November 8th, 2007
05:08 PM ET
15 years ago

Hagel criticizes Bush administration on Iran

Sen. Chuck Hagel

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, lambasted President Bush's foreign policy on Iran and the Middle East in a speech sponsored by a Washington think-tank Thursday.

"I do not see how the collective actions that we are now taking will produce the results that we seek on Iran's nuclear program, in Iraq, on the Israel-Palestine issue, or on any issue," he said.

He added that he believes the United States should engage countries like Iran immediately, much like has been attempted with North Korea, because "each day becomes more and more dangerous."

"Now is the time for the United States to actively pursue an offer of direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with Iran. We cannot afford to refuse to consider this strategic choice any longer. We should make clear that everything is on the table, our issues and Iran's issues," he said.

Before the audience of academics and reporters gathered by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Hagel also accused the administration of using strong-arm tactics as diplomacy.

"Loose talk of World War III, intimidation, threats, bellicose speeches only heighten the dangers we face in the world. Without offering solutions and building international alliances we only strengthen the hand of those who prey upon and play to a confused, frightened and disorganized world."

Hagel, who earlier this year announced he would not run for president in 2008, said the president is aware of his concerns but has not yet responded.

"I wrote President Bush expressing my concerns about the path that we are now on regarding Iran," he said. "I told him that unless there is a strategic shift in our policies, I believe the United States will find itself in a dangerous and increasingly isolated position in the coming months."

But it wasn't just the Bush administration that was in his cross hairs - he also went after presidential candidates and Congress.

"None of us in public office today, the administration, Congress, our presidential candidates, are fulfilling the requirements of leadership at a crossroads time in history. Neither Republican nor Democratic candidates are speaking to the great challenges of our time - in particular Iran - with depth, strategic thinking and wise words," he said.

He also told the audience that he is concerned with how the international community views the country.

"You know the poll numbers - whether it's Gallup, or Pew or whatever - you know our standing in the world. Why is that happening to a great nation like America, a great people like the American people are?"

And when asked if he would reconsider his decision not to run in 2008 by a hopeful audience member, he explained that there is still a possibility of that in the future.

"Next year isn't the time, but I appreciate your confidence, your wise judgment," he answered to the amusement of the audience.

- CNN's Silvio Carrillo

Filed under: Chuck Hagel
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Brian, Orlando, Florida

    This country needs more Republicans like Hagel! Republicans that remember they are Americans first.

    November 8, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  2. Tim Hile, Salt Lake City, UT

    Senator Hagel is right. This administration thinks they can act like bully's on the world stage and use threats to intimidate any nation into doing what they want. Congress needs to stand up to this administration and say enough is enough before WWIII does break out. At least there are a few Republicans in Congress willing to stand up to the President. What's going on with the Democrats?

    November 8, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. brandi, ny

    hes right, but it's to little to late for iraq.

    November 8, 2007 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  4. Bob, Seattle

    It appears that Senator Hagel should look again at his wanting to engage Iran "much like has been attempted with North Korea"? It seems to me that the North Korean debacle was handled outside of the U.S. as all of the heavy weight negotiating was left up to China, Japan, et al. The Dems were lambasting us at the time for direct confrontation with IRAG and at the same time lambasting us for not having direct confrontations with North Korea?? It seems that no matter what avenue President Bush takes, he gets lambasted by somebody with an agenda. I fear that the next President won't have near the stoutness of heart to stand up for what he believes in. President Bush may be the last of those with true conviction and an understanding of the American folks. The real American folks that live in the 90% of the U.S. land mass that is conservative.

    November 8, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  5. Susan B, Wilmington De.

    I dont think Iran's nuclear problem is easily fixed. the international community with the exception of France doesn't seem that motivated to get involved. We need to make a decision though and not appear wishy washy about nuclear weaponry creeping closer and closer to reality in the ME>

    p.s. Hagel looks like Anderson cooper 30 years from now

    November 8, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. red33,cedar rapids, ia

    why doesn't Hagel just join the democratic party? He sure sounds like one; just like Murtha. Thanks for your service in the military, but I had 4 brothers, plus other relatives that served, and they would never have 'caved' like you did. This only encourages the terrorists. Think~~

    November 8, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. jr Buena Park, CA, 90620

    This Man is a real Republican.

