January 6th, 2013
09:19 PM ET

Chuck Hagel's views on war forged by Vietnam experience

By Mike Mount

Badly burned after his armored personnel carrier hit a land mine in Vietnam, Chuck Hagel sat in a medical evacuation helicopter thinking of the horrors he had experienced during combat.

"If I ever get out, if I ever can influence anything, I will do all I can to prevent war," he would later tell his biographer, Charlyne Berens.

It was a seminal moment for the young soldier turned Nebraska senator who sources now say will be nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next secretary of defense.

Should he be nominated to replace current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Hagel would bring to the Pentagon a distinct bias against armed conflict forged during the Vietnam War.

Hegal volunteered to join the Army and ended up serving a yearlong tour in 1968 during the Tet Offensive, considered the most violent period in that war. Because of a clerical error, he served side by side with his younger brother.

He earned two Purple Hearts, one of which was for saving his brother's life. The second Purple Heart was for shrapnel he took in the chest while on patrol with his brother; his brother saved his life by patching up the wound.

After coming home, Hagel worked briefly as a newscaster, then had a career in business, before entering public service as a Republican senator from Nebraska. He served in that role from 1997 to 2009.

Hagel's time in Vietnam forged his thoughts about combat for the rest of his life, earning him a reputation on Capitol Hill as someone with an independent streak that meant he was sometimes at odds with his Republican colleagues.

"Not that I'm a pacifist - I'm a hard-edged realist, I understand the world as it is - but war is a terrible thing. There's no glory, only suffering," he is quoted as saying in his 2006 biography, "Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward."

Hagel opposed the troop surge in Iraq, as did Obama, calling it, "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." He similarly opposed Obama's surge in Afghanistan and called for deep cuts in defense spending.

Those and other positions did not sit well with Hagel's Republican colleagues, and they hurt his chances to move up the ranks to power positions.

Most recently, Hagel has taught at Georgetown University while serving as co-chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

While serving in the Senate, Hagel became close with then-Sen. Obama, and they seemed to find common ground on the use of military force and on Hagel's fairly moderate approach to foreign relations issues. Obama also appreciated Hagel's willingness to buck his own party.

Hagel, Obama and Sen. Jack Reed toured parts of the Middle East, including Iraq, in 2008.

"It was an extraordinary trip," Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, told CNN's Security Clearance. "There was just an exchange of ideas about the region, and I think the president was also impressed with not only (Hagel's) understanding but the questions he raised, not just with the president but with the foreign leaders that we met."

Hagel and Obama also have common ground when it comes to Iran. Both believe in open dialogue with Iran, though Hagel has argued against sanctions, while the president has tightened the screws on Iran with tougher sanctions.

"By refusing to engage Iran, we are perpetuating dangerous geo-political unpredictabilities," Hagel said in a 2007 speech. "Our refusal to recognize Iran's influence does not decrease its influence but rather increases it. Engagement creates dialogue and opportunities to identify common interests, demonstrate America's strengths, as well as make clear disagreements," he said.

In September, Hagel co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post backing the idea of "keeping all options on the table" for stopping Iran's suspected nuclear program.

"Since the consequences of a military attack are so significant for U.S. interests, we seek to ensure that the spectrum of objectives, as well as potential consequences, is understood," it read. The piece did not rule out the possibility of using military force.

For Hagel, getting to the Pentagon would mean overcoming vocal opposition from pro-Israel groups and others who object to his stance on Iran and Hamas. Hagel has opposed efforts to isolate militant groups such as Hamas.

He has also faced opposition from gay-rights groups, strong supporters of Obama's election campaign, for a comment Hagel made in 1998 in which he questioned whether a nominee for an ambassadorship was suitable because he was "openly, aggressively gay." He apologized for that remark in December.

If nominated and confirmed, Hagel would be handed the challenge of closing the final chapter on the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and overseeing the continued footprint of a smaller U.S. training force there.

Hagel has been critical of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. In 2009 he opposed Obama's 30,000-troop surge, telling the National Journal, "I'm not sure we know what the hell we are doing in Afghanistan."

"It's not sustainable at all; I think we're marking time as we slaughter more young people," he said. Later he called for the United States to stop its "nation-building" there.

He would also have to tackle the Pentagon's budget. Hagel has said in the past that be believes the Pentagon's budget is too big.

"The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated," Hagel said in a September 2011 interview with the Financial Times. "So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down."

CNN's Barbara Starr and Dana Ford contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Secretary of Defense
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    October 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  2. Michael Cox

    I am a Vietnam Veteran who also was in the Infantry. My Question is- when is Hagel going to fix the way they award the Bronze Star medal ??? They are awarding more soldiers for Non-combat reasons this medal and are not awarding soldiers this medal who are in combat. The Bronze with V-device is awarded to soldiers that stand out in combat but the Bronze Star Medal by it's self should also be awarded to soldiers who are in the same engagement risking their lives as well. Suggestion--award this medal for { MERITORIOUS COMBAT }.

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  5. 3PH Marine

    If more of the saber rattlers of today had walked point on patrols in VietNam, most of them would be far less likely to advocate war as a solution to differences.

