Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hagel: Pointing in Leadership's General Direction

by Ryan Anderson
It made me sick to see Sen. Chuck Hagel glad-handing Kofi Annan at the Truman Library. I'm sure President Truman was rolling over in his grave after Annan's remarks about America. Sen. Hagel should have turned his back on Annan for what he said.

I believe that Chuck Hagel has turned his back on President Bush and on Nebraskans in hopes for a shot at the president's job. We all should be ashamed of Sen. Hagel. If Americans don't start standing up for America someday, there won't be an America and we won't be free.

This letter last week joined a growing cacophony of Nebraskan voices disgusted with Senator Chuck Hagel's introduction of Kofi Annan at the Secretary General's controversial farewell address. The ensuing ruckus forced Hagel to issue a response in the form of an intriguing guest editorial published in last Sunday's edition of the Omaha World Herald:
Global challenges like the environment, pandemic health issues and energy also will factor into a new 21st-century policy paradigm. The more defined threats like proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and religious extremism will not be successfully met only through the use of America's unequaled military power. It also will require enhanced and strengthened multilateral relationships and institutions, closer intelligence-sharing with allies, expanded trade and effective exchange and education programs.

All of the great challenges of the 21st century will require U.S. leadership that is trusted and respected, not feared, throughout the world. Inspirational leadership, moral authority and confidence in America's noble purpose, not imposed power, will be essential if the world is to live together peacefully with hope for all of mankind.

An expansion of American influence must include a strengthening of the world's multilateral organizations like the United Nations.

Hagel wisely argues for a shift not only in foreign policy tactics, but also in our larger strategic goals. For forty years in the latter part of the 20th century, the broad framework crafted by a small group of statesmen and intellectuals in the Truman administration largely determined the course of the Cold War. This world order collapsed along with the Berlin Wall and in its place we have… nothing.

Our national debate can no longer afford to focus solely on the strategic shortcomings of this administration or our response to whatever immediate threats dominate the morning's headlines. The long-term interests of our nation and our world require that we start thinking twenty or thirty years ahead, and doing so will require not only an informed and engaged public but also significant political courage on the part of our national leaders.

These are questions we can’t really answer as long as our military (and our treasury) remains caught in sectarian crossfire, but a successful exit from Iraq will almost certainly require opening up a dialogue with Iran and Syria, an unpleasant option to many.

Considering how sour the public’s perception of the Iraq War has become, this just might be the easy part. Eventually, our global crisis will demand that we confront issues we’ve become rather found of ducking: Sudan and Somalia, the National Missile Defense Shield, restructuring the military, reforming agricultural subsidies...

But Hagel isn't calling for any of these first steps. He's not even coming close. Hagel argues only for diplomacy most basic. If such a call is considered controversial in this state, we Nebraskans have a long and rocky road ahead.


Blogger Dave said...

Bringing Iran and Syria to the table is absolutely essential to any solution. Unfortunately for all of us, the Bush administration appears unwilling to even consider the possibility. We won't see a drawdown in troops, and may perhaps even see an escalation in the near future. Things are going to get far worse before they get better, all because Bush still clings to this notion of "victory." You don't "win" an occupation.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Two other lines from Hagel's editorial caught my eye.

"In stark contrast to inaccurate and overheated press reports of the secretary-general's speech, American generosity and the indispensability of America's world leadership were themes that the secretary-general talked about. (For a text of the secretary-general's speech, please visit UN)

Anyone who reads Annan's full remarks would recognize how both the mainstream and, particularly, the right-wing media mischaracterized them as a screed against U.S. policies. Still, what can Hagel expect as a member of the political party that has spent decades undermining America's faith in the UN's leadership and legitimacy?

We have at times failed, but we have learned from those failures. And they have almost always been failures of judgment, not intent."

I worry that we so often give ourselves the benefit of the doubt as to our motives and intentions. Just because we can make an argument that our intentions were good doesn't mean such argument holds water or reflects reality. Our policies are driven by many interests - some good, some decidedly not - but we learn nothing so long as we and our leaders persist in seeing disaster through Pollyanna's eyes.

I appreciate Hagel's relative boldness on foreign policy, but he remains far too eager to sugarcoat and to tell the American people what he thinks they want to hear.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again Hagel gets to play monday morning quarterback. The bottom line is he voted against a provision to make it more difficult for Bush to commit troops. then he voted for the war resolution. If he believed half of what he said before the war started and since - he would have voted differently.
Its so transparent: He talks a big game and then votes the opposite way so he can tout his "100% ACU voting record." I cant wait for him to run for president so the National media can tear his limbs off.
The Democratic Party nailed Hagel: they call him "Sunday" Hagel when he talks a good game and "weekday" Hagel when he votes like a GOP robot.

He is beatable.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

I don't think the national media has any interest in tearing Hagel's limbs off. At best, I think they might crown him "the real maverick" and compare him favorably to McCain (as kos has become accustomed to doing). Maybe if anyone thought there was any chance of Hagel ending up as president of the United States the media would care enough to rip into him, but frankly they've got bigger fish to fry.

Anonymous Haggeled said...

Ryan - with all due respect - you'd have to actually be a maverick to earn such a title. Mouthing off on one issue doesn't cut it.

BEsides, as the Hagel camp knows so well, the OWH has already crowned Nebraska's other Senator as the "REAL MAVERICK".

But you may be right about the national media interest. It seems to me that only NE media cares - albeit Hagel did get a fluffy NY Times Mag profile and a recent WashPost op-ed. For America, lets pray you are right.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

"Ryan - with all due respect - you'd have to actually be a maverick to earn such a title. Mouthing off on one issue doesn't cut it."

I'm not giving him that title, it's just my impression of how the MSM treats him.


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