<em>The Guardian</em>‘s Ewen MacAskill on the Chuck Hagel Salon

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hagel richard vague daniel yergin.jpg
(Cambridge Energy Research Associates Chairman Daniel Yergin, former First USA Bank CEO Richard Vague, and Senator Chuck Hagel — New America Foundation/American Strategy Program dinner salon, 20 February 2007)
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) recently spoke at a policy salon I hosted with businessman Richard Vague in Washington, DC. (See Richard Vague’s recent report Terrorism: A Brief for Americans.
It was a terrific evening during which Senator Hagel articulated what he would do to get America’s national security portfolio back in shape. A lot of the speech was captured in a talk he gave a few days later at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, but he demonstrated what a tenacious candidate he might be if he decides to run for the presidency, which I think he might.
The dramatic tenor of the night was captured by this article, “Anti-War Veteran May Rally the Republicans” (pdf here) that appeared in The Guardian Weekly by Washington, DC Bureau Chief Ewen MacAskill. I am reprinting the article in full with permission from The Guardian:

The Guardian Weekly — Washington Diary
2-8 March 2007
Anti-War Veteran May Rally the Republicans
by Ewen MacAskill, Washington Bureau Chief, The Guardian

Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator from Nebraska, is one of the few senior figures in either Congress or the Bush administration to have been in combat. While many of them deferred their service, like the chief hawk, Vice-President Dick Cheney, or did a short spell on home soil in the National Guard, like George Bush, Hagel spent time in the mud of Vietnam as an infantry sergeant.
That experience explains why he is one of the leading opponents in Bush’s own party of the Iraq war. When the president announced his decision in January to increase the number of US troops in Iraq by 21,500, Hagel’s comment was one of the most widely quoted in the media. He called the troop surge “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”
Hagel, 60, has not yet announced that he will seek his party’s nomination for the 2008 presidential race, but there were few people who heard him speak last week in Nora’s, one of Washington’s favourite political restaurants, who doubted he intends to run. He was speaking at one of the capital’s best-known salons, run by Steve Clemons, head of a centrist thinktank, the New America Foundation. Clemons is one of the city’s great networkers, with friends across the city and across the parties.
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(former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson and Senator Chuck Hagel)
About 30 people joined Hagel and Clemons upstairs at Nora’s: senate staffers, policy wonks, businessmen and journalists. It is an egalitarian salon: no reserved seating and questions open to anyone. Hagel spoke for about 20 minutes on the record and took questions, off the record, for the remainder of the dinner. He sounds like John Wayne and has the same bras self-confidence, but does not share the late actor’s rightwing, gung-ho opinions. In fact, Hagel is an unusual Republican, with a complex set of views, conservative on many issues but so liberal on others he could pass for a Democrat.
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(former State Department Middle East expert Hillary Mann Leverett, Financial Times correspondent Guy Dinmore, and former G.W. Bush administration National Security Council Middle East Director Flynt Leverett)
The front-runner for the Republican nomination is Hagel’s fellow senator, John McCain, also a Vietnam veteran, who spent five years in a communist prisoner of war camp. But McCain and the other front-runners, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, have so far not enthused their party in the way that the Democratic party has been lifted by the stellar trio of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.
Almost any political analyst will say it is too early to write off the Republicans, in spite of the anti-Bush mood in the polls. The Democrats’ problem is that almost every recent presidential race has been exceedingly close, and next year’s could be determined not only by party, personality, campaign style and policies, but some chance remark. Or it could be the candidate’s position on the Iraq war. McCain’s problem is that he is too closely identified with the war, having long advocated an increase in troops. If the war continues to go badly, and there is little reason to believe otherwise, Republican support for the war could erode and they may look to someone with a record of opposing it, like Hagel.
Hagel is unusual in his party in other ways. He is liberal on many social issues that most Republicans refuse to countenance, such as gay marriage. Hagel says he regards marriage as between a man and a woman, but is relaxed about homosexual or lesbian marriages. And on an issue that is too hot even for most Democrats, burning the Stars and Stripes, he voted for legislation making it a crime but said that he could still see why people might want to do it as a form of protest.
One of Hagel’s strongest points is that people instinctively like him. A wealthy businessman at Nora’s recalled the first time they had met. The businessman had been braced for a request for funding, as he would have expected from most candidates, but instead the two discussed foreign policy. He came away refreshed that Hagel seemed to be more interested in his opinion than his money.
Hagel’s anti-war views are not confined to Iraq. During the Israeli war against Hizbullah in Lebanon last year, he urged Bush to call an immediate ceasefire, something not only the president but Tony Blair refused to do.
He also calls for the closure of the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where more than 300 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Muslim world have been detained without trial. He sees this as damaging America’s reputation as a champion of human rights.
While Bush refuses to open dialogue with Iran, sent an extra aircraft carrier group to the Gulf and insists that all options remain on the table, including a military strike, Hagel spoke passionately at Nora’s in favour of negotiating with Tehran. His opposition to escalation of the Iraq war and avoidance of one in Iran can be traced to his still strong memory of Vietnam, from which he returned in 1968 with shrapnel in his chest and two Purple Hearts. Like the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, another Vietnam vet and one of the few members of the administration who cautioned against the Iraq invasion, Hagel has seen at first hand what happens in war.
In an interview with GQ magazine in January, he said: “Certainly, going through combat in Vietnam and seeing war up close, seeing friends wounded and killed in front of you, you cannot help but be framed by that experience. When I got to Vietnam, I was a rifleman. I was a private, about as low as you can get. So my frame of reference is very much geared toward the guy at the bottom who’s doing the fighting and dying.”
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(CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman and Scowcroft Group Principal Arnold Kanter speak with USA Today correspondent Barbara Slavin)
What are Hagel’s chances of winning the Republican nomination? Some at Nora’s, discussing him after he had left, thought he might make it, while others said that he might instead end up as vice-president or secretary of state. Others said that McCain is still the Republican to watch.
But, whatever their thoughts on Hagel’s chances, almost all seemed to be impressed by this anti-war senator from Nebraska.
Ewen MacAskill is Washington Bureau Chief of The Guardian.

