05/17/2007 - 5:04pm
Hagel's Partial Reengagement
Posted by Don Kraus
Senator Chuck Hagel's presentation yesterday at the Center for National Policy on "America's Role in the World" was just what the doctor ordered. He discussed the need to "reintroduce America to the world," highlighting the increasing percentage of the world's population who never knew the America that "lead with their allies after World War II to rebuild the world." Instead, they know us by Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. "These kind of things represent frameworks and images for America that do not enhance us, they diminish us."
Hagel talked about "reengaging the world" and suggested closing Guantanomo. He said that "the future of Iraq will be determined by the Iraqis" and said we should "start thinking about things like a U.N. mediator, getting the U.S. face out of and off of the political process in Iraq."
One of Hagel's most important points was this:
Hagel is a politician who in my opinion "gets it." He knows our world is interconnected. He knows that military force does not solve most problems. My question is this: why is Hagel so out of touch when it comes to climate change?
Hagel just voted against a Kerry global climate change amendment to a water bill that required that the Army Corps take climate change into consideration when designing water projects. It was a test vote that indicated in many ways where senators were on the issue. In March he opposed adoption of S. Res. 30, a Biden/Lugar resolution that calls for the U.S. to reengage in negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish binding limits on greenhouse gasses. Althought the measure passed in committee, Hagel's voice will be very important when it finally comes to the floor.
How can Hagel call for reengagement, but not support U.S. reengagement in what is one of the greatest challenges of our times? When I spoke to his staff about this I was told that reengage in the Framework Convention would impart "severe economic harm to the U.S." And what exactly will the economic impact of global warming do to our nation and the corn fields of Nebraska? Hagel's primary international response to climate change is to support voluntary transfers of technologies that reduce greenhouse gasses to developing countries. This is not reengagement.
Hagel has said that he will decide if he will run for president, perhaps as an independent, later this summer. I hope he does. Win or lose his presence will add much needed substance to the race. But before he makes this decision, I hope he addresses this disconnect in his platform.
Senator Hagel you are correct. We need to reengage but we need to do it on all fronts.
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