    January 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  6. lcleejr

    voters really have to rid our country of republican politicians that keep dragging our country down. if president obama believes that republican hagel is the best choice as do most voters especially those of us that served our country, then hagel should be the secretary of defense.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  7. JQP1172

    Amazing how Republican's will not support a nominee such as Hagel who HAS put his life on the line in the service of our country BUT they supported Romney who used deferments to opt out of Vietnam and has 5 sons who NONE have served. But I guess when you have a $100M in the bank, wearing our country's uniform is not in the business plan.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
    • dreamer96

      Consider the GOP sources...

      Mitch McConnell was kicked out of the military early ..why is unclear....

      The GOP hardliners backed by Grover...Grover Norquest got his start in the Reagan White House finding funding for the CONTRAS..We now know the CONTRAS were funded by many illegal funds....WMD's sold to Iraq, Weapons and parts sold to Iran and Libya, The CIA even transported and sold illegal drugs to help fund the CONTRAS...some were flown into Arkansas and Reagan used the CIA to protect the drug dealers from the FBI and local law enforcement....So was Grover a front man for illegal funds..using the casinos to wash the money..Then have the owners make large donations...Who donated to fund the CONTRAS, publicly anyway...

      Lindsey Graham who lied about his own Gulf War status, first claimed he saw active fighting ...He never saw action...how many different versions has Lindsey given over the years?....

      How many of the GOP Chicken Hawks are complaining.Non Vets but always talk War..How many have Defense Contractors in their districts....Even the Pentagon does not want some weapon systems..but members of Congress want those contracts...

      Maybe the US Navy should take control over every Nuclear Power Plant in the country that has a history of problems...Maybe the US Marines or Army can provide security..That would be one want to keep our men in the military and assure the public the Nation's Nuclear Reactors are safe and protected...You never see a rusty pipe on a US Navy Nuclear Reactor, but we have rusty water pipes, cracked concrete walls, and concrete containment Domes, and other problems at some of our Nations Nuclear Reactors run by private companies...

      January 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • Tim

      And exactly how long did Obama serve and where?

      January 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Reply
      • JQP1172

        TIM: NOT an equivalent argument. Why you ask? Because Obama unlike MANY Republican's do not advocate war at the drop of a hat. I am convinced (even if in reality we can never know) that had Obama been provided with the same facts post-9/11 about Iraq he would have chosen a different path than Bush did. And considering where we are today, I believe we would be no better or no worse off BUT repeat BUT without the blood of American military on his hands and billions upon billions spent. That is the difference, that is why your argument holds no water.

        In other words, it seems those who have never served nor have their loved ones served (ie: children) are the loudest PRO-War advocates. Chew on that one for ahwile.

        January 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
      • Greybeard

        If the argument is that Hagel is more qualified to be SecDef because of his Viet Nam service, he sure made hash of it yesterday. Stand by your principles, Senator. Be proud of the fact that you were wrong.
        And take your lumps.

        February 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  8. UnFred

    Does CNN have any of it's own writers or does the white house do all the writing?

    January 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET


      January 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
      • Observer

        Easy there, big fella. Drink some more Agent Orange.

        January 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • Rob Carter

        NB: I suggest they both will and Isn't it great as this good read Washington Post suggests, this mix an anti-Vietnam War Veteran, a Democrat Senator head of Foreign Affairs Committee in the Senate and a Vietnam Veteran a Republican Senator member of that committee who supported aims of the VN War. Just shows how astute the USA Voting public really were in choosing Obama of such wisdom to choose his Foreign Secretary and Defence secretary in such a way they have opposing views of equal experience and wisdom to debate to the end rather than declare war to end the debate.

        January 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  9. UnFred

    Propaganda.... This article doesn't say he's an expert in cell phone technology and his company made millions in it. Why would you replace a general with a senator with limited intelligence experience? Hell.., I need a job, maybe Obama could hire me to do something I have no experience doing.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Dreamer96

      Like Michele Bachmann on the House Intelligence Committee....People in Power with no experience is common in Washington DC....Bachmann supports the Intelligent Design dumbing down or all of America's Public school children...

      January 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  10. Loopman

    Being a VN vet myself, I can proudly proclaim my disdain for war as well. No one and I mean NOONE wins in a war except for the rich folks that own the factories that provide ammunition and provisions to those fighting the war. That's why the conservatives are so willing to jump into war with both feet. That way their buddies, the rich, get richer and they do too by supporting the war. It's been that way in this country for almost 200 years and it won't change until we finally decide to change our style of government. The current two party system allows those 2 sides to have too much power. We need more choices. More choices would force the candidates to think harder about the consequences of their choices. Today, they are so much alike if you put them all in a bag and shook it up you wouldn't recognize who comes out first when you dump it.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • v_mag

      I was in during Nam, but I got sent to Germany instead. However, I worked a year and a half at Valley Forge General Hospital during some of the worst fighting, and seeing all those broken men and women who made it back left a mark on me.

      There are precious few "good wars" in history, and the last one was WWII, which we absolutely had to fight. Otherwise, our wars have only served to destroy lives and enrich the fat cats, none of whose children come back in a casket or a basket.

