Chuck Hagel: International & domestic issues facing the U.S.

October 7, 2009 1:24:52
Kaltura Video

Chuck Hagel talks about his thoughts on former President Gerald R. Ford and the domestic and international issues that face the United States. October, 2009.


>> Susan: -- policy.  And I'm delighted to welcome all of you here this afternoon on behalf of the Ford School and the International Policy Center.  It's a great honor to have Senator Chuck Hagel with us in Ann Arbor to deliver the Ford School's 2009 Citigroup Foundation lecture.  Just last week, we were very pleased to welcome Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman to campus.  And, for us, to have two such prominent visitors within a week of each other has just been wonderfully exciting.  And we are, again, thrilled to welcome many of you back to join us.  The Citigroup Foundation lecture series was made possible by a gift from the foundation several years ago in honor of President Gerald R. Ford.  And we're extremely grateful for the foundation's generous gift which enables us to bring such distinguished policy thinkers and leaders to our campus.  Senator Hagel is one of the nation's most important and influential voices on international affairs and on foreign policy.  He's currently a distinguished professor at Georgetown University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He is also chairman of the Atlantic Council and a member of the Secretaried of Defense's Defense Policy Board.  He's the author of a recently publish book called "America:  Our Next Chapter."  Senator Hagel stepped down from the United States Senate in January of 2009 after serving two terms representing the state of Nebraska.  While in the senate, he was a senior member of three key committees:  The senate foreign relations committee; banking, housing, and urban affairs; and intelligence.  Before running for senate, he had a very successful career in the private sector.  He was president of McCarthy and Company, an investment banking company in Omaha, Nebraska.  And, in the mid-1980s, he co-founded Vanguard Cellular Systems, a publicly-traded corporation.  Senator Hagel's thinking about foreign policy has been informed by his own combat service in Vietnam where, as a 21-year-old enlisted man, he spent the year of the Tet offensive leading an infantry squad, and he earned two purple hearts during this time in Vietnam.  Throughout his career in public service, Senator Hagel's voice has come to represent the sort of politician who can reach across the aisle.  His time in the senate and his work since has been characterized by civility, moderation, pragmatism, and a non-ideological approach that enables him to forge partnerships on issues that matter to American lives.  He's also been very generous with his time for us already and we're very grateful to him for what I understand was a lively and informative discussion with some of our students.  I couldn't be more pleased to welcome Senator Chuck Hagel to the podium.


[ Applause ]