Great article on Hagel and the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program salon.
These salons are packed with interesting people — and they do ask tough questions. Our roster of attendees for the salon with Senator Chuck Hagel included:

Washington Bureau Chief of The Guardian Ewen MacAskill, Circuit City founder Alan Wurtzel, former First USA Bank CEO Richard Vague, Washington Post editorial editor Fred Hiatt, Council on Foreign Relations Board Member Peter Ackerman, CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman, New York Times national security correspondent Michael Gordon, Wall Street Journal diplomatic correspondent Neil King, former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson. . .
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(New America Foundation/American Strategy Program Director Steve Clemons and Senator Chuck Hagel)
Moriah Fund CEO Mary Ann Stein, C-Span producer Robb Harleston, Atlantic Philanthropies director Christopher Oechsli, USA Today diplomatic correspondent Barbara Slavin, former President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Member and Scowcroft Group Principal Arnold Kanter, New America Foundation Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Posture Initiative Director and www.ArmsControlWonk.com blogger Jeffrey Lewis, New America Foundation/Century Foundation Senior Fellow and Middle East Policy Initiative Director Daniel Levy, New America Foundation Senior Fellow Anatol Lieven, Wall Street Journal correspondent Jay Solomon, Senator Hagel’s Chief of Staff Lou Ann Linehan, The Week Washington Editor Margaret Carlson. . .
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(Council on Foreign Relations Board Member Peter Ackerman, Soros Fund Management officer Michael Vachon, and Washington Post editorial writer and Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Sebastian Mallaby)
Washington Post defense correspondent Karen DeYoung, New York Times intelligence correspondent Mark Mazzetti, Arms Control Collaborative Director Terri Lodge, New America Foundation Geopolitics of Energy Initiative Director Flynt Leverett, Georgetown Visiting Professor and former National Intelligence Council Middle East Director Paul Pillar, American Prospect Senior Editor Michael Tomasky, former State Department INR Middle East expert Hillary Mann Leverett, Washington College Professor Andrew Oros, Financial Times diplomatic correspondent Guy Dinmore, ExxonMobil DC Office Chief Dan Nelson, Council on Foreign Relations economics and foreign policy fellow and Washington Post editorial writer on sabbatical Sebastian Mallaby, Ashcroft Group Senior Vice President William C.T. Gaynor. . .
New York Times investigative correspondent Jim Risen, former Republican National Committee Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer Crooks Gaynor, Economist economics correspondent and frequent author of the “Lexington Page” Adrian Wooldridge, Cambridge Energy Research Associates Chairman Daniel Yergin, Soros Fund Management Director of Communications Michael Vachon, Time State Department Correspondent Elaine Shannon, Reuters diplomatic correspondent Carol Giacomo, Venture House Group Chairman Mark Ein, among others. . .