      January 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • Dreamer96

      Reagan the God of the current GOP sold Diluted Agent Orange, in the form of Roundup, to Saddam and Dick Cheney helped deliver it, and Reagan worked with Monsanto to deny the Vietnam Vets any claims over exposure...And Mitt Romney's first job was working for Monsanto to help them cleanup their companies image after getting caught dumping known cancer causing PCP's in the rivers and water ways around the Great Lakes,...Monsanto fought off many claims of exposure to Agent Orange and to Diluted Agent Orange called today Roundup...And that is just one of the evils of the Vietnam War...many others..like Nixon using the CIA to transport and sell illegal drugs to make the South Vietnam President rich...a Nixon secret payment to the President of South Vietnam after agreeing to withdraw from the 1968 Paris Peace Talks..Nixon helped drag out the Vietnam War...

      January 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET


      January 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
      • Inglourious

        Exactly which war was it that cost 2 million American lives? The answer to that is none. WW II did not even come close to 2M. The deadliest war in American history, the Civil War, does not even come close either.

        Incoherent shouting does not make for a convincing argument.

        January 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Capt. Nemo

        No, Viet Nam was not JFK's fault: America's involvement in VN was a non-partisan screwup that bit the US for decades.

        In the late 1940s, Truman wanted the French on board with US efforts to create the UN, NATO, and the IMF. The French blackmailed the US: give us back our colony of IndoChina (Viet Nam) or else we won't support your diplomatic efforts. Truman caved.

        Under Eisenhower, the US provided 80% of the French military materiel in VN and funding, too.

        JFK followed the existing US policy in VN, including putting troops in Laos in the early 60s to stabilize that country and push the VN out. That didn't work, the government of South VN was increasingly exposed as corrupt and unpopular, and it became clear that no amount of US advisors could create a South VN army (ARVN) that would stand up (especially since the officer corps was completely political, promoted for their support of the corrupt government not for their expertise). Kennedy made plans to have all US troops out of VN, but got killed before he could do it.

        LBJ was politically trapped in a war he knew he couldn't win (MacNamara admitted to conversations with LBJ in 64/65 where they both stated the war was unwinnable) but that he couldn't avoid because he would have been politically destroyed. The GOP would have crucified a Democratic president for losing another country to the Communists just as the GOP vilified the Democrats for "losing" China in 1949. By the end of LBJ's term, the war was going badly for the US (despite the rosy lies from MACV/Westmoreland) and LBJ quit knowing he would be voted out of office.

        Nixon escalated the war in secret (illegal bombings of Cambodia, Laos, etc) while cynically claiming a secret plan to end the war. Popular opposition the war and increasing displeasure in the Congress (in part because the expense of the war was screwing up the economy) forced budget cuts for the war effort and the "Vietnamization" policy where the US supported the ARVN with air and fire support but US troops weren't doing the fighting.

        Kissinger forced a peace treaty on the South VN government in 1973, US funding fell off a cliff, and by 1975 it was all over as far as direct US involvement.

        So, don't oversimplify and blame the US involvement in VN on any one president: it took 5 presidential administrations of both parties and almost 30 years to get into and out of that mess.

        January 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  11. On StreetWise

    Will the GOP "Swiftboat" Chuck Hagel next... seems their own party prefers war and the military industrial complex far more than our country's interests. New saying in the Neo-Cons; "Purple Heats don't matter"... just ask Sen. John Kerry.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  12. ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

    After a lot of "hageling" in the Senate, he will be confirmed.

    January 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
    • Larry Spence

      This piece is typical of late. Really bad research and fraught with errors., like:

      "He earned two Purple Hearts, one of which was for saving his brother's life. The second Purple Heart was for shrapnel he took in the chest while on patrol with his brother; his brother saved his life by patching up the wound."

      Nice story, but how is it possible that CNN does NOT KNOW the criteria for the Purple Heart?
      One could not be "for saving his brother's life". The award is for wounds received in action. Nothing. Else. Not for valor, as implied here, just for wounds or death in combat. In fact one could be running away, and be shot and get a PH.

      Perhaps it should read 'while" savings brother's Life. (Dana and Barbara, I'm talking to YOU> Professional writers? Journalists? Sometimes I wonder...)

      January 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply
      • Dreamer96

        Where is Dick Cheney's Purple Heart?

        January 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
      • Doc1

        You obviously have no clue of the significance of a purple heart.

        January 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • NAM VET


        January 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • NAM VET


        January 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • Capt. Nemo

        Like him or not, Kerry is a true war hero. It wasn't until Karl Rove desperately needed to hide G. W. Bush's record of draft dodging and going AWOL that anyone attacked Kerry's medals. As prep for his presidential run, Kerry requested that the US Navy re-investigate his medals. The Navy found no irregularities in how the medals were awarded.

        It is also important to note that Kerry volunteered to go the Viet Nam, and, after receiving a nice, safe job volunteered to join the river campaign in the now-famous "swiftboats". It is also important to note that one of the men behind the smearing of Kerry ("Swiftboating) was involved in the events for which Kerry was awarded a medal and signed off on the initial reports. Was he lying in 1969 or was he lying in 2004?