>> Senator Hagel: Thank you. [Applause] Susan, thank you.  I'm grateful for an opportunity to be here.  I want to thank Citigroup as you have already noted in your introductory remarks.  Of course, the University of Michigan and the Ford School.  I know it probably wasn't a simple or easy suggestion to take seriously that you would invite a cornhusker to this great state, this great university.  Although, we do have a couple of things in common.  One is Jerry Ford.  Many of you know that he was born in Nebraska.  We take some credit for shaping him, molding him.  [Laughter] He picked up his bad habits in Michigan. [Laughter] But, nonetheless, we're as proud of Jerry Ford and Nebraska as you are in Michigan.  We also share another common interest, and that is that we were the co-college football national champions in 1997 which we shared.  I -- I know you believe we were not worthy of that recognition; but, nonetheless, those who were far wiser than any of us made that selection.  And I recall getting on a plane at Andrews Air Force base at about 6:00 o'clock in the morning after the polls had come out, and those polls had suggested there was a split in the -- in the two champions.  One poll giving Michigan the national championship and the other Nebraska.  And I was with then your junior senator Spence Abraham, and he did not speak to me the entire way we were -- I think on our way to -- to China.  But, nonetheless, I did what I could and acted in a rather civil way, not that he didn't; but nonetheless, you try to inform your colleagues as best you can.  I want to particularly thank the students who are here, not just because you are here, but more as to why you are here -- your purpose.  And it has nothing to do with me.  It has everything to do with you as you are preparing yourselves and you are absorbing, not just what great institutions have to offer like this institution, but you are widening your horizons and you are widening your lens as to engaging in a -- a new dynamic challenging world.  And I, after this afternoon's opportunity to spend some time with some of the students, am fortified in my recognition of -- once again, of this generation for you will inherit as probably an exciting time in the world for mankind as there has ever been, not without problems, not without significant challenges, but you will have an amazing capacity to deal with those challenges and truly make a better world for all people.  I also wanna recognize the two senators from Michigan.  Carl Levin and I have, over the years, forged a -- a very strong relationship.  As you know, your senior senator is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  He presides over that committee at a particularly important time in our country and in the world.  And I know the president, the president's team will continue to rely on senator Levin very much.  I've always appreciated Carl Levin's style, his outreach, his -- as you term "civility."  He has always been the kind of senator we need more of.  I'm gonna talk about that in general when I address President Ford in more specific terms here in a moment.  Your junior senator has been adjusting very well to a -- a pretty fast pace over the last couple of years.  You have two United States senators, in my opinion -- although they are not of the same party I am -- that you can be very proud of.  They work hard.  They know the issues.  They're informed.  They do what they believe is right for their state and their country.  And I don't know how much more you can ask of your public officials.  And they conduct themselves.  They conduct themselves in a way that you can -- you can be proud of.  I wanna begin my thoughts today with a Gerald Ford quote.  And I came across this quote as I was finishing a book that I read twice.  It's -- it was a paperback.  And many of you, I suspect have read it.  It's called "31 Days."  And it is about the 31 days from the time Vice President Gerald R. Ford assumed office -- assumed the presidency and when he pardoned Richard Nixon.  That "31 Days" is quite instructive.  And, if you've not read this book, you should read it.  It -- it's -- it's quick reading.  But it tells you an awful lot about this man called "Ford."  It tells you about what he put as first on his agenda of priorities, how he saw his job, but also more importantly how he saw himself.  And we all know -- each of us in our lives -- and our students here will know this more and more as they ascend more and more responsibilities -- the central dynamic of anything in life is -- is being true to one's self.  You compete with yourself.  You don't compete with anybody else.  There is competition.  But, in the end, you compete with yourself and you answer to yourself.  And, in the end, when you take an inventory of -- of your life and what you've done, what you've not done, the mistakes you've made, right decisions you have made, it is all about you.  And you and only you are accountable.  Now we can make excuses, we can blame other people, influences and forces outside of our control but that's life.  That's life.  But this man from Grand Rapids was particularly instructive on -- on two principal areas, what I've always believed to be the two indispensable requisites for leadership, the two indispensable requisites for life.  And they are character and courage.  And, without those two qualities, you really don't have much.  And I don't believe you've got much at all in a leader if that leader does not possess both of those qualities.  And I'm gonna read just a very brief quote from the book on what Ford said about his decision to pardon Nixon.  And it is, of course, a very small part of the prelude that leads up to the last chapter.  But it's instructive, as I said, about the man.  And this is the quote: "As president, my primary concern must always be the greatest good of all the people of the United States whose servant I am.  As a man, my first consideration is to be true to my own convictions and my own conscience."  End of quote.  Well, I think that says an awful lot about Gerald Ford; and, he, in fact, lived that.  He didn't just say that, and it wasn't an excuse.  And because of that action he took -- and historians are still working through that and historians will still be writing about that in -- I suspect in 50 years.  And everyone has their own opinion on that, whether that was the right thing or the wrong thing.  But he fully appreciated what he had set in motion when he did that.  It was very unlikely that he was ever going to be elected president of the United States and he recognized that.  He could've deferred it.  He could've let it go to trial.  He could've maneuvered to after an election to ancillate himself from that but he didn't to that.  He hit it straight on, straight up, and honestly.  And, again, you'll make your own decisions, come to your own conclusions on whether it was a right decision or not.  I believe it was a right decision; not for Richard Nixon, but for the country.  And because in the end Gerald Ford said you have to be true to your own convictions and your own conscience.  And that's the way he saw it knowing full well the consequences that were coming.  In a world that we live in today, which is as complicated, as interconnected, as combustible as it's ever been with very little margin of error, a world of 6 and a half billion people as soon to arrive at 8 billion, character and courage and wide studied leadership are required more than at -- I suspect -- any time in the history of man.  Now I haven't been around for all of it, but even as the United States senator I read occasionally.  And I don't know of a time quite like this time.  This is a time that requires Ford statesmanship like never before.  This requires a weaving into our process, into our politics, into our decision-making, into our national character, into our leadership, into the optics that the world sees of us, forms an opinion of us based on their optics.  Not our optics looking out but reversing those optics and so the people of the world look at us and say, "What kind of a country is this?"  We have great issues to define.  We have great issues to settle.  We're engaged in great debate today over two critically important issues.  One is the future of health care.  You will decide where you come down on this as -- as you should.  But make no mistake this is one of those issues that has very significant long-term consequences if for no other reason, then we have entitlement programs in this country called Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that are essentially unfunded and will go unfunded.  And, for these young students sitting out here today, they will be required to finance these systems.  