Whether discussing potential Republican or Democratic candidates, I believe that the single most important defining challenge facing the United States today is our engagement in the Middle East.
America’s diminishing prestige, collapsed moral position, and over-stretched military capacity has shown the world our limits. In that environment, enemies have scrambled to move their agendas and U.S. allies are counting on us less. The global equilibrium of interests has been thrown out of whack. Everyone’s behavior has changed — and that has created an enormously dangerous global geostrategic environment.
America’s engagement in the Middle East must be redirected if it is to salvage anything from this point forward and if the U.S. is going to start rebuilding its domestic and international standing.
I think that there are a number of candidates on the Democratic side that may move in this direction eventually — but I’m not convinced that many have really offered more than incrementalist proposals that remain in the same general grooves of Bush’s direction in the Middle East. Wes Clark and Joe Biden are exceptions — and there are others — but they are not yet setting the political pace of the country.
On the Republican side, Chuck Hagel has the framing right — and it’s a narrative I do hope that he brings into the presidential arena. . .soon.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

29 comments on “<em>The Guardian</em>‘s Ewen MacAskill on the Chuck Hagel Salon

  1. Robert Morrow says:

    Hey, have I mentioned about what a crummy religion Islam is today? Well, it sucks. Just read what this former Islam bride who got suckered into marrying an Islamic Afghan has to say:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article1480090.ece
    Now that I think about it, Hillary Clinton could be our roving ambassador to Islam and Muslim states. Maybe she can channel her Bill hate, which she takes out on Republicans, into a more constructive, fruitful direction.

    Reply

  2. susan says:

    Hagle talks like a centrist but votes hard right. Atrios thinks that some liberals will be snookered by the hollow Hagle.
    http://atrios.blogspot.com/
    Beware of the Serious Liberals and Their Mancrushes
    “Chuck Hagel is basically the most conservative Bush-supporting Republican in the Senate. Despite the fact that he makes pleasing noises about Iraq on a regular basis, he has followed those pleasing noises up with precisely no action.
    Nonetheless, I expect a small epidemic of mancrushes on the guy from the Serious Liberals if he announces.”

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  3. Bill Camarda says:

    Conservative as he is — and in many respects, he is VERY conservative — the constituency within today’s Republican Party for the candidacy of someone like Hagel is infinitesimal.
    Senator Hagel questions authority in the interests of what he perceives to be the broader public good. Outside a few survivors in the Beltway and the Northeast, and maybe your stray Log Cabin or pro-choice Republican, such people do not choose to be active members of the GOP in the 21st century.
    I will not disagree with you, Steve, that such people are precious, and they should be encouraged and nurtured. But when it comes to Hagel’s presidential candidacy as a Republican, let’s face facts. He will confront a preponderance of primary voters who detest seeing authority questioned when it is held by their party, and hold the idea of a broader public good in utter contempt.
    His only route is a long-shot Anderson-like Unity ’08 candidacy. When push comes to shove, I’d be stunned if he did that (nor would I support it).
    From a political standpoint, I think going the independent route presumes not first running in the Republican primaries and carrying the walloping badge of rejection he would certainly get there.