        Kerry and his fellow commanders revamped the tactics used on the rivers (in part to minimize civilian casualties) and repeatedly went into harm's way. Read his citations (in the next replies) and ask yourself if you'd be that brave.

        January 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • Capt. Nemo

        John Kerry's Bronze Star Citation

        For heroic achievement while serving with Coastal Division ELEVEN engage in armed conflict with Viet Cong communist aggressors in An Xuyen Province, Republic of Vietnam on 13 March, 1969. Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY was serving as Officer-in-Charge of Inshore Patrol Craft 94, one of five boats conducting a SEA LORDS operation in the Bay Hap River. While exiting the River, a mine detonated under another Inshore Patrol Craft and almost simultaneously, another mine detonated close aboard his Inshore Patrol Craft knocking a man into the water and wounding Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY in the right arm. In addition, all units began receiving small arms and automatic weapons fire from the river banks. When Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY discovered he had a man overboard, he returned upriver to assist [ed. note: back into the ambush target area]. The man in the water was receiving sniper fire from both banks. Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry directed his gunners to provide suppressing fire, while from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding and in pain and with disregard for his personal safety, he pulled the man aboard. Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY then directed his boat to return and assist the other damaged Inshore Patrol Craft. His crew attached a line and towed the damaged boat to safety. Lieutenant (junior grade) KERRY's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

        January 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • Capt. Nemo

        Follow this link to see Kerry's Silver Star citation (remove the spaces); for some reason this blog won't post it. In short, his boat was ambushed from the shore and Kerry attacked the ambush, beached his boat, and charged inland with his men.

        en. wikisource.org/ wiki/ Silver_Star_Citation_-_John_Kerry

        January 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  13. Dreamer96

    Dick Cheney took 5 deferments to avoid the draft and fight in Vietnam...but helped Reagan supply those WMD's to Saddam in Iraq....Newt Gingrich took many deferments, and was in the Pentagon just days after the 911 attack helping to plan both wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, Mitt Romney took 3 deferments..Wanted to start two new wars bombing Iran, sending US troops into Syria and facing Russian Troops at their Sub base..and then cut Veteran's benefits..

    Now the GOP say they are going to object to Hagel...A real front line Vietnam Vet..Decorated for bravery...Well remember Dick Cheney will not travel outside the USA without a military force with him...He might get arrested by the International Court for War Crimes....Water boarding is listed as a war crime...They should have gotten the terrorist drunk or stoned and interviewed them....a method that gets better information and has been used for 100's of years, and leaves no broken bones....

    Seems like Chuck Hagel is a far better choice for Secretary of Defense then the GOP have had in Decades....They just know he will not be a Grover Norquest Pro-Tea Party Puppet ...

    January 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET


      January 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  14. Jerry

    Another "Bender Forward" for the Clueless One's administration. He is anti Israel, anti gay. What else is he anti?!

    I am not a Republican, but I hope they kick Obamalooneys and Hagel's stinking butts.

    January 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • Ferathka

      It's amazing. If Obama nominiated Jesus Christ for a cabinet position the Repubs would cry fowl. They don't like Obama plain and simple. To them he can do no right. It's ok GOP we are watching....2014 comes pretty quick.

      January 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Reply
      • Deserttrek

        not a republican and i don't like obama. he is an anti feedom piece of excrement. no sane person should support such evil

        January 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • Last of the Jedi

        He wouldn't nominate him.Muslims don't believe in Jesus.

        January 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • lolo

      Have you been to war? Also you are a poor excuse for an American Citizen. War is not something to take lightly and if you did go to war you should understand the havoc it causes for everyone. Everything does not have to be settled by starting a war.The republicans are just eating their own because anyone who does not bow to their outdated demands are not worthy of anything to them.

      January 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Star-Spangled Bullsh!t

      He is not anti-Israel, he's pro-America. But that one sails far over your head, doesn't it, simpleton?

      January 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  15. Union Cavalry

    At the least, Hagel is a veteran who served his country and in Vietnam at that. How
    many senators can claim the same? And compared to John Kerry, the traitor to all veterans,
    Hagel is a saint. He may not be popular with all groups, but he deserves a chance at the job.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Dreamer96

      Hagel Anti-Israel.. How do you measure that?

      You should know Mitt Romney was willing to attack Iran...Over a dozen sites buried deep.....Who called for a new Israeli Parliament ...maybe because the top Israel generals are against attacking Iran....and many in the Parliament are too....Finding a different solution would be better....Attacking Iran would unite the Iranian people behind a government most of the population does not even like....Saudi Arabia has more to fear from a nuclear armed Iran then Israel does...

      The GOP have proven they are willing to jump into any war, anywhere, Anytime, with little thought on how to win the war.....

      We lost the people of Iraq..when we disbanded over 250,000 Iraqi troops and sent them home, without a job, no money..and they raided the Iraqi military depots, blew up the oil wells, the oil pipelines, raided the power stations and water pumping stations for copper and then raided the cities for food and supplies and just days after being disbanded started making IED's and killing our troops....

