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Chuck Hagel on War & Peace

Republican Sr Senator (NE)


2002: Bush administration said they were not going to war

"What is going on here? You guys say you're not going to war--you're going to war!"
--Chuck Hagel, to Colin Powell, Aug.27, 2002
"You're going to have to occupy Iraq for years. The idea that democracy will suddenly blossom is something I can't share."
--German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Feb.2003
"The innocent slaughter of Muslims will create, in essence, what Obama bin Laden was unable to do, a united Islamic jihad against us."
--Rep. John Larson, on Iraq, Aug.21, 2002
Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 32 Oct 1, 2008

Neo-conservative ideology took us into this war of choice

So why did we invade Iraq? I believe it was the triumph of the so-called neo-conservative ideology, as well as the Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice. This ideology presented a myopic vision of a democratic Middle East that would inject a large permanent American force presence in the region to act as the guarantor of a regional realignment. They believed that by taking the relatively easy step of toppling Saddam, they could begin to realize this vision through the use of America's unequaled military power, thereby establishing America's preeminence in the Middle East and bolstering the defense of Israel. They obviously made a convincing case to a president with very limited national security and foreign policy experience, who keenly felt the burden of leading the nation in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil.
Source: Our Next Chapter, by Chuck Hagel, p. 50 Mar 25, 2008

Shocking how little Congress & media challenged Bush on Iraq

To the astonishment of those of us who lived through the agony of Vietnam, these lessons were ignored in the run-up to the Iraq War. The administration cherry-picked intelligence to fit its policy, used fear and the threat of terrorism to intensify the war sloganeering (particularly in speeches by the vice president), and dampened the possibility of dissent by denying that it had decided to go to war even though it had already made that decision before the debate even began.

It is shocking how little Congress or the media challenged the Bush administration. That is not too far-removed from the way the tragedy in Vietnam unfolded 40 years earlier. Unlike Vietnam, however--which did not represent vital strategic security interests for America--the war in Iraq and its consequences are playing out against a backdrop of the world's largest reserves of petroleum, and the contagion of a virulent strain of religious fanaticism that threatens to inflame the entire Middle East.

Source: Our Next Chapter, by Chuck Hagel, p. 38 Mar 25, 2008

Our current Iraq policy is not worthy of soldiers’ sacrifice

One thing we cannot continue to do, the American people won’t allow it, the Congress won’t, is to continue to put our men and women in the middle of a civil war. Our policies should be worthy of the sacrifices our men and women make. It is not today. It is not a workable policy. So that means we’re going to have to shift.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Engage with Iran & Syria; follow Baker-Hamilton

Q: Do you now believe that it’s time to set a timeline for troop withdrawal?

A: Well, it’s going to be forced on us. We come back into session tomorrow, as you know, the fiscal year 2008, defense authorization bill’s going to be up. We’re going to have a number of amendments related directly to Iraq. One of those amendments is going to be withdrawal. We need a phase withdrawal plan. We need a redeployment plan. But we also need, just as Baker-Hamilton said, engagement with Iran, with Syria.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Internationalize Iraq or we’ll be seen as occupiers

We need to have a special envoy. Hopefully, Tony Blair’s willing to put the time into it, and he’s got the mandate and authority to deal with the Israeli/Palestinian issue, internationalize Iraq. These are all factors that have to play out with a larger, wider scope of policy. We’ve not done that in the past. If we don’t do that, we’re going to find ourselves in so much trouble, in such a deep hole that our influence will be negligible because we’re seen by the Iraqis in the Middle East as occupiers.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Open to withdrawal timelines, but look at other issues too

Q: What about trying to set some kind of timeline, a date to get troops either redeployed or withdrawn completely?

