Video: Chuck Hagel Says 'You Do Have to Engage' With Iran

L to R: Sen. Chuck Hagel, Time columnist Joe Klein and Asia Society Chairman Richard Holbrooke at Asia Society headquarters on October 24, 2008. (Bill Swersey/Asia Society)

U.S. President Barack Obama today officially nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to succeed Leon Panetta as U.S. Defense Secretary. Hagel, who appeared at Asia Society headquarters in New York in October 2008, has voiced strong opinions on United States policy in Asia, views that some analysts believe could help complicate his confirmation.

As Senator, Hagel was critical of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has long been an outspoken advocate of engagement with Iran, telling the Asia Society audience "we don't have any choice on these things... you do have to engage. Eisenhower engaged, Reagan engaged, Kennedy engaged." The alternative, he cautioned, is "we'll just blow up the world."

During his 2008 Asia Society appearance, Hagel also told Time magazine political columnist Joe Klein that he considered Pakistan "the most dangerous country in the world" and that the issue of extremism and terrorism would not be solved until U.S. foreign policy considered the common interests and goals of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

What do you think of Chuck Hagel's views?  Would he make a good Secretary of Defense? Watch the video excerpt below and share your views as a comment.

About the Author

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Asia Society's Executive Director of Digital Media, Bill Swersey has more than 25 years of journalism, photography and digital media experience.