Sen. Hagel speaks on
By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,
America is entering "a new seriousness of purpose that will define our
generation," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), one of the leading lights
of the Republican Party, in a speech in Houston on Monday.
"The events of the last weeks have touched
each of us in ways that we haven't fully yet comprehended," Hagel said
to a luncheon gathering of the Houston Forum in downtown's Hyatt Regency
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)
discusses "The World Redefined" to a lunch gathering of the Houston Forum
"The world has been redefined, if you'll
allow a weak-minded U.S. senator from Nebraska to make such a big, bold
pronouncement," he said. "But then, I'm in Texas,
and you're used to big, bold pronouncements."
Hagel, who was elected to the Senate in
1996, said that in 1998, he delivered his first major foreign policy speech
at Harvard University. There, he warned of the
new "borderless threats" facing the United
States, particularly "terrorists and the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction, the greatest threat to global security."
He said then that in order to defeat terrorism,
"we will need to build coalitions with other nations out of mutual self-interest."
"Today, I wish those words would have rung
hollow," Hagel said. "But the talons of terrorism have drawn American blood
on American soil, and we are now engaged
in an enduring struggle against this evil.
All the world is engaged in this struggle."
The struggle will have three distinct stages,
Hagel said. The first one (the one the U.S. and its allies are currently
engaged in) is the "prepare, protect and prevent"
stage, which requires "a sustained effort
against terrorism, which takes many forms, of which bioterrorism is the
The second stage, he said, is the "interconnect"
stage. "This will require accepting the reality that the world is, has
been, and increases to be interconnected in every
way," he said.
The needs of the global community are immensely
complicated, he said, and in order to meet them, today's leaders face as
great a challenge as that faced by
President Harry Truman and Secretary of
State George Marshall at the end of World War II.
In dealing with the countless countries
involved in the struggle, Hagel said the United States must realize that
"each nation is different. Nations start from different
places. They cannot go in the same way
at the same time."
Of critical importance, Hagel said, was
getting the Middle East peace process, all but dead after a year of violence
between Israelis and Palestinians, "back on track."
A Palestinian state must be part of the
ultimate conclusion of that process, Hagel said.
The third stage, which Hagel said would
evolve from the successes or failures of the first two, will be the "restructuring"
stage. The United States and its partners will
have to be willing to provide financial
investments and human capital in bringing "democratic governance" to the
countries in which terrorism thrives.
"The effort and the process will be imperfect.
But we must respond. We have no choice," he said.
Hagel summarized by trying to "peer into
the American soul." The attacks, he said, caused Americans, as individuals
and as a people, to take "a personal inventory.
Who are we? What is important to us? What
are our most important responsibilities?"
Since the attacks, he said, America has
"a new center of gravity," in contrast to the "societal laziness" that