Is Chuck Hagel a pacifist?

Dave Weaver/AP file photo

Chuck Hagel is, by his own admission, haunted by Vietnam. When asked to explain his early opposition to George W. Bush's 2003 Iraq invasion in an interview in 2011, the former Nebraska senator harked back to his experience as an Army private fighting the Tet offensive in 1968. That maverick stance cost Hagel his reputation as a leading Republican, and it may be one reason why President Obama is now considering him as his next Defense secretary, with Leon Panetta set to retire. "We sent home almost 16,000 body bags that year," Hagel told me. "And I always thought to myself, 'If I get through this, if I have the opportunity to influence anyone, I owe it to those guys to never let this happen again to the country.' "

When Obama mounted a Bush-like "surge" in Afghanistan in 2009, Hagel wasn't happy either. "I'm not sure we know what the hell we are doing in Afghanistan," Hagel told me in 2010. "It's not sustainable at all. I think we're marking time as we slaughter more young people." Hagel had also opposed the surge in Iraq. In a dramatic moment on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007, Hagel implored his fellow Republicans to stop avoiding the truth about what he called the futile "grinder" of Iraq, and asked them not to send in more troops. "Don't hide anymore; none of us!" Hagel declared, raising his voice. Although several Republicans expressed misgivings, in the end only Hagel voted in favor of the nonbinding resolution.

Read the entire story at The Atlantic.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.