And the latest JO numbers over the next 75 years on these three programs alone, the unfunded liabilities that those programs represent they are now in law, we're obligated as citizens, as a government to fund those programs.  If no more programs, new programs are in place, over $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities is what those three programs represent.  Now that means that we have obligations of over $50 trillion over the next 75 years that we don't know how we're gonna pay for them.  We don't know where the money's coming from.  Health care is the core of that.  So this is a big debate.  This is an important debate.  And, if we would've had in the middle of this debate, as it starts to wind down, a Jerry Ford -- someone who was always focused on building a consensus to government, building a consensus to reach an objective -- there are partisan difference, philosophical differences.  There should be.  There should be alternatives and you debate those out.  But you do it with a certain responsibility knowing that you need to arrive at an objective at some point.  Some consensus must be built.  That means some compromise must be built.  The pressures that are now on institutions of self-governance are immense.  Those pressures are more significant than in any time, I am sure, in the history of man.  And those pressures come from the outside.  They're political pressures.  They're uncontrollable pressures.  They're media pressures.  They're -- they're pressures that come on leaders and on issues and on events from every side.  All politicians, all leaders, leaders of universities, leaders of any institutions have so much capital.  You have so much capital that you will use to lead.  Because, if you're leading, you're not going to have agreement on every issue all the time.  And there will be those who will question your leadership or your decisions and that's okay.  But that -- that political  capital is finite.  You -- you use it up.  So today, as we see the institutions of self-governance try to find a solution or at least some accommodation or some resolution to some of these great issues, we're finding that we are essentially paralyzed.  It is a raw, partisan, political paralysis that has struck our system.  Whose fault is it?  Well, it's -- it's everyone's fault.  It's the democrats' fault.  It's the republicans' fault.  It's our citizens' fault.  It's not the fault of the system.  It's not the fault of the process.  It's our fault.  Leadership does matter.  Leadership matters.  And, at a time when our nation in the world requires steady, strong, wise leadership, I fear we are failing ourselves as we see a political system constantly debased and defined down to the lowest common denominator of negative political campaigning.  The leaders, the politicians have to take responsibility for that.  Those running for office, the candidates need to take responsibility for that.  It's not good enough to say, "well, gee, I didn't know my television guys were gonna put those -- those adds on against my opponent.  I didn't know that."  Come on.  Of course, you did.  Accountability, responsibility.  We have drifted -- I fear -- in -- in a way that we have come loose of our moorings in a standard of expectation in our leaders.  Jerry Ford never let that happen.  He never let that happen.  Now Jerry Ford was not perfect.  No one that I've ever met is.  We all make mistakes.  These are big issues.  You can't defer the big issues.  You can't study them and then come back in a year or two and say, "Well, maybe we'll try this."  Second big issue that's going on in Washington today is President Obama and his national security team's analysis of Afghanistan.  What should we -- what should we do?  It is my sense that what's going on now is -- is the wisest, the most responsible course of action.  If for no other reason, then it's critical important to question assumptions.  What are the assumptions here?  Is -- is this a -- a campaign against terrorism?  Against insurgency?  Is it counterinsurgency?  Counterterrorism?  Is it nation building across southern Asia?  How do we factor in  Pakistan which surely is connected to anything that happens in Afghanistan and certainly the future of Afghanistan.  What real threat does that present to us?  Is the smart, wise way to do that to bog down large armies in historically complicated areas of the world or not?  The point being to review your reference points, review your larger frame of reference as to why we're there.  Today marks the eighth anniversary of our invasion of Afghanistan.  Within six months, our time in Afghanistan will surpass the two longest wars America has been in.  Vietnam has been the longest.  The American Revolution was the second.  Right now Afghanistan is third.  In six months, Afghanistan will be the longest.  It may be right.  It may be wrong.  But where we are is where we are.  So the president taking time to try to work through this, to try to find the best solution and resolution and policy for our interests and all the collateral interests that always encompass these -- our role in the world, how people see us in the world, the region -- this is a tough area of the world.  On one side of Afghanistan, you have Iran.  The other side you have Pakistan.  It's the convergence of three nuclear powers all along the same border with Iran emerging as a power -- a nuclear power.  This is very dangerous obviously.  And, to take time and work through this, in my opinion, is the -- is the right thing to do.  But this analysis and this working through the process cannot be done without some consensus among our leaders -- democrats, republicans, independents.  That we have a common goal, we have a common responsibility, we have a common objective; and that is to find some consensus as to where we go in this effort.  And, when we debase a system and -- and we minimize the importance of the political process and we lock ourselves in the cul-de-sacs of raw partisanship, that both sides -- the right, the left that essentially have dominated our two political parties in the process over the years -- say, "no, there is no compromise."  And you see the battle lines being drawn now in the congress of the United States essentially between the two parties on -- on this issue of whether more troops are needed or less troops are needed or where do we go.  That's not the way you fix a problem.  You -- you can't fix a problem when you destroy the process.  I rode in on the plane this morning with Tom Friedman.  He was going to Grand Rapids.  I'm glad you didn't go.  I'm glad you stayed here.  He was speaking in Grand Rapids this afternoon, and I think all of you know who Tom Friedman is.  And, if you follow his columns in the New York Times, you have probably noted that over the last month, he has written three columns on exactly what I'm talking about; and we talked about that on the plane ride in to Detroit.  And, just to prove my voracity, since I -- I once was a politician so there's some questioning about that, I produced a couple of copies of his column to, in fact, show him that I -- I was intending to reference him and the subject matter of those columns.  And we had a long talk about it.  And as Freedman is around the world and, I think, one of the best thinkers in the business today -- and you can't be a good writer without being a good thinker -- his contributions continue to become important as others; what David Brooks, for example, the conservative voice on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times this weekend talked about this issue as well.  He talked about it in a more narrowly focused area of talk radio.  That the talk radio people consume a certain amount of that air time on just continually ripping down the individuals.  Now I've always thought that these talk radio people are so brilliant with all the answers that it's unfortunate they don't run for president themselves or -- or not to deprive America of their great leadership because they are so smart.  But I -- I -- I've never found one that actually does that.  They're good at criticizing everyone else.  And, as I said, debasing the man or the woman who actually, as Teddy Roosevelt once talked about -- who actually is willing to subject themselves to the arena.  It's not easy to run for office.  It's not easy to be a leader.  It's not of any institution.  But much credit should go to those who are willing to expose themselves and put themselves out on a firing line and take the criticism and take the hits and -- and it's easy for the other guy to stand out of the arena and point fingers and make fun of him.  