Chuck Hagel: moving forward by Charlyne Berens

By Charlyne Berens

In overdue August 2004 the Republicans have been celebrating the nomination of incumbent George W. Bush for one more time period as president of the us. in the course of the festivities, Chuck Hagel, a senator from Nebraska, used to be telling newshounds that the Republican occasion had “come free of its moorings.” This used to be a daring place for somebody pointed out by way of the recent York instances, la occasions, and Boston Globe as a potential 2008 presidential candidate, however it used to be no longer fantastic coming from a Republican senator who had additionally lately remarked that the profession of Iraq used to be poorly deliberate and that it had inspired the unfold of terror cells through the global. who's Chuck Hagel, what's his tale, and is he a real participant at the nationwide political degree? Charlyne Berens units out to reply to those questions in her shut and cautious examine some of the most attention-grabbing and self sufficient figures at the present American political scene. Having survived a journey of accountability in Vietnam and having made a fortune as a pioneer within the mobile phone undefined, Chuck Hagel probably got here out of nowhere to overcome a well-liked sitting governor in a race for the U.S. Senate in 1996. Berens charts Hagel’s speedy upward thrust to nationwide reputation and effect and examines the historical past that has led Hagel to an outspoken internationalism that regularly places him at odds along with his personal social gathering and president. This complicated, plain-spoken Nebraskan will be on his solution to the White apartment. Charlyne Berens explains why and the way.

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Hagel’s experiences in Vietnam also made a permanent difference in how he thinks about war and its role in international relations. He remembers vividly what happened after his personnel carrier hit the land mine. He was sitting in a helicopter, his face so badly burned it hurt even to put salve on it, waiting to be evacuated. ” The moment is fixed in Hagel’s memory. “I remember thinking, ‘If I ever get out, and if I ever can influence anything, I will do all I can to prevent war,’” he recalled. He still thinks about it, saying, “Not that I’m a pacifist.

He was sent to Vietnam about a month after his brother. Tom had also been set to go to Germany—for a six-month stint before heading to Vietnam—but he volunteered to go directly to Asia. In so doing, he and Chuck believe they must have agreed to let the army sidestep its rule against brothers serving together, the so-called Sullivan Rule enacted after World War II to prevent the draft from sending brothers to the same unit and hence the same risks. Someone had told Tom that Chuck would be sent home once Tom showed up in the same theater.

S. allies. “I still see images of a great nation running away,” Hagel said, “knowing the fate of most of the people left behind. . ’” In 2004, looking at how entangled America had become in Iraq, Hagel began to think maybe the nation had had no good alternatives when it left Vietnam in the seventies. S. ” One of his obligations as a senator, he said, is to bring some of his perspective to the table as the Senate debates wars and rumors of wars. What he sees as an obligation some others see as disloyalty to his party and his president.

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