      Was this Newt Gingrich's plan....A history Professor that forgot what General Patton did in Germany after the wars..Patton used the Nazis to run the trains, the power stations, the water pumping stations, maintain and repair the phones the infrastructure and restore the services to the general population...Why because Patton knew he had no one less trained to do those jobs...and he needed to restore some kind of normal life as soon as possible after the terrible damage was done to Germany....The GOP can declare war...but fail at wining the wars....

      January 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
      • Dreamer96

        Ops "Why because Patton knew he had no one less trained to do those jobs..", sorry for the typo's Half blind I guess....meant to say

        "Why because Patton knew he had no one else trained to do those jobs...",...Patton used the Nazi's till he had trained people to replace them...We should have given the Iraqi troops light weapons and used them to guard the Oil wells and pipelines....and used them to restore order to the cities, hand out food, clean up the roads and cities...but we just sent them home and brought in Civilian contractors, spent billions for what.. Many of the new buildings were blown up by the old Iraqi troops..Wasted money and effort....

        By the way the reason the Iraqi had to ask Iran for help restoring the power grid, Iran ran a high power line into Iraq, is because we tried to change the Iraqi electrical system to a US style, to sell our system to them, and not restore it to a European and Iranian style electrical system....

        Iraq had electrical power shortages for 10 years after the war, unlike in Libya where the lights never really went off and they had fresh drinking water....far less damage to their infrastructure...

        January 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  16. cm1js

    All the vets who are against Hagel are no doubt officers. I can hear them saying, how dare obama bring in an enlisted man to preside over generals?

    January 7, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
    • Remove Joe Buck from Announcing NFL Committee Chairman

      Ah, one-sided = short sighted. I served in both capacities and support Hagel's nomination. First, we need to remove the larger forces and gigantic support structure from Afghanistan. Stop trying to build nations as we see them. Second, end the frivolous amount of middle men billing the defense department for their storefront. Third, cut the grossly huge amount of generals. The Corps alone has about 60 more than World War II. There are too many. This is why the one in charge in Afghanistan has time to send 20,000 emails to his girlfriend.

      January 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  17. ron K.

    I see that one of Chuck Hagel's biggest critics is Lindsey Graham. Lindsey Graham is known to have claimed that he is a"Gulf war vet". HOwever, Lindsey never served in the Gulf, he remained in the States. Then Lindsey backtracks and says that he meant that he was an Gulf war- era vet. How in the heck can a man like Lindsey Graham even dare criticize Chuck Hagel?
    Finally, my recently deceased father-in law served on the front lines in the Phillipines during WWII. He hated the notion of going to war. And he almost had a fit when we invaded Iraq the second time – not the first. I think war veterans have the best perspective upon war – not the neocons and their ilk.
    I sure hope these cowardly senators who oppose Hagel get a good dose of shame because they are shameless.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • PushingBack

      I couldn't agree more! We need to have someone in this position that has a conscience forged by the fire of combat!

      January 7, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
    • MrRickinNH

      Lindsay Graham is a chicken hawk who is fast becoming the spokesman of the dark side! One of Hagel's redeeming virtues is his recognition of an already bloated pentagon budget! Wonder who Lindsay will get to fill his campaign coffers once his defense contractors are cut!!

      January 7, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
  18. Arthur

    it s a shame white folks of today s generation are going to be the downfall of the USA.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • HUH?

      No it's people like who try and make everything about a person's race will be the "downfall of the USA"

      January 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  19. John

    Hagel put his time in voluntarily in the Army, unlike LImbaugh, Giuliani, Bush and Romney who all "skipped out" but now sound like real patriots with their calls for our young to be brave and fight terrorism.....I trust the guy who has been there, not the coward who talks as if he was.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • PushingBack


      January 7, 2013 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • lolo

      I agree with you all the way.

      January 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • David

      Well said!! Hope he get's the assignment.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  20. Michelle - Beirut

    CHRISTIANS are in danger in the MEA because of Israel and the New Islamic Revolution backed by the Americans. PLEASE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, HAVE SOME MERCY AND SAVE THE CHRISTIANS.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply
  21. Carlson

    I'm all for Chuck Hagel because he's not a another brainless Tea Partying dimwit trying to serve the corrupt establishment. Anyone who can't be brainwashed like Chuck Hagel is alright as far as I'm concerned.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
  22. Joi Gibson

    The only two reasons Republicans oppose Chuck Hagel is because the President nominated him and because Hagel does not tow the party line war mongers. Should not the President be allowed to pick his cabinet members with whom he has to work and be comfortable with? Is that so anethema now? This opposition from Republicans on all things President Obama is tiresome and childish. They seem rather eager to fight the President over this kind of foolishness rather than try to tackle the nation's problems.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
    • PushingBack

      Agreed – I'm over it and think Obama should push very hard from now on – no more giving in on the simple and reasonable things just because they want to block him!

      January 7, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • On StreetWise

      the GOP is terminal...

      January 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  23. 111Dave111

    I think Obama could go back in time and nominate Ronald Reagan, and these people would object, just to object.

    The Objectionist Party

    January 7, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  24. inmywords20

    Hagal thinks of America first, so as far as the people are concerned, he is an American hero....and I am a white male living in northwest Florida a Republican stronghold.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
    • Bugl3t

      Well said. I agree. Chuck Hagel is a man of principles and any DECENT person SHOULD be against war. It is the last resort. Thanks for putting America FIRST.

