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Jul 29th, 2009

Updated September 3, 2009

The Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minn., has announced that former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Distinguished Professor in the Practice of National Governance at Georgetown University, will deliver the Third Annual Eugene McCarthy Lecture on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater on the campus of St. John’s University in Collegeville.

Sen. Hagel will address the life of the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy (a 1935 SJU graduate) and discuss issues raised in his recent book with Peter Kaminsky, America: Our Next Chapter — Tough Questions, Straight Answers (Ecco, 2008).

Biographical Note

Chuck Hagel served two terms in the U.S. Senate. In 1968 he served alongside his brother Tom in Vietnam, where both were infantry squad leaders with the U.S. Army’s 9th Infantry Division. Hagel earned several military decorations and honors, including two Purple Hearts.

Book Description

Sen. Chuck Hagel has long been admired by his colleagues on both sides of the Senate floor for his honesty, integrity, and common-sense approach to the challenges of our times. The Los Angeles Times has praised his “bold positions on foreign policy and national security” and wondered, “What’s not to like?” In America: Our Next Chapter, Nebraska-born Hagel offers a hard-hitting examination of the current state of our nation and provides substantial, meaningful proposals that can guide America back onto the right path.

In America: Our Next Chapter, Hagel speaks the truth as he sees it — in a direct and refreshingly unvarnished manner. Basing his suggestions on thorough research and careful thought, as well as on personal insight from his years as a political insider, successful businessman, and decorated war hero, he discusses domestic issues — including the health care crisis, immigration, and Social Security and Medicare reform — and global climate change.

He confronts foreign policy problems that the Bush administration bungled or ignored, including China’s growing economy; control of U.S. debt; India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities; and Iran’s aggressive political, ideological, and nuclear stances. He decries the pervasive disease of Third World poverty, arguing convincingly that this is where the real fight against terrorism must begin.

Always true to the beliefs instilled in his childhood on the prairie, he speaks passionately about service – to one’s country and to one’s fellow citizens — as the path toward a renewed America. And, of course, he gives a candid examination of the debacle that was the Iraq War.

A staunch Republican … Hagel asks the tough questions and delivers straight answers to America’s most pressing problems. America: Our Next Chapter is a serious, honest, and, ultimately, optimistic look at our nation’s future, from an American original.


September 1, 2009

Sen. Chuck Hagel

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel Delivers Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — In 1967-68, Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy opposed President Lyndon Johnsons policies regarding the Vietnam War — even though McCarthy initially supported the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that authorized American use of force in Vietnam.

On Aug. 25, 2005, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel became the first Republican senator to publicly criticize the Iraqi War and call for the withdrawal of American troops — even though Hagel initially supported the use of force in Iraq.

Almost 40 years apart, McCarthy and Hagel spoke out and challenged a U.S. foreign policy position advocated by the sitting president of their own party.

Hagel will deliver the third annual Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, Saint John’s University. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by The Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, and is co-sponsored by the SJU University Chair in Critical Thinking.

Hagel, a native of North Platte, Neb., served in the Senate from 1997 to 2009 (he was not a candidate for reelection in 2008). He served on four Senate committees: Foreign Relations; Banking; Housing and Urban Affairs; and Intelligence and Rules.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Hagel served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army, where he earned two Purple Heart medals. Following his tour of duty, he was a newscaster and talk-show host in Omaha.

His career in Washington began in 1971, when he became an administrative assistant to Nebraska Congressman John McCollister, serving until 1977. Hagel then became manager of government affairs for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (1977-80) before returning to the governmental sector as deputy administrator of the U.S. Veterans Administration (1981-82).

After leaving the Veterans Administration, he became an investment banker and business executive in Washington and Omaha. Hagel was named deputy director and chief executive officer of the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7) in 1990.

Hagel has also co-written a book, America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers (Ecco Press, 2008), with Peter Kaminsky. Former Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell said that Hagel “writes with insight, expertise, authority and with the credentials that come from his dedicated service in war and peace.”

The Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture was established in January 2006. McCarthy spent seven years as a student at Saint John’s Preparatory School and University, and nearly one year as a member of the Benedictine community of Saint John’s Abbey.

The lecture series carries on McCarthy’s deep commitment to the ideals and principles of democratic self-government. It seeks to inspire a new generation of young people to pursue fresh ideas, to challenge the status quo, to effect positive change in their communities and, like McCarthy himself, to lead with honesty, integrity and courage.

Past lecturers in the series have included newspaper columnist, author and commentator E.J. Dionne (2007), and civil rights leader Julian Bond (2008).


