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.

Post by:
Filed under: Secretary of Defense
soundoff (804 Responses)
  1. Digital Agencies

    http://peterblum.com/releasenotes.aspx?returnurl=http://masternearme.com

    June 30, 2021 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  2. Sprinter Van Roof Repair

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thank you!

    https://www.stapleheadquarters.com/cartform.aspx?returnurl=https://www.fleetservicesorangecounty.com

    June 30, 2021 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  3. Red Van Repair

    You are so awesome! I do not suppose I have read through something like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with some genuine thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

    https://www.aanorthflorida.org/es/redirect.asp?url=https://sprintervanrepair.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 8:55 am | Reply
  4. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    You've made some really good points there. I looked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.

    https://www.secure-res.com/rdx.asp?goto=http://fleetautorepairshop.com/&orig=GOOsbh

    June 30, 2021 at 7:36 am | Reply
  5. Dodge Van Repair

    http://flogiston.ru/stat/click.php?http://www.commercialrepairshop.com/

    June 30, 2021 at 5:45 am | Reply
  6. Sprinter Van Repair Los Angeles

    http://coolbuddy.com/newlinks/framelink.asp?add=https://boxtruckrepairshop.com

    June 30, 2021 at 3:50 am | Reply
  7. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    I was able to find good advice from your blog articles.

    http://www.roughlittletongues.com/cgi-bin/at3/out.cgi?id=34&tag=toptop&trade=http://ocrvmotorsports.info/

    June 30, 2021 at 1:58 am | Reply
  8. RV Repairs Near My Location

    Excellent post! We are linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    http://www.glamourcon.com/links/to.mv?https://www.ocrvmotorsports.net/

    June 30, 2021 at 12:19 am | Reply
  9. Release Clip Repair On Mercedes Sprinter Seat

    Very good blog post. I definitely love this website. Keep writing!

    http://msichat.de/redir.php?url=https://www.campervanrepairshop.com

    June 29, 2021 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  10. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write more on this subject, it might not be a taboo subject but typically folks don't speak about these topics. To the next! All the best!!

    http://goldankauf-engelskirchen.de/out.php?link=http://ocrv.me/

    June 29, 2021 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  11. Conversion Van Repair

    http://www.artisansduchangement.tv/blog/plugins/translator/translator.php?l=is&u=https://www.ocrvfleetservices.com

    June 29, 2021 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  12. Nearby RV Repairs

    http://page.yicha.cn/tp/j.y?detail&url=https://theocrv.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  13. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    Right here is the perfect blog for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been discussed for years. Great stuff, just excellent!

    http://salinc.ru/redirect.php?url=https://ocrvempire.com

    June 29, 2021 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  14. Camper Repair Near Me

    Everything is very open with a really clear description of the issues. It was really informative. Your website is very useful. Thank you for sharing!

    https://www.rechnungswesen-portal.de/bitrix/redirect.php?event1=KD37107&event2=https2F/www.universal-music.de288025-10025)+(m/w/d)&goto=https://www.ocrvcenter.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  15. Sprinter Van Repair

    There is certainly a great deal to know about this issue. I love all the points you made.

    http://yellowpages.examiner.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 29, 2021 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  16. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    You're so cool! I do not believe I've read through something like this before. So nice to find another person with original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!

    https://publishing.brookes.ac.uk/?URL=ocrvcenter.com

    June 29, 2021 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  17. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    https://codersclub.org/uchome/link.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  18. Conversion Shop

    After I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

    http://blog.jobtiger.bg/?wptouch_switch=mobile&redirect=http://ocrv.pro/

    June 29, 2021 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  19. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    Your style is so unique compared to other people I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog.

    http://wwx.tw/debug/frm-s/www.ocrv.rocks/

    June 29, 2021 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  20. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    May I simply say what a comfort to uncover somebody who actually knows what they're discussing on the internet. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to look at this and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you're not more popular because you surely possess the gift.

    https://aurora.network/redirect?url=https://www.ocrvcenter.info/

    June 29, 2021 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  21. E 150 Van Power Window Repair

    http://page.yicha.cn/tp/j?url=https://www.customcampervans.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 11:22 am | Reply
  22. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Panels

    https://severgazbank.ru/bitrix/rk.php?goto=http://ocrv.rocks/

    June 29, 2021 at 7:59 am | Reply
  23. 2006 Dodge Sprinter 2500 Heater Control Repair

    http://e4u.ybmnet.co.kr/YBMSisacom.asp?SiteURL=ocrv.today

    June 29, 2021 at 6:42 am | Reply
  24. Repair Cost On Mercedes Sprinter Van

    I was very pleased to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to check out new stuff on your site.

    https://ticketbox.vn/lang/en?redirectUrl=http://ocrvpaintandservice.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 4:54 am | Reply
  25. 2006 Sprinter Climate Control Repair

    http://moe.gov.np/site/language/swaplang/1/?redirect=http://www.ocrvcenter.biz

    June 29, 2021 at 3:02 am | Reply
  26. RV Repair Nearby

    http://local.kristv.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.mobi

    June 29, 2021 at 1:06 am | Reply
  27. Nearby RV Repairs

    Very good article. I certainly appreciate this site. Keep writing!

    https://www.giuntina.it/urlverify.asp?Destrl=http://www.rvmarketingexperts.com&Mail=FrancoLevi@Tiscali.it&a=2&b=7&c=12&d=FACEBOOK

    June 28, 2021 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  28. Mercedes Benz Dealer Service Sprinter Near Me 91605

    http://hirlevelcenter.eu/click.php?hirlevel_id=13145441085508&url=http://ocrvcenter.org

    June 28, 2021 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  29. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    Wonderful article! We are linking to this particularly great article on our website. Keep up the good writing.

    https://www.eagledigitizing.com/blog/function/c_error.asp?errorid=38&number=0&description=&source=&sourceurl=https://www.www.ocrvshop.com

    June 28, 2021 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  30. Start Error Mercedes Sprinter Repair

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    https://tenisnews.com.br/clickTracker/clickTracker.php?u=http://www.ocrvmotorsports.com

    June 28, 2021 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  31. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    Very good article. I definitely love this site. Stick with it!

    https://www.fuzokubk.com/cgi-bin/LinkO.cgi?u=www.ocrv.info

    June 28, 2021 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  32. RV Repair Near Me

    https://cztt.ru/redir.php?url=https://ocrvmotorcoachsales.com

    June 28, 2021 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  33. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    http://thegioiseo.com/proxy.php?link=ocrvcenter.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  34. Rv Frame Repair Shop

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!

    http://channel.iezvu.com/share/UnboxingyanálisisdeChromecast2?page=https://fleetautorepairshop.com

    June 28, 2021 at 6:07 am | Reply
  35. Keystone Sprinter Tank Repair Leaking

    I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.

    http://cyberlatina.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=sprintervanrepairnearme.com

    June 28, 2021 at 12:41 am | Reply
  36. Airstream Van Repair Near Me

    After looking at a few of the blog articles on your site, I really like your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site as well and tell me your opinion.

    http://ww31.sohushu.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetrepairshops.com

    June 27, 2021 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  37. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    http://badgerplugcompany.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.info

    June 27, 2021 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  38. Sprinter Van Recall Repair Near Me

    Good day! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I will be returning to your blog for more soon.

    https://app.newsatme.com/emt/ses/814/33cfb749dac0cb4d05f2f1c78d3486607231be54/click?url=https://fleetservicerepairshop.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 7:23 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.