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  4. DRK says:

    Lotta white guys in suits.

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  5. Marky says:

    All this talk about how great Hagel would be as President lacks balance. How about a few posts on what a brilliant, capable, effective Senator he is now? Look at how he has almost single-handedly stopped the surge by getting 58 Senators to agree to cut funding for the war, or how he has been safeguarding the liberties of Americans by voting against renewal of the Patriot act, and been a lone voice calling for Gonzalez’s impeachment for lying to Congress. My God, he ALMOST signed on to a draft letter calling for Cheney’s impeachment for his role in Plamegate and all that entails. The man is a TITAN.
    I fully support a candidate with a record like that! Go HAGEL!!!
    …..*yawn*… good morning. … just woke up. *yawn*. What’s Chuck up to today?

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  6. NMC says:

    It is worth noting that Chuck Hagel recently scored significantly higher (that is, more conservative) than Sam Brownback (“God’s senator” himself) on the conservative congressional vote rankings. That’s not to say people aren’t entitled to having the option of voting for a very conservative presidential candidate. However, they should know what they are voting for — his “maverick” record on foreign policy might lead them to believe otherwise — and so this is a piece of information they should have.

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  7. TruthSeeker says:

    Hello Steve,
    I’m a little concerned because it seems like you are thinking seriously about endorsing Hagel if he decides to run. This worries me because I respect your work, influence, and opinion; but a close examination of Hagel’s record in the Senate would reveal he is not the type of President that this nation needs at this time. In a previous post, I said I agree with Hagel’s stance on the war, but his positions on many other issues, especially social, are troubling. There are plenty of progressive, anti-Iraq war candidates to choose from. I’m just curious, and I’m not being facetious, what is it exactly about Hagel that you admire?

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  8. gq says:

    buuba,
    It doesn’t matter what a Republican does, its what they say. Hagel has been part of the problem. He could have used his presence in the GOP majority to fight for some sort of oversight but didn’t do anything where he could have actually helped to change course. He gave the GOP cover.
    It’s pretty laughable to say that Clark is afraid to tell it like it is or fight for what he thought was right. Or that he is somehow “weaker” than Hagel–a look at his record demonstrates as much. All the problems we are facing now, Clark warned against. The frame that Steve likes to contribute to Hagel was brought into play years ago by Clark and others. I’m a moderate and can say definitively that Hagel is no moderate. He is an extreme conservative and the ONLY thing that I agree with him on, to some extent, is his ME policy. People who make Iraq the only issue may like him, but I’m not a single issue voter. Even that flies in the face of his voting record and lack of, to me, visible effort to fight for oversight. (Also, didn’t he VOTE for Bolton? What a reasonable guy, huh?)

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  9. Carroll says:

    “to hopefully neuter the chances of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton… a thought worth repeating to ten of your closest friends.But this country is outright not itself, is acting schizophrenic and completely dysfunctional.
    Posted by liz at March 7, 2007 06:34 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Well I endorse that thought 100%.

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  10. buuba says:

    And yet, despite all the glowing remarks about Hagel’s brilliance and proposed positions on policy topics, he has voted with the current sadministration almost 100% of the time. He is one of the biggest enablers of the problems this country has experienced these past 6 years. He talks a big game and when it is time to put some money down or put some skin in the game Hagel can be counted on to…punt and put his party first over the country’s interests EVERY time. Yes, that is what I really want in a president, someone who talks a good game but buckles to his party. Yeesh. Wake up folks (and you Steve). Had Hagel actually done something, taken some sort of a stand against the policies of this administration, both by voice and deed, before this president and veep were totally and completely unpopular lost causes, I would give Hagel some props. But he deserves none.
    Steve, you really seem to like and support folks who talk a good game but fail to ever back up their speeches with actual deeds when those deeds ACTUALLY MATTER (Powell, Wilkerson, Chaffe, McCain, Hagel). Oh well. Otherwise, keep up the great work on the other issues on wich you educate us. Despite your weaknesses for certain types of politicians, your site is a must stop.