      January 7, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
  25. bks

    Republican party does not like people expressing their own thoughts. That is the reason why Hagel is not liked by its own party. Unless one has independent thinking , either democrat or republican, the party is not going to excel. If Hagel has told the truth about Iran-Israel then republican party should think and not start blasting him.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:16 am | Reply
  26. v_mag

    A lot of people have an idealized view of Israel, fueled by religious dogma. If you take the blinders off, you can see that Israel is a nuclear-armed rogue state in the Middle East that has oppressed its Arab population, pushed settlements into Palestinian territories, embargoed the poor people of Gaza, and spied on the U.S., all while receiving billions a year in American taxpayer money. I don't see why we consider them an ally, except for some lunatic evangelical ideas about apocalypse.

    January 7, 2013 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • Michelle - Beirut

      Christians are in danger in the MEA because of Israel and the New Islamic Revolution backed by the Americans. PLEASE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, HAVE SOME MERCY AND SAVE THE CHRISIANS

      January 7, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
    • Michelle - Beirut

      Christians are in danger in the MEA because of Israel and the New Islamic Revolution backed by the Americans. PLEASE, FOR GOD'S SAKE, HAVE SOME MERCY AND SAVE THE CHRISTIANS

      January 7, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • jack

      I am very surprised that you are so concerned about the American taxpayer's money. Please allow me to enlighten you about where the wasted money goes. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, and the United Nations, to name just a few places. You have a distorted view of the aid that Israel gets. The money that Israel gets is spent in the United States, keeping American people employed. Do yourself a favor before you express your vile opinion about Israel, re-educate yourself.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:36 am | Reply
      • v_mag

        American taxpayer money does go to Israel, and we have armed them to the teeth. The money is a small aspect of our distorted relationship with Israel, and you don't address the fact that American foreign policy has been heavily weighted in Israel's favor for 60 years. Our support, and at times subservience to Israel is the chief reason that Muslim countries hate us. And the chief reason America supports Israel blindly is the powerful AIPAC and religious extremism in this country. You are the one in need of education, and blinder-removal.

        January 7, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  27. liam

    LOL, GOP....You are outraged and rejecting your own guy?!?!?!!?! LOL

    January 7, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
  28. Dick Gozinyia

    Typical hack

    January 7, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
  29. gladiatorgrl

    "Not that I'm a pacifist, I'm a hard-edged realist, I understand the world as it is, but war is a terrible thing. There's no glory, only suffering," he is quoted in his 2006 biography.

    WOW someone who gets it.

    January 7, 2013 at 9:20 am | Reply
    • PushingBack

      I know, right?

      January 7, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
  30. Pete

    It's funny how I said the same thing last night commenting about how republicans the old,white,racist who are also war mongers but never served are going against a medaled hero as Hagel..They back McCain the Saigon Songbird that was treasonistic against American military in the Vietnam war to save his hide but rail against a man that truely sees war for what it is ,useless mass murder nothing more..He was against Reagans backing of Hussein in the Iraq,Iran war with Reagan selling chemical weapons to use against innocent civilians and was against Russias involvement in Afghanistan that also saw meanless mass murders that generated nothing but death...Republicans should listen to Hagel,he's been there and doesn't want it happening again,at least in his lifetime!!Pres.Obama, Hagel is your man that can help America as you become a viable peaceful allie worldwide again!!

    January 7, 2013 at 9:03 am | Reply

    Bottom line, Obama has found himself a longtime RINO to help him dismantle the military. This way, when the smoke clears and the bodies are buried, he can say his naive mistake was a "bipartisan effort". It also leaves him the option of throwing someone else under the bus (again) to take the fall for HIS incompetence (again) should he feel the need. As an added bonus, that person will be a Republican (by name, anyway). Goody-goody, this term is shaping up to be FUN, isn't it? I wonder when we'll see a competent legitimate President again. Lord knows the last two have been disasters.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:56 am | Reply
  32. Mark

    Pakistan is loaded with nukes and hostile terrorists who are already AT WAR with the USA....why are they not considered a "threat" worthy of envelopment and invasion?

    January 7, 2013 at 8:38 am | Reply
  33. Paul

    Brilliant choice by Obama, however I believe that the Israeli's will veto the nomination of this intelligent and humble man.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:33 am | Reply
    • Mike

      He is a great candidate and its a national disgrace that the Israeli Lobby (more powerful than the NRA) will decide the issue for Americns.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
  34. George Patton

    It's good to see a man like Chuck Hagel who has been wised up by the war in Vietnam. This is why most of those right-wing idiots in Washington resent him so. He's showing all these right-wing fanatics up for the very dimwits that they are!!!

    January 7, 2013 at 8:31 am | Reply

      Poor naive child. People don't dislike him for this position because he hates war or refuses to toe the line. People (from both sides of the aisle) dislike him for this position because he's wrong all the time! He doesn't make good, intelligent, educated choices. Never has. The fact that (as mentioned in this article) both Bush and Obama (polar opposites) chose to employ troop surges, Hagel opposed them, and they both accomplished exactly what the sitting Commander-in-Chief wasted to accomplish (i.e., it worked both times), should on it's own at least clue you in to that possibility!