That's not how we change the world -- this world that Jerry Ford helped produce, his generation and his service to his country anchored much by his time here at the University of Michigan as he developed traits and characteristics and expectations of his country and his system and of himself, World War II, and then went into elected office, public service, and the House of Representatives and then president -- Vice President, president.  He, in his generation, essentially built a new world order after World War II.  And that World War II -- post World War II world that world order was built around what I refer to as "coalitions of common interests."  They built institutions -- all imperfect, all flawed -- but they built institutions that were anchored by and centered around common interests.  United Nations, NATO, general agreement on terrorists and trade which is now WTO, IMF, world bank, dozens of multilateral development institutions, banks all built around that common premise of you define your relationships based on your common interests.  You do not -- you cannot define relationships based on differences, if for no other reason.  And those differences -- and we have differences and we're gonna continue to have differences.  You will never ever get to a point where you can resolve the differences if there's no relationship based on some common interest.  That there's not a platform high enough up to deal with those differences.  Those great leaders after World War II, which Jerry Ford was one of them, understood that.  They understood it very, very well.  And that world order worked better than any -- any world order for that period of time with more people on the face of the earth than ever before -- than ever before.  Now we're over 60 years passed the time that world order was structured.  Institutions must be relevant, leaders must be relevant, you must be relevant to the challenges, to the issues, to the realties of your day.  And so there is always a recalibration of leadership, of institutions to make those institutions and that leadership relevant to those challenges, to those threats.  NATO is a very good example.  After the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1989 and everything that came as a result, the question was:  Why do we need NATO?  There is no longer a threat of Russian tanks rumbling down the folded gap in Germany.  What's the point?  Might as well disband NATO.  No more threats in the world.  Well, we -- we've now come to understand that wasn't quite the case.  Really and throughout history never has been the case.  There's always been a threat.  And there will be more threats.  And there will be threats that these young students will be dealing with that all of us sitting here today cannot yet conceive.  Just as I suspect, most people in the 1989, 1990, '91, didn't think a lot about terrorism, didn't think about the insidiousness of that extremism, what that does to malign religion and -- and use the good things in the world to manipulate people for any lend that we know is happening.  We know it's real.  We know there are people out in the world today that wanna destroy civilization or societies.  Total intolerance.  That's real.  That's not manufactured.  And what, again, we're doing today in Washington is trying to figure out what the smartest way to do this -- to deal with this.  But what Jerry Ford and his generation also taught us is you can't do this alone.  There isn't a challenge that faces mankind today and the United States and every state and every country, every group of people that is not interconnected.  Every challenge that faces us is a global challenge.  Take the inventory.  Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, pandemic health risks.  A swine flu we don't know where that goes.  Swine flu is just a blip as to what could happen in the world.  They don't know any boundaries.  Environmental issues.  The need for 6 and a half billion people to have water, to have protein, to have food, energy; extremism, intolerance.  We need not look beyond the current situation as we work our way out of the worst global -- global financial crisis since the Great Depression.  It washed over everyone.  It started here basically but it hit everybody.  There was -- there was not a country, not a person in the world untouched by this global financial crisis.  So we -- we are now all citizens, truly citizens of the world as well as citizens of our countries.  And there's always going to be a premisable false choice in this in that somehow you give up your sovereignty or you give up your American standards or your American -- we'll call "values" if you want to be part of that global community.  No, not at all.  That isn't the choice; never was the choice.  The reality is we will, I suspect, for some time to come -- I don't know for how long.  We will still all be part of a global community of nations, states, of boundaries, of sovereign countries.  But also we will all be part of a larger component of interconnected interests and institutions that only those interconnected institutions can deal with these great issues because there are no boundaries.  And it affects us all in the same way.  All in the same way.  Ford also understood that -- that the basic common denominator values of all people don't change.  Now I've not been to every country in the world.  I've been to a lot of them and met a lot of leaders.  And I have yet to ever meet a group of people -- and you can catalog it, measure it by religion, by ethnicity, by region, by culture, by societies, by tribes -- to find that one of those groups loves their family more than the other groups.  Or one of those groups has the high road of morality.  The rest of them are immoral.  No.  No, the fact is all people have a -- have the same kind of human instincts about each other.  Now they manifest it differently.  African tribes and their traditions certainly manifest their affections and their realties and their leadership of their communities differently than we do as a democracy in the United States, but that doesn't change the basic fact that they dismiss the human dynamics of respecting their elders, respecting their people, their rights issues.  Women's rights that are different than what we believe.  And we must understand that in order to deal with all these differences and accommodate these differences that we -- we have to show those same common denominator elements of what we value most -- respect for others because we -- we appreciate and certainly demand respect.  Your opinion is as good as my opinion.  You're no better than I am.  I'm no better than you are.  Just basic tenets of civilized intercourse.  We can't impose our values, our standards, our realties, our form of government around the world.  It will not work, never has worked.  And so as all these people are elbowing each other in the world today for these resources and how are they going to survive and how are these leaders of China and India and other emerging countries gonna provide for their people.  And our standards are as probably as high a standard as -- as there is in the world.  Here in the United States.  Our expectations of our job market, expectations for our young people, expectations from our government.  And how are we gonna accommodate all that with all these other issues?  Well, it's wise, steady, careful leadership.  And make no mistake.  The world does value what we say but don't always agree.  But the world is also watching us very carefully.  There was a time -- certainly, for the first 50 years after World War II when the United States did not have to be particularly cognizant of a reversible optics.  Our world pretty much was because we were the richest most powerful country on earth.  No one was close to us other than the Soviet Union having more nuclear missiles than us, but everyone was fairly confident that insanity would not prevail on either side.  That, that nuclear balance of power, that deterrent value of nuclear weapons was what it was but the fact is there isn't anybody in the world that did not understand that the United States was the most dominant, powerful nation on earth.  And so we really didn't have to care much about the optics on the other side.  Our world was through our optics, through our lens.  How did it affect us?  It's a different world today.  But, again, the false choices, it doesn't mean we're gonna be weaker or have to be weaker.  It doesn't mean we have to lose power.  Because China is ascending into a significant power we're not gonna stop that.  The smart way to work with China or any other country is -- is to find partnerships.  We want China to do well.  We want India to do well.  We want other nations to do well if -- if they define their conduct and behavior on international standards.  And that's why it's always good to have them in these institutions like the WTO and others; organizations like that.  