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  11. ESaund says:

    Hagel is one of the few “presentable” Republicans, and as such, has no chance of gaining the support of his party.
    What the press euphemistically calls “the base” needs to be fed a steady stream of homophobia, misogyny, xenophibia, something that Hagel cannot deliver.
    Face it – the Republican party is a shell of it’s former self because the right wing looneys took over, and Republicans cannot win elections without them.

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  12. John B. says:

    I fully agree with Carroll’s post at 1:35 am.

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  13. Pissed Off American says:

    Hagel’s past interests in ES&S cannot be ignored. Nor can his unethical, and probably criminal attempts to conceal his interests in ES&S be ignored. A “criminal”, by definition, is someone engaged in dishonesty of one form or another. Considering Hagel’s past, why are his stated positions to be taken as truths? How many candidates get on the podium, and state the popular political line, when in fact they have no intention of honoring their promises? When unethical and/or illegal actions have already been demonstrated by a candidate, doesn’t it seem just a bit foolhardy to now take them at their word?
    As Bush has so ably demonstrated, it is the dark sides of their character that need the careful examination, not the smiling good ‘ol boy sides that the Scott Pauls so carefully package for our consumption.
    Draw your own conclusions about Hagel’s integrity….
    http://tinyurl.com/2scmrt

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  14. Marcia says:

    If, as it seems, you are backing Hagel whose stance against the current foreign policy of military expansion, or perhaps only its bungled execution and renunciation of soft power would be the basis of his bid for the WH do not forget the Republican economic and domestic policies remain of equal importance.
    The quasi destructuration of civil society, the imbalance of the three branches of government, the undeclared class war being waged on the poor and middle classes will not sustain an expanding empire indefinitely, especially in face of growing hostility world-wide.
    This fundamental dichotomy between civil society and the military-industrial-corporate control of policy and the means to impose it is bound to lead to explosion or collapse. The present administration, working hand–in-glove
    to further private interests declared, ““American Interests,” has no scruples whatsoever about the means used to attain their goals. I think these questions can no longer be treated separately
    Where are the economists? Can the country sustain another Republican administration, morally and economically? If power is like a drug do all become addicted? Can we afford presidents who have no doubts or just the best money can buy? What sets Lincoln apart from other Presidents? Perhaps his sleepless nights and humanity more than his intellect.
    Off subject but I wish I could offer several paintings by Brughel the Elder to our politiciens. Rarely has humanity been so clearly depicted in its diversity and rarely laid on canvas the knowledge that the lowest among us knows something of life that he alone knows and that life is not a commodity. Brughel seized the moment to show us that no day ever comes back.

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  15. liz says:

    Who are the Liberterians going to run this year because I have not seen my candidate. I see nothing close to representative government in the United States and in fact, don’t see much united anymore other than land mass. Many many residents of South Carolina plan to go vote Obama in the primary to hopefully neuter the chances of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton… a thought worth repeating to ten of your closest friends.But this country is outright not itself, is acting schizophrenic and completely dysfunctional.

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  16. Marky says:

    Hagel speaks very clearly when he votes—and it is with Bush’s voice, more than almost any other Republican. I am completely mystified by the dreamy Hagel supporters who refuse to judge him by he most important part of his record.