      January 7, 2013 at 9:05 am | Reply
      • Portland tony

        Well winning the battle is one thing...Losing the war is another! Believe me the "surges" didn't win diddly. It only made the commanders on the ground look good!

        January 7, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Capt. Nemo

        Actually, the troop surge in Iraq came after the sectarian killing in Iraq was mostly over and the struggle there was winding down and after the US changed tactics and started directly targeting individual "extremists". There is a lot of opinion in the military that the surge was just PR: too little, too late, and with almost no effect on the overall outcome. Bush's justification for the 2007 surge was a "unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror." Do you think that's what we got?

        As to the surge in Afghanistan, anyone who thinks were "winning" there, surge or not, is completely deluded. The Taliban and the rest of the extremists merely await the inevitable US withdrawal (inevitable since the day we went in), after which Afghanistan will have more "years of the warlord" just like after the Russians withdrew.

        January 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  35. mia

    Conservatives' response to this is about as silly as Mitch McConnell's filibuster of HIS OWN BILL a few weeks back.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:15 am | Reply
  36. ll

    So, let me get this.......Republicans are all upset that Obama is nominating...a Republican.

    Not kidding – the Republican party has gone beyond looking ridiculous.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:13 am | Reply
  37. Sean Doyle

    A genuine hero and American firster. Good luck Chuck, and well done Obama.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:13 am | Reply
  38. Lifes short

    Finally a man with some common sense. Of course yet another WAR for the GOP. How man fronts can these bone heads possibly fight?

    January 7, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply
  39. Michael

    America bought the Bush/Cheney Scam – hook, line, and sinker. Those folk lined up – Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz to provide you the mushroom cloud story. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed, millions displaced, trillions spent/borrowed. When Bush said "he wants justice" – I could not agree more.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:04 am | Reply
    • Scot Dence

      You hit the nail on the head with that statement. I couldn't agree more.

      January 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  40. PLyons

    Love this guy-

    January 7, 2013 at 7:56 am | Reply
  41. Chris

    Far too many Republicans have never seen war up close and personal, much less seen a war that was a losing cause from the beginning, and of no consequence for U. S. national security. These Republicans are far too fast and loose with the lives of many young men and women that have had little choice in their future careers but to go into the military.

    Neither Iraq nor Afganistan have been worth the cost in American lives or even dollars that these wars have cost America. These countries have fought both internally and externally for 2,000 years, and nothing G. Bush, B . Obama, or the U. S. Congress can do will stop them from continuing to fight for another 2,000 years. We should get out TOMORROW; it's not worth another American life or limb.

    This nomination of a guy who has actually experienced war at its worst is a brilliant move by Obama. Chuck will not only end this war quicker, but will keep us out of the future wars the Republican-military industrial complex seeks to get us into to keep the arms selling.

    America no longer can be the world's policeman. We need to heal the wounds here at home, and again become a great nation. Our political system is badly broken, and the focus needs to be here, not 7,000 miles away on a hilltop with U. S. troops guarding poppy fields that will produce heroin that will go straight to America. Get out tomorrow!

    January 7, 2013 at 7:36 am | Reply
    • Scott

      Vietnam was a Democrats war. JFK and LBJ really exploded it.

      January 7, 2013 at 7:51 am | Reply
      • Lifes short

        What about Nixon? I can't wait untill your party is finished off.

        January 7, 2013 at 8:16 am |
      • Bugl3t

        Not all Democrats think alike; true also of Republicans, clearly. Kennedy was killed because he wanted to end Vietnam. LBJ was just a stooge for the military industrial complex and the corporations that control them.

        "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
        ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower (another Republican)

        "What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party."
        ~ Henry David Thoreau

        January 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Vet

      Chris, You are 100% right, it's about time we have a Secretary of Defense who has been there and knows the horrors of combat first hand.....

      January 7, 2013 at 8:04 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      I agree! It is time for us, the USA, to drastically trim the list of our supposed "friends and allies"!
      Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Israel are "back stabbers"! What do any of these really contribute to establishing peace in the world? Simple answer, nothing! These four, and others, perpetuate violence and killing just to keep bringing in the dollars! Dollars we sorely need at home to rebuild our own country.

      January 7, 2013 at 8:11 am | Reply
  42. bo lies

    Loose lipped and dumb. Perfect for this administration.

    January 7, 2013 at 7:32 am | Reply
    • Bugl3t

      Wow, you racists just can't help yourself, can you?

      January 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • lolo

      Just like you and the rest of the GOP/TP KKK Klan.

      January 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  43. babooph

    Republicans like the Little Bush sneaky cowardly types,or the draft dodger Cheney types,NOT the purple heart guys...

    January 7, 2013 at 7:24 am | Reply
    • Juan in Texas

      What about McCain? War hero and GOPer!

      January 7, 2013 at 7:53 am | Reply
      • Ordinary71

        McCain is a great guy and who endured many years of suffering. I actually voted for him for president. However, there is a difference as big as sky and earth between what a jet plane pilot goes through and what the "boots" and the "grunts" have to go through. A lot of damage can be done from the air, but for any war to have a lasting effect, there has to be boots on the ground, and that is where the bulk of casulty and suffering come from.