A: I’m open to that, I want to look at that. But it has to be more than just withdrawal and timelines and responsible phased withdrawals. All these other things have to be dealt with as well. Yes, you’ll pull your troops out, but the fact is we still have interests in Iraq. The Middle East is more dangerous today, more combustible, more complicated than we’ve ever seen.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Bush administration wanted to go to war with Saddam

There’s no question that this administration, certainly almost everyone at the top from the president and the vice president on down--I think Colin Powell was the only one that pushed back. This administration wanted to go to war with Saddam. They were not prepared. They got us into a lot of trouble. They have done great damage to our standing in the world, to our military, to our own interests, to our influence. But we’re not going to go back and unwind those bad decisions.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

No Iraq military solution; focus on political accommodation

Q: What about Iraq?

A: What troubles me most is the fact that we are not focused on the real issue here. We have been captive to a continuous cycle of uncontrollable violence produced by a sectarian war, a civil war. As General Petraeus has said, there will be no military solution in Iraq. Well, of course there will not be. Our focus should be on a political accommodation. Now, is there a role for our military? Of course there is. But we can’t continue to put our people in the middle of a civil war and think that this is going to get better or you’re going to improve the situation.

Q: But the president has argued that political accommodation & political reconciliation can only happen when there is a level of stability and security in the country for that to emerge.

A: Well, I think we have inverted the process. Of course, security and stability that requires a military force is part of that. But how do you break the cycle of violence? [We need to] regionalize and internationalize this.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Outcome in Iraq will be determined by the Iraqis

Q: You wrote in an op-ed piece, “If there’s Iraqi resistance to the idea of an international mediator coming in trying to strike a deal on political reconciliation between Sunni, Shia and Kurd, that we should be clear with Iraq’s leaders,” you wrote, “that this initiative is a condition of a continued US support.” So take the American face off of this both militarily and politically?

A: Well, as I’ve said from the beginning, the outcome in Iraq will be determined by the Iraqis. It’s not going to be determined by the US. We can help, we can support, and we have a role. Obviously we have an interest. We are where we are. We’ve got a mess on our hands in Iraq. We have done so much to undermine our own interests and influence in the Middle East, we’re going to have to find some new high ground here. One thing we cannot continue to do, the American people won’t allow it, the Congress won’t, is to continue to put our men and women in the middle of a civil war.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Iraq was a war of choice, like Vietnam

Q: You said, “I read everything I could about Indochina, about the war, about the French, about Vietnam, about our policy, what got us there. And the more I read, the more I understood. So I started connecting all the deaths and all the suffering and the chaos & wounds. I started to sense a dishonesty about it all.” A profile published in June said, “Hagel now saw the war in Vietnam, like the war in Iraq, as a war of choice--one that had been built on an edifice of lies.” An edifice of lies--you believe that about this war in Iraq?

A: Well, I certainly believe it was an edifice of distortions. And we are finding out more and more about how we got into this war--the distortions, the manipulation, taking certain intelligence pieces to fit your policy.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Congress should oppose Bush’s actions, but not impeachable

Q: You said: “The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore.” This is in Esquire magazine. “You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment.”

A: I was responding to a question, “What can the Congress do if the president says ‘I don’t care’?” So I was responding, “No, there are things we can do.” We control appropriations. And in the end, I said, “There’s always impeachment if that focused on him breaking the law.” But what I was doing there was just responding to a question.

Q: Do you think there’s more momentum for impeachment now?

A: Well, you can’t just arbitrarily impeach a president. There have to be articles of impeachment drawn up based on did the president obstruct or lie or violate something in the Constitution? It’s clear.

Q: And you would oppose that?

A: Well, certainly, I don’t see anything today. I think the president believes that this is the right course of action. I happen to disagree with him.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Jul 8, 2007

Soldiers in Iraq deserve a policy worthy of their sacrifice

The IAFF president said, “Our leaders squandered an opportunity to bring people together, to build consensus for a bipartisan effort to secure our homeland. Instead, we ended up with self-serving agenda that divided us.” That frames the one dominant issue for the election of 2008. That is this nation’s search for a consensus of purpose. That must include a bipartisan consensus of purpose. What America will be looking for is a government led by leaders who are honest, competent, and accountable -- who will focus on fixing America’s problems in a dignified and responsible way.