These countries represent markets.  And the more these countries prosper the more they are invested in their own country, the more they're invested in peace and prosperity.  And the greatest threat of all to all of us -- which, again, Jerry Ford understood very clearly -- is instability.  It's not terrorism.  We'll deal with terrorism.  It's instability.  When the world is unstable, when people are locked into cycles of despair and hopelessness and there is no dignity, then there isn't much.  And people are capable of doing a lot of different things.  And they are easy prey for those who would use these other forms of governance, of philosophy, of religion to turn that on organized society.  And Ford understood that.  The world is defining itself today in a way that we've never ever seen before.  The rate of change in the world that's going on today is unprecedented.  But you don't need to go much beyond.  Just take the Internet.  How the Internet has changed the lives of everyone.  And I don't believe we're even close to taking it where -- taking this where it's gonna go.  It certainly has changed politics.  Look what Barack Obama did with the Internet.  The Internet is now in a position to replace much of the functions -- function and many of the functions of political parties.  You can raise money on the Internet.  You can define your candidacy on the Internet.  You can communicate on the Internet.  You can coordinate on the Internet.  You can do everything on the Internet.  Used to be you needed a political party to do that.  You don't -- you don't need that necessarily anymore.  Barack Obama took the democratic nomination away from Hillary Clinton using those techniques as much as anything else.  This is a powerful, powerful new tool.  Now the bad guys know that too but that's not new.  Every advancement of technology for man is out there for the -- for good guys to use and bad guys.  We just have to be smarter about it.  All these things are changing the world order that we can't control.  The G7.  There is no G7 anymore.  Now it's what?  G20.  Why is there a G20 and no longer a G7?  Don't like each other?  I don't think so.  The reason there's a G20 is because the 20 largest economies in the world are now the economies that are in the best position to deal with these great issues.  And even the largest 20 economies in the world aren't big enough to deal with these great challenges.  So -- so we -- we are sailing into a different kind of world than we've -- we've ever been in before.  That does not mean -- mean that -- that we somehow lose our ability to lead the world because there is no country out there.  If you take the middle east -- the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  Take any big issue.  Uncertainty of North Korea or Iran.  Without the United States leadership, there -- there will be no prospect for resolution.  Now we can't impose peace in the middle east.  We can't impose anything but we can lead.  We can bring consensus.  Just what I was talking about earlier about in the congress of the United States.  Consensus to do something about health care.  To make it better, accessible, affordable, quality health care for all our people.  Worthy cause I think.  I don't know if anybody would disagree with that.  These are the kind of things that we now have to frame up as responsibilities of our government, of our leaders.  And I think it is going to take a higher standard of expectation for our leaders; what we demand from our leaders.  And we as citizens have to also take some responsibility for this.  We can't just blame it on the politicians.  Politics reflects society.  Politics doesn't lead, it reflects society.  Politics and politicians respond, we react.  Now how well we react and how well we respond and how well we lead that's a different issue.  But politics is the process that we use.  And, if you destroy that process then there is no roadmap, there's no way to fix problems because the result is chaos.  The result is -- is not being able to structure a system to define the problem and then fix the problem.  Well, I want to -- before we get to questions, because I'm especially interested in hearing from our students, I want to make one -- one more general comment.  The world that we live in today -- whether you like this world or not -- is the world that we have.  And with all the challenges, with all the responsibilities and all the real threats, there's another element of this larger frame of reference that occasionally gets missed.  And that is the capacity that we have to not just deal with these great challenges but to actually do something about them.  I don't know if there's ever been a time in history -- I doubt it -- when one nation has had so much capacity, productivity, technology, culture, societal, every measurement of a country, every measurement of a society, wealth, resources.  Never has there been one country with so much capacity to do so much good for so many.  The only limitation we have is ourselves.  If we are not wise enough and bold enough to fulfill that potential, history will mark us as maybe the greatest  failure ever.  And I think of the 3500 votes that I cast in the United States senate in my 12 years.  I didn't cast a vote -- or Jerry Ford's 25 years in the House of Representatives.  I didn't cast one vote for -- for today.  That day that I wrote I certainly didn't cast a vote for yesterday.  Everything was about tomorrow.  We can control to some extent tomorrow.  We can define to some extent tomorrow.  We can do something about tomorrow.  And with all these resources and all this capacity, we are limited only by ourselves and the leadership to fulfill that.  And this is not just a -- a political issue.  This is not just a political leadership issue.  Every institution in this country -- you start with the great universities like this one is and this school that -- that helps develop these young minds but more importantly helps promote and instill the energies and the passions and the beliefs and the decency of these young people to go out and make a better world because after all that's what public service is about.  There's no other way to -- define and describe public service than making a better world for all people -- period.  That's it.  All those tools that we have to do that are right here.  Right here.  And that's the most important part of where we go in all of this.  With all the issues that I talked about and you know about -- all the things that we've got in front of us these are all manmade.  These are all manmade.  Manmade problems have manmade solutions.  Things that god did, nature does don't always have an easy, quick manmade solution.  But we made the problem, we can fix it, and that's where we are.  And that's the great challenge, I think, that history will record when history starts to reflect on this time.  And I don't know of anyone who has been more integral or central in setting a standard for our country by his leadership, by his character, by his courage, by who he was, by the fabric that he helped weave in this country than Gerald R. Ford.  And, for that reason and many more, I am particularly proud that I would be invited today to share some thoughts with you and to certainly recognize what President Ford meant -- meant to all of us.  And I also wanna say to the instructors and our teachers, professors -- which some now classify me in that group.  I am certainly truly unworthy of that.  But, in fact, my brother Tom, who was in Vietnam with me in 1968, is -- is a real professor if you consider law school professors legitimate.  But -- I just joke.  He thinks I have set back American education by generations by being allowed to have anything to do with young people and classrooms.  But he's always been quite envious of me.  Most of you have had brothers like that or sisters and you know what that's like.  But I wanna thank the teachers, the professors who are at this every day.  You know, in the Chinese culture, the greatest profession of all is teaching.  And why is that?  Well, this wonderful 5,000 year culture of the Chinese understood long ago that teachers influence the world and the outcome and personalities in people more than any other group of people except parents.  And, in many cases, the teachers are more important than the parents.  Unfortunately, when young people don't have parents or -- or parents that don't pay attention, it is the teacher that we look to.  It is the teacher that we always rely on.  It is the teacher that we take for granted.  So, along with our students and our administrators -- but I want to also thank our teachers for what you continue to do and especially do at this school.  Thank you very much.