    November 8, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  8. Kim. Dallas. TX

    Senator Hagel it's so nice to hear someone that has brains talking about the issues that face our country. I too believe that we are headed for a very dangerous situation if we keep the rhetoric this present administration is giving. I work at a middle school and I see it as nothing more than bullying behavior, not mature reasonable behavior from a world leader. I travel extensively and our country is no longer looked at as a leader. We are looked at as an aggressor instead. The ideology of PNAC has backfired on this administration and has made us a country that other countries despise instead of one that they look up to. How can we be a world leader when countries are abandoning us as a leader?

    We need someone with more common sense, more reasoning ability and definitely a higher intellectual ability. I would love to see you run for president!!

    November 8, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. Scott S., Port Orchard, WA

    Sounds to me like someone is up for re-election soon...

    November 8, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  10. Prabhu, San Diego, CA

    Way to go Sen. Hagel. I wish you were running for President. You may have garnered support from both Republicans and Democracats as you are so mainstream and apolitical. The country needs an uniter like you and the world needs one also.

    I am a lifelong Democrat and have admired your non-partisan approach to problems. What a shame that such great politician does not want to run for President and leave the senate altogether.

    November 8, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. no suprise, louisiana

    hey chuckie baby are you protecting our shopping malls?

    November 8, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. Chris, Toledo, OH

    Never too late to endorse Ron Paul, Senator.

    November 8, 2007 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  13. Dave NYC

    There you go! when Obama suggested it, CNN called it a gaffe. Now a republican is saying the same thing, this is common sense.

    The author of this article just ommittted to relate to that fact and this again shows how this news crew just deosn't stang right.

    November 8, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  14. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Chuck, buddy... haven't you retired yet?

    Believe me, many of us are counting down the minutes.

    With friends like these, who needs enemas?

    November 9, 2007 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  15. Kyle T. Holder, Omaha, NE

    As a Nebraskan, I feel like Hagel has it all figured out. The fact that he has decided not to run for the presidency disheartens me, and I only hope that he will throw his considerable political weight behind a formidable and honest candidtate.

    November 9, 2007 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  16. mark wilkes barre pa

    no kidding ? chuck hagel doesn't agree with Bush ?

    November 9, 2007 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  17. Kevin, Princeton NJ

    For all the political jargon that's being tossed around (Hillary not tipping, Obama plane going the wrong way, and Republicans courting evangelists as if it's one week before the witner ball), it's good to know that there are people actually working to re-establish relations as they should be.

    I agree completely.

    November 9, 2007 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. LYNNE

    Hey Hagel, why don't you go home quietly and with some class!
    You have never been a Republican, and we are disgusted with you, you have been a thorn in the party too long!

    November 9, 2007 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. Marlene Lawson

    Senator Hagel has given a fair-minded and tough assessment of our geo-political place in the world. I agree with his stance.

    November 9, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. Ilse, IL

    Kyle, I 100% agree. Hagel is one of the best there is on foreign policy, and has the vision and the understanding needed to make a difference. I can understand at least some of the reasons why he decided to give it up (enlightened comments like the ones from Eric above may provide a clue), and I also hope that he will be able to find a niche worthy of his talents. Having him go out of political life altogether would be such a waste, and watching him appear as a commentator on some news show would be painful.

    November 9, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hagel needs to talk to Bush about this or does this mean he's tried and Bush won't listen.

    November 9, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Karen,ny

    At least he said something. Most Republicans are afraid of the Bush adminisration. Congress is afraid too. The only people that are not is the American people. The only thing is we can't stop Bush. The government won't listen to us anymore. We are all disqusted.

    November 9, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Tim Hile, Salt Lake City, UT

    What happen to my post from yesterday on this article? Not worthy of posting? Anyway, at least an honorable Republican is willing to stand up to the President and not be a coward on this issue. If Congress doesn't do something soon, let's start showing the school kids the 1950's atomic bomb drill films!

    November 9, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. David, Encinitas, CA

    Oh my god, he must be a liberal...

    Finally a Republican with guts.

    November 9, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Eric, from THE Republic of Texas,

    "With friends like these, who needs enemas?"

    Apparently YOU do. I say we give your WHOLE state one! And any of the other remaining Dubya-supporting, 26-percenters that think stating the blatantly obvious is BAD.

    With the help of an enema, maybe their heads will pop out!

    November 9, 2007 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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