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  17. jf says:

    Wow. The suggestion that there are Democrats out there who don’t already believe “American engagement in the Middle East must be redirected” amazes me. Okay, Hagel is your guy. Great. But your own framing of the positions in the field of candidates is warped to set your guy in contrast. You can portray Hagel in a very positive light without being unfair to others in the field.
    Pick one Democrat of the top three or four candidates for President who you feel hasn’t been calling for greater international cooperation than Bush’s demonstrated policy. Using that candidate as an example, please describe in detail how he or she fits that second to last paragraph to support the statement. As for “not yet setting the political pace,” no one person does that, unless I misunderstand your meaning. In any event, your Hagel is an admirable, exceedingly well-qualified, reasonable candidate for President. We would be lucky to have him in any of the highest offices in government. You can be a booster for someone without wrongly characterising his competition.

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  18. Carroll says:

    Posted by easy e at March 7, 2007 01:03 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    Well I might be just dreaming here and I am mostly speaking my own feelings, but I think Americans are ready for someone who will speak plainly about what is wrong with America right now and how to fix it…even if the fix meant compromising some and giving up their political prejudices and setting aside their pet emotional issues.

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  19. easy e says:

    Wonder how Hagel would respond to the question Wolf Blitzer asked Howard Dean on the Situation Room?
    “Governor, do you want to see a special prosecutor investigate the president and/or the vice president?” Blitzer asked. “Is that what I’m hearing?”
    “Well, no, I didn’t say — you are very good with this, Wolf, but I didn’t say any of those things,” Dean answered. “What I did say is, there is more to come.”
    The dems continue to have no spine. If Hagel sends the message that in view of the Libby verdict WE OWE IT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT HAVE DIED IN IRAQ, TO HAVE BUSH AND CHENEY INVESTIGATED……..then he will generate traction.

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  20. wilsones says:

    Hagel makes a lot of sense on foreign policy. And the man has real strength too. He doesnt’ appear to see the world from a point of view of privilege. He’s got the gravitas. He’s a great combination. But his position is been so anti-Bush that it’s hard to imagine a situation where Republicans would actually embrace him.

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  21. Jon Tupper says:

    Thank you Steve and all those of you who
    have access to corridors of power who are
    engaged in the work represented here.
    Include there many folks I don’t know about, and
    folks like Col. P. Lang who I met on a link
    here.
    I just watched “Hijacking Catastrophe”
    on you tube and I was stunned.
    I felt the propaganda starting a few days
    after WTC attacks and I now know I’m not so alone. Just know that down here on the street, in Dunkin Donuts, in the public schools, people are starting to get really pissed off. Without literate,
    networked people, we ain’t got a chance.
    So go to the mat, and leave it there.
    I am.
    I asked the kids on my middle school bus run
    “When a Marine takes his or her oath, is it to
    the President or to the Constitution?”
    You know what?
    They screamed: “The Constitution” Hollered.
    Take back the FCC, please.
    Too many people let their minds
    be controlled too easily.
    Leo Strauss unfortuneately may have been right.
    However, providing food, farms, much, much better education for all kids, an alternative energy Manhattan project initiative, medical care,
    jobs and teaching debt free living will change
    what national security is. Providing leadership
    that has courage, fearlessness as Vandana Shiva
    said, providing leadership that is dignified,
    will change life. I do my best to live like that.
    And when I fail, I say so as soon as I can and
    ask forgiveness of my Creator and try to do better.
    I remember in the film Gandhi, at the salt mine,
    where the people lined up to be beaten.
    Yes. It brought down the British Empire
    Nonviolence. Tonight I don’t think I have
    that courage. I still wanta fight.
    I prefer making music and painting watercolors.
    However, Mr. Wolfowitz is wrecking my neighborhood
    And I’m mad.