[ Applause ]

>> Susan: Thank you very much, Senator.  Senator Hagel has graciously agreed to take some questions.  I would like to invite people who would like to ask questions if they could come to the microphone that's in the center aisle.  And I'd like to also ask people if they could be brief so that we can allow more of you to be able to ask a short question.  Thank you.

>> Senator Hagel: And I'll be brief with my answers.

>> Student: Senator, thank you for coming.  My name is John Slumrut [phonetic].  I'm a senior here.  In 1997, you were obviously a co-sponsor of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution in the senate -- which correct me if I'm wrong -- but basically said that the U.S. should not enter an international agreement on climate change if other countries, particularly, China and India, don't have their own restrictions.  Do you still have the same perspective on that issue?

>> Senator Hagel: The Byrd-Hagel Resolution which was passed in August of 1997, which you correctly note that I was the cosponsor at with Bob Byrd from West Virginia, said two things.  You mentioned one of them, and that is that the senate is on record saying that it would not ratify any environment on treaty if it did two things.  One, if it did not include all nations of the world, not in equal fashion, but all nations of the world in addressing this in their own way in some way.  Partly, that was a result of good logic.  
China now is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, surpassed the United States.  How in the world were we going to get to a resolution if it was global and the environment if we didn't ask all nations to participant.  Second part of that resolution was if it did economic damage to the economy.  Do you know what the vote was on that resolution?

>> Student: 95 to zero?

>> Senator Hagel: Yes.  And -- 95 to zero.  And I was in Kyoto at the time and we -- when they voted on it and Vice President Gore came in and signed it.  But President Clinton never submitted it to the senate.  And, unfortunately, what happened with it -- the reason he didn't submit it -- because he knew that the senate, 95 to zero, was on record saying that they'd vote against it.  
But I always thought there was a little dishonesty in that.  And what happened was -- because, if you believe in something, you signed it, why wouldn't you bring it forward to the United States senate where constitutionally we have the responsibility to debate it.  At least debate it.  Let the American people hear the both sides of this.  But we never -- we never saw that happen.  Unfortunately, what happened in the -- in 2000 when you had Bush and Gore running, is Bush took a very strong position in -- and I in Kyoto.  
And, of course, Gore was the one who signed Kyoto.  And, therefore, there was no middle ground or consensus to, well, where do we go from here.  And, unfortunately, it has cost us time.  It has cost us credibility.  I was asked in the spring of 2001, with the new Bush administration, to come brief the president, the vice president, and the cabinet on -- on what my thoughts were on what should be the position of the new Bush administration on an environmental protocol.  And what I did -- now the president wasn't there.  
The Vice President was there, and I think all the cabinet was there.  What I -- what I did say in about a 45-minute briefing to the cabinet was I thought the -- the Bush administration should come forward with an alternative environmental proposal that they could table at the U.N. general assembly in September of 2001.  
Well, we know what got in the way partly was September 11th 2001, but I don't believe the Bush administration ever had any -- any intention to go forward.  It certainly didn't happen in eight years.  Now there were pieces that they did but never a larger context of a -- of a treaty.  
And the reason I felt strongly about that is because, first, I thought we -- the United States -- did have some obligations and responsibility in this area and that we couldn't just walk away and say, "well, we don't like that one," and then never hear from us again.  That was hurting us terribly with our allies around the world and it was not in our interest to do nothing.  So that's a little bit of an embroidered part of where we are.  
I still believe today that the Kyoto -- Kyoto protocol didn't work, doesn't work, would've never worked.  And I hope we'll be able to come up with something in Copenhagen in December that is far more realistic because we do need to do something about this.

