Many people tend to associate Chuck Hagel with John McCain, and not without reason. But here’s a big difference — while both can be spectacularly wrong, McCain can also be spectaculary right.
Consider Senator McCain’s statement to CBS News about the analogy between Vietnam and Iraq that Senator Hagel has posited:
Vietnam never had a legitimate government in Saigon that the people believed in and trusted. There was superpower engagement in a huge way. [In Iraq] we [have] a problem with the Syrians — but nothing like what the Chinese and Russians were doing for the North Vietnamese. You had basic sanctuary in North Vietnam. The whole situation, I think, was very, very different.
And I’d like to point out one additional aspect. When we left Vietnam, there wasn’t a fear that the Vietnamese would come after us. If we fail in Iraq, it will be cataclysmic. You’ll see factionalization and eventual Muslim extremism and terrorist breeding grounds that would, I believe, pose a direct threat to the security of the United States. And I’m very glad that the American people — understandably dissatisfied, understandably frustrated — still, the majority of them don’t think we ought to cut and run.