Former senator questions actions in Libya

Former Senator Chuck Hagel speaks to GW's Veterans Campaign about the role of veterans in the government and the current crisis in Libya at the School of Media and Public Affairs Monday evening. Anne Wernikoff | photo editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Jake Swirsky.

A former U.S. senator questioned the military operation currently underway in Libya, comparing its lack of a clear mission to the Iraq War in a speech to veterans Monday night.

Speaking to GW’s Veterans Campaign, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., spoke critically of Operation Odyssey Dawn, where a coalition of nations is enforcing a no-fly zone over the country led by radical leader Moammar Gadhafi.

“If you have a wobbly objective, you’ll have a wobbly war,” said Hagel, an outspoken critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hagel said operations in Iraq were doomed to failure without a focused objective, and said he believes the bombings in Libya might do more harm than good, especially if Gadhafi remains in power.

“Once you start this war, nobody can control an endgame.”

Hagel called the recent revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa a “global self-correction of the world order due to technology driving an unprecedented rate of change in the world.”

A Vietnam War veteran, Hagel said veterans realize the “true enemy is the enemy on the other side of the battlefield and not the politician on the other side of them.”

He said veterans today have the highest popularity since those who returned from World War II, despite the public animosity about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Veterans have a credibility that people will listen to,” Hagel said. “Never forget that you have something important and never let anyone intimidate that.”

Hagel, who served two terms in the Senate, talked about the importance of surrounding oneself with “good decent hardworking people” in politics.

He said if you work with good people, they will rub off on you, and railed against the notion that the quickest way to the top is to work with people with a low moral compass.

While it is important to establish a base on most issues when running for office, veterans seeking elected office should not feel the need to become an expert on every single one, Hagel said.

“Life has a way of taking zigs and zags,” Hagel said. “I’ve always found that the fun part.  You’ll end up in places you never thought you’d be.”

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