01/05/2013 07:59 am ET Updated Mar 07, 2013

Six Years Ago, Chuck Hagel Told the Truth About Iraq

You might have seen that on Monday President Obama will likely nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, to be Secretary of Defense.

But what you probably haven't seen -- because everyone has forgotten -- is that back in 2007, Chuck Hagel went totally crazy and told the truth about our invasion of Iraq. Here's what he said:

People say we're not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America's national interest. What the hell do you think they're talking about? We're not there for figs.

Whew! Wouldn't it put a spring in your step to read the news each morning and see Hagel's name? If he's willing to say that about Iraq, who knows what he'll bust out with next! He might mention that the sky is blue, or two plus two equals four... or even that we should change the name of the Department of Defense back to what it was before World War II -- the Department of War.

Now, I'm not saying Hagel is the best qualified choice for Secretary of Defense. (That would be Andrew Bacevich.) I'm not even saying he's the best qualified senator or ex-senator. (There are 19 of those -- the surviving senators who voted against invading Iraq in the fall of 2002. Hagel voted yes.)

But what I am saying is: thank you, Chuck Hagel. We may not agree on much, but we agree that politicians should tell the truth about war and peace and life and death. We're all in your debt for that -- especially since, when it comes to Iraq and oil, President Obama's first Republican Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, couldn't manage it.

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