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  22. Carroll says:

    Please, please,please…run Hagel.
    Hagel may not suit everyone, especially die hard partisans and the far wings of the left and right. Not all his positions suit me, but my instincts tell me he may be the right man for the country in these times.
    I agree with Steve, our ME and international problems are THE issues for the US’s future welfare, prosperity and security.. and I think Hagel has the right attitude and ideas on our foreign relations.
    I also like Gen. Clark, but Hagel comes across as somewhat stronger, someone who can take a stand and justify, not apologize for, it in a way everyman can understand and agree with even, if it’s a grudging agreement because Hagel just plain makes sense.
    I am too cynical to have heros so I don’t expect perfection, but Hagel-Clark are the only ones who have shown me anything real yet..so my fellow dems and repubs here can take MHO for what it is worth.

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  23. gq says:

    I was hoping for at least a week without a Hagel post. Alas, twas not to be…

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  24. beth says:

    The All-Hagel, All the Time Channel

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  25. Marky says:

    Zathras,
    I’m against Hagel running, because I want to see the GOP candidate with the least chance of success running. However, he’s certainly better than many others. I’m wondering if staying out of the campaign now may turn out to be wise for, say, Hagel or Clark.
    I think it’s quite plausible that McCain will be seen as completely out of the running by June or July. Less likely but still plausible for similar reasons is a collapse in Hillary’s chances. The late entry may find more room than people now are anticipating.

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  26. Zathras says:

    Getting the foreign policy framing right is a great thing for a prospective candidate to do, as long as he has a strategy for winning the campaign.
    You won’t find anyone more depressed than I am about the dominance the permanent campaign has come to exercise over the business of government, but at some point anyone who wants to be President will have to campaign for the job. That will require money and organization; for Republican candidates this year it will also require decisions on how to deal with the unpopular Republican incumbent President.
    Now, if all the other current and prospective GOP candidates collapse, someone like Sen. Hagel could afford to raise less money, put off getting organized, and finesse his position towards the Bush White House. If this does not happen, however, Hagel will alienate the majority of Republican primary voters who still support the President, by criticisms of the White House too tepid to separate him from Bush in the eyes of the majority of voters who dislike the President. He will do this while in addition attempting to overcome any Presidential candidates greatest disadvantage — very low name ID — with little money and a personality that at its best conveys stolidity, not excitement.
    I don’t add these factors up and see a successful Hagel candidacy. Even without the crushing handicap the Bush Presidency has become for any Republican trying to succeed it, I don’t see Hagel as a successful Presidential candidate. I understand that to a room full of foreign policy experts he must sound very reassuring compared to the inscrutability of candidates largely ignorant of foreign policy and having limited interest in the whole national security field — which is most of the candidates running this year. In some contexts this would be worth something. In Presidential campaign politics it isn’t worth anything.

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  27. JohnH says:

    “The global equilibrium of interests has been thrown out of whack. Everyone’s behavior has changed — and that has created an enormously dangerous global geostrategic environment.”
    Yep, it’s going to be difficult to coerce them into opening their markets to Halliburton and Big Oil and producing as much oil as we need at a favorable price. Time we starting addressing our energy consumption problem instead of trying to screw them out of their energy.

    Reply

  28. Marky says:

    Steve, what about Richardson?
    I like his comments about foreign policy, in general, because they are sensible and not cliched.
    I was bothered that both Hillary and Obama used the formulation “all options are on the table” when speaking of Iran. Those words have become equivalent to a direct threat when issued by an American leader. Richardson has not been formulaic in his word choice. I think this is a point that foreigners will pay close attention to, although it seems to get short shrift here.

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  29. Thomas Anderson says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    My hat is off to you. You are a privileged guy and run in really interesting circles. This kind of salon is something that we in the hinterlands don’t get to participate in. Some would think it unusual for you to report so much about these fancy dinners, but I think you are playing a vital role in our democracy. You are letting us see inside.
    You are really living the real “West Wing” and you are helping us to understand the machinations of the political world. Some give you a really hard time, but my family and I think that your work deserves the greatest appreciation and admiration.
    Truly, some midwestern fans,
    Thomas Anderson and family

    Reply

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