Hagel’s Stand

By Robert D. Novak

April 30, 2007

Sen. Chuck Hagel returned from his fifth visit to Iraq to become one of two Republicans to join Senate Democrats in voting Thursday to begin withdrawal of U.S. troops. It was not an easy vote for a conservative GOP regular and faithful supporter of President George W. Bush’s other policies. A few days earlier, Hagel sat down with me and painted a bleak picture of the war and U.S. policy. …

Hagel faces a political paradox as he ponders a career decision — whether to run for president, to seek reelection next year or to get out of elective politics. His harsh assessment resonates with many Republicans who believe Bush’s war policy has led the party to disaster. …

Hagel certainly is no peace-now zealot. “We’re not going to precipitously pull out,” he told me. “We have [national] interests in Iraq.” While he asserted that “we can’t get out by the end of the year,” he called for “pulling some of our guys out — not all of them, but you’ve got to get them out of [Baghdad] at least, get them out of the middle of civil war.” If not, Hagel said, “then the prospects of the Republican Party are very dim next year.”

What about claims by proponents of the Iraqi intervention that failure to stop the terrorists in Iraq will open the door to them in the American homeland?

“That’s nonsense,” Hagel replied. “I’ve never believed that. That’s the same kind of rhetoric and thinking that neocons used to get us into this mess and everything that [Donald] Rumsfeld, [Paul] Wolfowitz, [Richard] Perle, [Douglas] Feith and the vice president all said. Nothing turned out the way they said it would.”

It is “nonsense,” Hagel said, because “Iraq is not embroiled in a terrorist war today.” Hagel, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cited “national intelligence” attributing “maybe 10 percent” of the insurgency and violence to al-Qaeda. Indeed, he described Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds as opposed to al-Qaeda: “They don’t like the terrorists. What’s happened in Anbar province is the tribes are finally starting to connect with us because al-Qaeda started killing some of their leadership and threatening their people. So the tribes now are at war with al-Qaeda.”

“So,” said Hagel, “when I hear people say, ‘Well, if we leave them to that, it will be chaos’ — what do you think is going on now? Scaring the American people into this blind alley is so dangerous.”

These judgments come from someone credited with rebuilding Nebraska’s Republican Party and who has earned a lifetime conservative voting rating of 85.2 percent from the American Conservative Union. Hagel represents millions of Republicans who are repelled by the Democrats’ personal assault on President Bush but are deeply unhappy about his course in Iraq.


Hagel’s Dilemma

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
The American Conservative
April 9, 2007


Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) on his vote for the 2002 Senate resolution authorizing the president to go to war in Iraq:

“I laid out all of my reservations about the resolution,” he said, referring to his Oct. 9, 2002 floor speech. “In the end, I voted for it because I was told by the administration that the president would not use military force unless all diplomatic options were exercised — they were not — but I think its always dangerous not to give your president leverage and latitude, allowing him to deal with the international arena with unlimited powers.”

“Would I vote for it today? No, I wouldn’t,” he added flatly. “We went into Iraq based on flawed judgment, based on dishonest motives, based on flawed intelligence, and we have a very, very big problem today.” …


Related reports on this site

Chuck Hagel and his brother Tom sit on an armored personnel carrier in Vietnam. (Photo credit: AP)

Endorsement: Sen. Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense (Dec. 21, 2012)

Chuck Hagel McCarthy Lecture (Sept. 24, 2009)

Sen. Chuck Hagel Speaks in Minnesota (Sept. 23, 2009)

Sen. Chuck Hagel on National Defense (Sept. 3, 2009)

Hagel Lambasts Limbaugh (Nov. 19, 2008)


Full disclosure

In 2006, I joined Charlie Hinderliter’s grassroot movement to encourage Sen. Chuck Hagel to run for president. Below is an example of the kind of promotional material disseminated by another “Draft Hagel” group, United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

After Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, I held out hope that Chuck Hagel would be tapped as his vice-presidential running made. I remain hopeful that President Obama will nominate Sen. Hagel to succeed Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense.

Read Sen. Hagel’s Washington Post op-ed, “The limits of force” (Sept. 3, 2009).

Purple Heart

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — July 29, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 15

One year ago today, on the 15th day of my campaign campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I reported on an op-ed dealing with energy prices that I had written for the St. Cloud Times the previous day; met with Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner and Emergency Manager Marvin Klug to learn more about important local law enforcement and public safety concerns; announced the release of a new web video in which I discuss my core campaign issues; and challenged unendorsed Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson’s justification for the Iraq war.

7 Responses to “Sen. Chuck Hagel to Speak at SJU”
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