>> Student: Thank you.

>> Senator Hagel: Thank you.

>> Student: Senator Hagel, thank you very much for coming today.  You -- you're talking a lot about partisanship in Washington and how we need people who are more bipartisan who are willing to perform compromises and work across the aisle.  With the recent death of Senator Kennedy, we heard a lot -- we heard a lot of commentators talk about, like, he was the last senator to represent the older age of the senate where we had a lot of that bipartisan compromise so my question to you is:  
Why do you believe the United States Congress and Washington, in general, has become hyperpartisan and do you think we can return to an age of bipartisanship and compromise?

>> Senator Hagel: Well, let me start with Senator Kennedy.  Kennedy -- Senator Kennedy represents a tremendous loss for the institution of the United States senate.  Regardless of whether you agree with him or not, whether you like him or not, that's -- that's irrelevant.  This is a man who believed in the institution, who always tried to make the institution better, and he strengthened the institution.  He read Alexander Hamilton's papers.  
And you bright students I'm sure have all read the federalist papers probably three or four times.  The federalist papers are the implementing documents of the constitution.  You all know that.  And, especially, two or three of them -- I think 89, 87, 88, something like that -- are about the senate.  How should the senate work?  Why is there a senate?  And you all know the basics on why we have a senate.  
Kennedy was one of those who really strongly believed in the value of that institution within the walls of what goes on.  That no one person was bigger than the institution.  No one president is bigger than America.  No one individual is bigger than anything.  You remember the great -- de Gaulle quote:  "Graveyards are full of indispensable men."  That's it.  
And -- and he's a great loss -- Kennedy is to the -- to this country, I think too, by the way.  I left the senate in January of this year with some of those kind of people.  John Warner, World War II generation.  Pete Domenici.  
Some of those who really understood the institution and the responsibilities of the institution and responsibilities as us as custodians and fleeting stewards of the institution.  I do think it's generational.  I do think it's generational.  We only have about three -- two -- two maybe World War II veterans left in the senate.  Incidentally, both from Hawaii -- well, no we got three.  
And you can see the difference in -- in attitude and thinking about how they frame up issues and where we should go.  And I think we'll get back to that.  I think we're living through one of those blips in history of a very narrow partisan band of thinking that's brutal, that's nasty.  That's also, I think, much instigated by the talk shows that I've heard and I've mentioned.  
Everything is about confrontation.  The news -- the news channels, the -- the so-called "news shows."  Most of them have turned into just high-drama entertainment.  Very few real news programs.  Maybe the Laher Hour is probably as much news as any of them.  All these things have crowded in on what I was referring to institutions of self-governance.  I think we will come out of this, and I think we'll come out of it because of your generation.  I really do.  
Your generation has a wider band of understanding.  That doesn't necessarily mean you're smarter or your better, but you've -- you've been conditioned differently.  And your width is -- is much wider than any generation by many times over.  My -- I've got a daughter who just started college this -- this year.  Son is a junior in high school.  And I watch over the years how they've developed.  I mean, computers, Internet, no big deal.  
But they had been exposed because they've exposed themselves to both good and bad, but incredible things that they just start with knowing that no generation ever has.  Now that doesn't mean you won't squander it.  You might -- you know, you might.  You could screw it all up.  I don't think you will.  I have great confidence in your generation that you will -- you will ride it again.  
But these are historical blips.  But, again, I go back to this last point:  We're living in a time when there's little margin of error.  You can't recalibrate screwing up big decisions like you used to be able to.  You could make -- you could make bad decisions and make mistakes and you'd have some time to self-correct.  The magic of America has been as much as any one thing in our constitution -- the ability to self-correct.  
Half of the people in this room 90 years ago could not vote.  Women could not vote in America 90 years ago.  We fixed that through a constitutional amendment.  Unless you were a white, male landowner, when this great republic was formed, you didn't have all the rights.  Anybody think that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would be there today without the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act of 1965?  
I doubt it.  I doubt it.  We can self-correct without killing each other.  We can self-correct without going to the streets and having a revolution.  That's the magic of America as much as anything.  That's what we need to seize on -- using that self-correction process.  I think your generation will get it, but it's a loss to the institution when we lose people like Kennedy and Warner and those people but that's life.  No indispensable men or women.

>> Student: Thank you.

>> Student: Hello, Senator Hagel.  Thank you for coming.  Based on what you were speaking before in regards to the hyperpolarization with both the parties, also the doctrination, the strict party lines that both sides of the aisle were starting to go down, if you were to run again -- and I realize it's a very big "If" -- would you identify yourself or run more as a moderate democrat -- as a -- as a conservative democrat or as a moderate republican?

