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Friday, August 22, 2003

Senator Hagel's Comments
I mentioned earlier that I saw Senator Hagel talking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Here's an excerpt from the transcript of the show. I've highlighted the parts that I think are particularly interesting coming from a Republican senator.

BLITZER: Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, says the U.N.members, they're ready to play a greater role, they want to have more responsibilities, but they want to be involved in the decision- making process and not simply defer to the United States. What's wrong with his line of thinking?

HAGEL: Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with that line of thinking. And that is where we are trying to drive our resolution, with language acceptable to all of our friends and our partners and the United Nations.

BLITZER: But it would give up some of the control that Ambassador Bremer, for example, has right now in attempting to reconstruct Iraq, if he has to share responsibility with other members of the U.N.

HAGEL: Well, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with that. I don't think the United States wants to be in a position -- and I think when you look at what's happened over in Iraq the last 30 days, an increase in military incidents and violence and more deaths and more injuries and more wounded, with a hundred and -- now -- what? -- 145, 000 American troops in there, an area the size of California.

We can't maintain that burden alone. There is no way the United States can sustain the number of troops that we're going to need and the financial commitment that it's going to require to secure Iraq and stabilize it.

BLITZER: So why does Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration -- are they resisting what you clearly want together with Senator Biden and so many others?

HAGEL: Well, there's a bit of schizophrenia there as far as I'm concerned. On one hand my understanding of what Secretary Rumsfeld is saying, we are want more help. We want the French and the Germans and the Pakistanis and the Indians and others -- and the Turks -- but we don't want to put any more of our troops in. But we do need more help, we need more troops. So there's an acknowledgement on one hand in the administration that in fact we do need more help.

Well, in fact, if we do need more help, then we're going to have to find a formula that works so that these nations don't just put troops and money in and say to America, OK, you're in charge, you do whatever you want. There's a political dynamic here.

BLITZER: Bottom line, how much is it going to cost and how long are U.S. troops going to be stuck there?

HAGEL: Well, we keep asking the administration for that answer, and the administration has not given us an answer. Jerry Bremer said the other day $100 billion. The study out a few days ago said 300 to $400 billion over five years, over three years, four years. Senator Lugar has said, Senator Biden has said, I agree with, that we're probably there five years. Maybe that's four years.

But the fact is we know it's going to require hundreds of thousands of troops. It's going to require hundreds of billions of dollars. We know that.

BLITZER: It's a sobering thought. Senator Hagel, thanks very much.

HAGEL: Wolf, thank you.

So a Republican senator is saying on a popular cable news show that the administration is stonewalling, and lowballing the real amount of time and money needed to do whatever the heck we're doing in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of troops (read "draft"). Hundreds of billions of dollars taken out of the country (read "job losses", except for the poor shmucks who get drafted).