Chuck Hagel continues to prove he can be an impressive thinker and analyst when he chooses to. The question continues to be: Can he be an impressive United States Senator? As a member of the majority, he never seemed to find ways to use the power of his office effectively to reorient national policy. As a member of the minority, can and will he find ways to forge coalitions with liberal Democrats to push the kind of foreign policy he’s interested in? Can he tempt other Republican members to throw Bush overboard? Little in his record inspires confidence that smart op-eds will lead to effective action, but he remains a very tempting figure the Republican who, from time to time, sees these national security matters much more clearly than his colleagues. And where’s Dick Lugar gone off to these days?
If you ask me, the problems with the training programs for the Iraqi security forces has essentially nothing to do with the number or quality of American trainers assigned to the task. Rather, it’s a mistake to see the problem as primarily one of organizational competence on the part of the security forces. After all, however bad the US-run training program may be, it’s hardly as if Sunni insurgents or Shiite militias have access to some radically better training program. The problems are problems of politics, morale, and motivation. “Iraq’s government has yet to confront the country’s militias,” because the government is dependent on the same political forces and actors who sponsor the militias, not because the police need a better training program.