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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/13/13

What will Hagel's experiences lead to?

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Sequester has clamped its jaws around us.   Neither party is happy.

The Defense Department and its related activities gobbles more than 60% of our nation's tax revenues.   One party is more dissatisfied with that then the other.

Former United States Senator Chuck Hagel was finally approved as Secretary of Defense, or undeclared wars.   Almost all of the Republican party is unhappy with having a twice purple hearted Army infantry grunt run the Defense Department.

Based on the life he's lived in his own words, what do you surmise Chuck Hagel will do?

You won't get his unblemished words on Fox News, but you will get it in this book review.   Here, however, we really do report the news and let you decide, albeit with an informed tartness to our views.

America Our Next Chapter
America Our Next Chapter
(Image by Chuck Hagel's book cover)
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America Our Next Chapter by Chuck Hagel's book cover

America Our Next Chapter by Chuck Hagel's book cover


What does Hagel feel about service?

It's what the French historian Alex de Tocqueville found so remarkable about our democracy and its people in the 19 th century. When a barn needed to be built, he marveled, the neighbors came together and pitched in to build it. There is a common purpose here in doing something important and good for your neighbor, and an understanding that maybe tomorrow your neighbor can do something important and good for you, too.   Service to others. Service to your country.   P 2

"The traditions of service and sacrifice that defined Roman citizenship and led to its greatness disappeared as the citizens grew fat and happy on the spoils of empire.   Rome was just one more case of a universal principal according to Toynbee: "Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder."   P 21

Then he (his Sargent) said the words that I will never forget.   It put things into perspective that have helped shape my life.   "I'm doing what I do for you, but I'm also doing this for more people than yourself.   And you've got to understand this: You've got to be the best and give your best because people are going to rely on you.   They're going to depend on you if you go to Vietnam.   They're going to rely on you throughout your life.   You're special because you got this training.   You can never let those people down.   People's lives will depend on your abilities, training, and judgment."   P 152


What was Hagel's feeling about Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq...?  

Chapter 2   Iraq    Reality, Illusion, and Politics

There was little good that came out of the Vietnam war and its aftermath, a conflict that cost 58,000 American lives and millions more among the people of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.... I was initially confident that the lessons of Vietnam, bought at such a high price in American blood and treasure, would provide our political and military leaders with some hard-won perspective before sending American troops to the Middle East.... As I mentioned earlier, I have long held the belief, and shared it with my colleagues, particularly in the fever-pitched debate leading up to the invasion of Iraq: it's easy to get into war but not easy to get out of war. P. 38

If the acclaimed author and historian Barbara Tuchman were alive today, she might be tempted to add a fifth chapter to her magnificent book, the March of Folly. Her book is about four monumental historical blunders: the Trojan war; the Renaissance Popes who provoked the Protestant secession; the British loss of the American colonies; and the Vietnam war. In fact, I feel certain she would add a fifth blunder: America's invasion and occupation of Iraq. P 52

I'd also received similar assurance when I asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and Sec. Wolfowitz: how are you going to govern Iraq after Saddam is gone? Who is going to govern? Where is the money coming from? What are you going to do with their army? How will we stabilize Iraq? Do we have enough troops? How will you secure their borders?

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Dwayne served in the Peace Corps in the slums of Mumbai, India, worked several Habitat Projects, and was on the start-up team of the California Conservation Corps. He has a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University, has been a builder, teacher, (more...)

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