Americans deserve a country, and a government, worthy of them and their sacrifices. The sacrifices made by firefighters, by policemen, by teachers, and certainly our armed forces -- is all about interests greater than their own self-interest. That is who we are.

The brave young men fighting in Iraq deserve a policy worthy of their sacrifices.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC Mar 14, 2007

US in “deep trouble” in Iraq

The fact is, we’re in trouble. We’re in deep trouble in Iraq. And I think we’re going to have to look at some recalibration of policy.
Source: Josh White, Washington Post Sep 20, 2004

Iraq took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan

Hagel was an early voice warning against precipitate U.S. military action in Iraq without international support and preparation for the aftermath. The administration “took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan” and has overextended the US military, Hagel said. Iran and North Korea were far more dangerous threats than Iraq, he said.

Hagel said the US needs to work with its allies and regional leaders in resolving nuclear development concerns in Iran as it now is doing in North Korea. “The military option in Iran is off the table,” he said. Hagel, addressing a veteran’s group, is a Vietnam combat veteran twice wounded in the war.

Hagel said that concerns expressed to him about Iraq policy were legitimate. “I don’t think we planned well. I don’t think we prepared well. I don’t think we understood what we were getting into.”

Source: Don Walton, Lincoln (NE) Journal-Star Aug 15, 2004

Voted NO on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months.

Vote to transition the missions of US Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007: S.AMDT.3875 amends S.AMDT.3874 and underlying bill H.R.2764:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"

  1. Security for US Government personnel and infrastructure
  2. Training Iraqi security forces
  3. Equipment to US service men and women to ensure their safety
Targeted operations against members of al-Qaida.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since [2003]. Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.

"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.

"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."

Reference: Safe Redeployment Of US Troops From Iraq Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.3875 to H.R.2764 ; vote number 2007-437 on Dec 18, 2007

Voted NO on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
  1. The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
  2. The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
  3. Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Reference: Kerry Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act; Bill S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766 ; vote number 2006-181 on Jun 22, 2006

Voted NO on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.

To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reference: Committee to Investigate War Contracts; Bill S Amdt 2476 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-316 on Nov 10, 2005

Voted YES on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding.

Amendment to express the sense of the Senate on future requests for funding for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A YES vote would:
Reference: Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act; Bill S.AMDT.464 to H.R.1268 ; vote number 2005-96 on Apr 20, 2005

Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Reference: Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002

Voted NO on allowing all necessary force in Kosovo.

Majority Leader Trent Lott motioned to kill the resolution that would have authorized the president to "use all necessary forces and other means," in cooperation with U.S. allies to accomplish objectives in Yugoslavia.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: Motion to table S. J. Res. 20; Bill S. J. Res. 20 ; vote number 1999-98 on May 4, 1999

Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo.

Vote to adopt a resolution to authorize the President to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res 21 ; vote number 1999-57 on Mar 23, 1999

CIA mischaracterized Iraq WMD & abused intelligence position.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC1 on May 8, 2004

Iraq-al-Qaida contacts, but no complicity or assistance.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC10 on May 8, 2004

CIA knew State of the Union Iraq-Niger connection was false.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC3 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was not reconstituting its nuclear program.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC4 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was not developing its biological weapons program.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC5 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was not developing its chemical weapons program.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC6 on May 8, 2004

Iraq was developing missiles, but not to reach the US.

Hagel signed the Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on Iraq

Source: The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimous report on 9/11 04-SIC7 on May 8, 2004

No troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq.

Hagel co-sponsored opposing troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq

Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. BIDEN: This bipartisan resolution opposes the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. This resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, are against: deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence. Just as important, it says what we and many of our colleagues are for: a strategy that can produce a political settlement in Iraq. That's the only way to stop Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other and allow our troops to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind.

Source: Bipartisan Resolution on Iraq (S.CON.RES.2 ) 07-SCR2 on Jan 17, 2007

Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Hagel co-sponsored deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur

Calling for the urgent deployment of a robust and effective multinational peacekeeping mission with sufficient size, resources, leadership, and mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.

Legislative Outcome: Agreed to by Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007

Other candidates on War & Peace: Chuck Hagel on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010