Hagel On Iran

Throughout his career, Chuck Hagel has sought to protect Iran from U.S. sanctions and diplomatic pressure. 

In June 2001, Hagel denounced proposed sanctions on Iran, asserting they “isolate us.”

In July 2001, Hagel voted against the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which passed 96-2. “The act helps deny Iran and Libya money that they would spend on supporting terror or acquiring weapons of mass destruction.”

In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging that President Bush highlight Iran’s nuclear program while at the G-8 summit.

In April 2006, in a speech in Islamabad, Pakistan, Hagel declared that “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”

In July 2006, in the context of the Israel-Hezbollah war, Hagel called for the Bush administration to open direct talks with Hezbollah’s backers, Iran and Syria. “Ultimately the US will need to engage Iran and Syria with an agenda open to all areas of agreement and disagreement. For this dialogue to have any meaning or lasting relevance, it should encompass the full agenda of issues.”

In August 2006, Hagel was only of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter asking the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

In May 2007, Hagel said in the Q&A after a speech, “I think it’s really dangerous to be talking about using military force against Iran. … I don’t think you can ever dictate to a country, especially like Iran. Iran is one of the most powerful countries in the Middle East, if not the most powerful.”

In October 2007, Hagel sent a private letter to President Bush urging “direct, unconditional” talks with Iran to create a “historic new dynamic in US-Iran relations.”

In March 2007, Hagel declined to join 72 Senators in supporting a bipartisan sanctions bill called the Iran Counter Proliferation Act.

In September 2007, Hagel opposed 76 Senators in voting against designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. The “sense of Congress on Iran” read: “the United States should designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization…and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”

In November 2007, Hagel claimed that “Continued hostile relations between the United States and Iran will have the effect of isolating the United States.”

In June 2008, Hagel advocated opening an “American interest section” in Tehran. “But the conversations I’ve had with the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, both — actually, the last three, including the current one — other indications I have, I think that that is an area that we could explore. I don’t know why that would not be in our interest to do that.” [The last time U.S. diplomats were stationed in Iran, they were held hostage for 444 days.]

In July 2008, Hagel voted in the Senate Banking Committee against legislation imposing sanctions on countries conducting certain business with Iran. It passed 19-2.

In October 2008, Hagel was cited as “solely responsible” for holding up a bipartisan Iran sanctions bill in the Senate that had 72 co-sponsors.

In March 2009, in an interview on Al Jazeera, Hagel agreed that the U.S. is “the world’s bully.”

INTERVIEWER: “We’ve got an email from Wendy Day. She writes to us from Georgia here in the United States. She writes, ‘Can the rest of the world be persuaded to give up their arsenal when the image of the U.S. is that of the world’s bully? Don’t we indeed need to change the perception and the reality before asking folks to lay down their arms (nuclear or otherwise)?’”

CHUCK HAGEL: “Well her observation is a good one, and it’s relevant. Yes, to her question.”

Excerpts from Hagel’s 2008 book, America: Our Next Chapter.

“America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power does not decrease Iran’s influence, but rather increases it.”

“Iran will not be deterred from developing nuclear arms only because the United States and the EU say they must—especially if they feel threatened and if the United States, Great Britain, France, and Israel, among others, all retain their nuclear weapons.”

“America is the Great Power—not Iran. Because of the awesome responsibility that comes with such power, it falls to us to advance the proposition that the United States and Iran can overcome decades of mutual mistrust, suspicion, and hostility.”