader for the invasion.

Posted by: Maynard Handley at December 22, 2004 09:07 PM


donmaj, I don't think there are any US soldiers left with the MOS of cook, latrine orderly, or anything like those things. That outsourcing has been going on for a long time. It might have been practical during the latter stages of the Cold War, when we thought we'd be fighting from Germany, but it doesn't appear to make much sense in the current situation.

Since we don't have enough soldiers to do combat without calling up Reservists and and National Guardsmen, we appear to be stuck with the model.

I note that I did telecommunications work as a civilian DOD contractor for the Army as far back as the mid-1970s on Kwajalein; there were only about 10 military personnel on the entire island, as I recall.

Posted by: Linkmeister at December 22, 2004 10:07 PM


Why does Chuck Hagel hate America? Why does he want the enemy to win? Why does he hate our troops?

Oh, wait.

Posted by: Brian at December 22, 2004 10:13 PM


>You know, I was watching Fox News in the gym, and one of the reporters made the important observation that most of Iraq was quite peacefull and it was "only in the populated areas" that there were problems. Yes he really said it.


That's basically just a variation on the time-honored "Sunni triangle" scam or the "15 out of 18 provinves are calm" scam, only a little bit more upfront.

What is always not mentioned is that about 80% of the population lives in those 3 provinces/triangle.

The rest of the country is a fucking desert.


Posted by: Felix Deutsch at December 22, 2004 10:28 PM


The problem is, blaming it all on Rumsfeld shields the real screw-up: the man who hired Rumsfeld, gave him his orders, cut him slack, and still praises him to the skies. Donald Rumsfeld is bad and deserves to go - what does that say about George W. Bush?

Posted by: Tom Beck at December 23, 2004 08:05 AM


Not that Hagel would allow polling to sway his public statements, but....I wonder how his constituent mail is running? I wonder how constituent mail among his colleagues is running, cause I'll bet he asked them. Yes, it's good to have him say that Rummy is a dummy, but Rummy has been screwing up for a long time. Saying so now, after the fad is well underway, it isn't leadership. If this is just the path of least resistance to the White House, then we need to keep an ear cocked for the next self-interested political calculation, and the next and the next. They won't all be resolved for the greater good.

Posted by: kharris at December 23, 2004 11:36 AM


No more heresiarchs are needed. We need ones who can find out what the ancients know.

Posted by: cloquet at December 23, 2004 11:50 AM