Hagel 2007: U.S. Acting Like ‘Schoolyard Bully’; ’08 Candidates Too Hard on Iran

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In a Nov. 8, 2007 speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, then-Sen. Chuck Hagel likened the U.S. to a “schoolyard bully,” adding that none of the presidential candidates in the 2008 race were “speaking to the great challenges of our time” because they were competing to take a hard line on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Rather than acting like a nation riddled with the insecurities of a schoolyard bully, we ought to carry ourselves with the confidence that should come from the dignity of our heritage, the experience of our history and from the strength of our humanity, not from the power of our military,” the Secretary of Defense nominee said.

Hagel argued that the U.S. should engage Iran, rather than pressuring Iran through sanctions and the threat of military force. He repeated–almost verbatim–a suggestion he had made earlier in the year, at a now-famous speech at Rutgers University, that the U.S. open a consulate in Tehran to “facilitate people-to-people exchanges.”

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