Hagel in ’05: ‘We Need Allies’ To Combat Terrorism

by Andrew Johnson

During his nomination earlier today of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, President Obama cited Hagel’s service in Vietnam as a part of a broader record that qualifies him for the position. In a 2005 appearance on C-SPAN’s Q&A, Hagel explained how his experience in Vietnam had shaped his worldview, emphasizing the importance of diplomacy and international relationships:  ”We need friends. We need allies. We need institutions and structures — like we formed after World War II — of common purpose, dealing with common challenges. Terrorism is a common challenge; it’s not unique to America. If we want to win against terrorism, it’s going to take all of these relationships, seamless networks of intelligence-sharing and -gathering. So yes, that experience in Vietnam has shaped me and will continue to shape me.”

Hagel, for example, has opposed the imposition of unilateral sanctions on Iran. His remarks are reminiscent of those made by another Obama nominee — Massachusetts senator John Kerry — who, in a 2004 presidential debate, claimed that the United States had the right to take preemptive action abroad if it “passes the global test, where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.”