        January 7, 2013 at 8:09 am |
      • StanCalif

        McCain is a decent man and truly cares about our country. However, he screwed up "big time" when he introduced Sarah Palin into national politics. Palin successfully helped the Tea Party infest our government. Although these TP voters meant well, they were deceived into electing spineless people who were immediately coached into becoming traitors to our nation! Where is Palin now? John McCain is still around, but I don't hear him preaching the TP agenda!

        January 7, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • UnFred

      Well Clinton was a draft dodger and McCain was military. I think they put people in place that will go along with what they want. Both parties are SO Corrupt it doesn't really matter whether it's democrats or republicans in office we still keep going in the same direction. Obama is worse than Bush, something I thought I would Never say, and they literally seem to be the same guy.

      January 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  44. jnpa

    He sounds pretty good to me! Of course the GOP won't want him....he called the DOD "bloated."

    January 7, 2013 at 7:09 am | Reply
  45. mcp123

    Of course republicans don't like him.... he doesn't subscribe to their vision of war ...and war profiteering without end.

    January 7, 2013 at 7:04 am | Reply
    • America mind your own business

      O,bama has the power to pull the troops out and call it quits but he too must like being there.

      January 7, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
      • John in Colorado

        The President has to walk a fine line between getting us out, which he is doing, and not doing so too fast causing the Karsai government to collapse perhaps leading to total chaos; a vacuum that would be quickly filled by the Taliban. Also, we have to take some care to honor the sacrifices of our own dead and those of that country; both civilian and military. One way to do that is to try to effect some kind of stability there between the warring factions; less those who have died would have done so in vain. But we should never get ourselves in these messes again just to feed our Defense industry. An often unrealized cost is that these two wars were financed off the books with staggering debt upon which this nation and our children and grandchildren will pay interest for many, many years. Henceforth, if we ever get involved in sustained military ventures we should have to tax the American people for the ongoing cost. That will spur a real debate on whether the vital interests of the USA are really at stake. The blood of our young doesn't appear to do so.

        January 7, 2013 at 8:24 am |
      • StanCalif

        To John in Colorado:
        Karsai is no "friend" of the US! He does nothing (with the dollars we give him) to improve the lives of his own people! All he cares about is protecting his opium trading family. The Taliban will eventually rule again, there is nothing we can do to prevent this! Only the Taliban know how to rule Afghanistan, and Karsai will be eliminated in round one!

        January 7, 2013 at 8:38 am |
      • TRH

        I agree that we shouldn't have been there one day after Bin Laden was dead. But the logistics of moving that many people WITHOUT increasing their risk exposure is not a fast process. It's not worth American lives to pull out as fast as possible. Better to do it right, and as safely and securely as possible.

        January 7, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • Bugl3t

        Don't be ridiculous. We should NEVER have been in either Afghanistan or Iraq, since the 9/11 terrorists were UAR, all of them. We should have done what Obama did from the very first - hunt Bin Laden down and eliminate him with no fanfare and no public burial. That man was a coward; Like many of the wealthy, he had no problem taking advantage of poverty and despair by sending off the sons (and daughters) of the poor...

        "Someone somewhere had another plan, now he's got a rifle in his hand... rolling into Baghdad wondering how it got this far... Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man's war."
        ~ Stephen Fain Earle

        January 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • JDArkansas

        None of the 9/11 hijackers were from UAE, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. Most of them were Saudis. The rest were from Yemen. However, W called Saudi Arabia "the IDEAL of what a Muslim country should be" (i.e. a theocratic dictatorship like what he wanted for the US), so going after the heart of Al Qaida was not considered. The Bin Laden family was smuggled out of the US when the rest of US airspace was locked down after 9/11. W was more concerned about killing Saddam than getting Bin Laden, so he sent the bulk of the troops to Iraq and let Al Qaida and the Taliban (also a theocratic dictatorship) escape to Pakistan where they are today. We need a Secretary of Defence that is not in bed with the Saudis or Israel and who truly wants to prevent war. Hagel seems to be that.

        January 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  46. Tom

    What a refreshing appointment. A Repulican (like me) who can think outside the box. Good Luck Chuck.

    January 7, 2013 at 6:59 am | Reply
  47. Arias

    Most qualified man for the job. Hopefully he has the votes to overcome the Israeli Lobby.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:39 am | Reply
  48. Hulot

    As long as he is not a lackey to special interest groups especially Israel lobby, he’s my man.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:52 am | Reply
  49. Matt

    Obama has a lot more national security cred than in 2009 when Gates stayed on, but it is not a bad thing for a President that has not served in the military (rare in America) to have a Vietnam veteran as Secretary of Defense. It is not a bad thing for the returning veterans and the challenges that the DOD will face to have a veteran that understands the challenges. He is not soft and the fact are from Bush to Obama and his two terms national security all the issues Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran etc have remained with a common strategy. Another example of this continuity is the US Marines in Darwin proposed under Bush and announced by Obama same with the pivot. People are making dramas out of non issues.

    January 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  50. massoud

    Best of luck to Chuck, Time to put America FIRST !

    January 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Reply

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