>> Senator Hagel: I would run as Chuck Hagel. [Laughter] I always have.  And I've been affiliated with the republican party philosophically.  When I first cast a vote, as a young 21-year-old sergeant sitting on top of a tank in the Mekong Delta in 1968, my first vote, I voted for Dick Nixon and for the republican running for the senate and the republican running for the house in my district in Nebraska.  
And I did that.  I suppose my father had -- my father had died when I was in high school.  He was a World War II veteran, but he followed politics and he was -- I'm the oldest of four boys.  My father died when he -- when I was 16.  But he influenced my thinking, I think, and my grandfather did.  Republicans.  
But I was just closer philosophically I thought to what I knew what the republican party or what I thought the republican party stood for versus the democratic party.  I mean, that's what parties are.  They're -- they're -- they're large philosophical statements about the role of government.  No more, no less.  And I identified myself as a republican in the senate.  
I caucus with republicans.  Voted -- my voting record would be -- if you -- if you go back and look at my 3500 votes, you'd -- it would be clearly, I think, a -- a republican voting record so-called as far as the philosophical lineup but I crossed the aisle many times.  And I've got the scars to prove it.  And -- but I was never conflicted by that.  So, if I'd run again, I'd run on my record, I'd run on who I am, and -- and that's the way I'd do it.

>> Student: Thank you.

>> Senator Hagel: Thank you.

>> Student: Regarding what you said earlier about your beliefs in people have to look inside and are only accountable to themselves and if environmental factors are just part of life, do you think that's a uniquely American idea or does it exist internationally as well?

>> Senator Hagel: What idea is that?

>> Student: The idea that you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps.

>> Senator Hagel: Oh.  Well, I don't know.  I'm not a sociologist, an anthropologist, or any other -ologist.  I'm not an expert on anything.  I'm a former senator. [Laughter] I think there is some uniqueness that can be attributed to our system, to our country of you can make of yourself anything you wanna make of yourself within the boundaries of your god given talents.  I've hired many, many people in my life, as many of you have, in many jobs, many capacities.  
And the one attribute that I have always found that's most important when you're hiring someone is attitude.  And you give me a mediocre student or an average thinker with the right attitude and I'll take that -- that person.  Because, if you've got the right attitude, you can do about anything.  I've seen incredible stories as you all have.  And I bet there are a lot of them right here of the right attitude can transform you -- can transform things and not much the right attitude can't prevail over.  And I think there is some Americanism in that.  I don't think we invented that.  I -- I mean, there are other stories around the world of people I see every day when you go to Africa, whether you go to Asia of incredible stories about individuals pulling themselves up in very severe situations.  But I -- I think that we can take some credit for that and I'll tell you for -- for no other reason.  We have a system that allows that.  Now the fact is -- we all know this -- we're all not -- we're all not born equal.  You know, I'm sorry but we aren't.  Height, weight, color, brains, rich, poor, Michigan, Nebraska, New York.  And I acknowledge that I got an unfair advantage in life being -- being from Nebraska.  [Laughter] But we all don't have that.  So -- so you -- we each start at our own starting gate our own way.  And I don't know of a person in my life -- and I'm 63 -- that there has not been some tragedy, something happened to that person or his family or her family.  Everybody gets a share of this.  And I know it's easy to say, well, "that person's lucky."  "That person's got it all."  "That person was born rich."  "He's never had to do anything."  Well, some people are.  But in the end -- I mean, look at Ted Kennedy.  I mean, you can take anybody and -- a tragedy with your children -- with -- with whatever.  It's -- it's what -- it's what you do -- the opportunity you have to get above that and prevail over that.  And America is, I think, unique in that -- in that sense.  That we have a system that allows you to do that.  Public education probably has been as important as any one thing in the development of this country in allowing poor people, people of all kinds of races and creeds some equality to get ahead in life.  A good public education system.  And -- and now other countries have good public education too, but our country has been consistently good.  I know there are other variations of that -- big city schools.  A lot of them we've got problems.  In Washington, D.C., huge problems.  New York does.  I -- I know about them.  We've got problems.  But just the fact if you got the right attitude, if you wanna do something with your life, and you feel it strong enough, you can do it.  You really can do it.

>> Student: Senator Hagel, I'm Josh Fengmeir [phonetic], a master student here at the Ford School, and I was an intern in your office in 2006.

>> Senator Hagel: What's your name?

>> Student: Josh Fengmeir.

>> Senator Hagel: Oh, yes, yes.  You look a lot better now.  [Laughter] 

>> Student: Thanks.

>> Senator Hagel: I think education's been helping you, yeah, so...

>> Student: It's this Michigan climate.

>> Senator Hagel: Thank you.  Yeah.  All right.  Great to see you again.  Thank you.

>> Student: Yeah.  My question is regards to last year's presidential campaign when you were one of the few members of Congress who elected to not endorse either then Senator Obama or Senator McCain even though you have a long-standing relationship -- friendship with Senator McCain 
and you accompanied Senator Obama on his trip to Afghanistan and Iraq prior to the election so I was wondering if you could kind of describe your calculations and your process in your decision to not make an endorsement?

>> Senator Hagel: Sure.  Thank you very much.  And nice to see you, again, too.  Thanks for your good work.  I'll have to go back and look at your record and... [Laughter] And I wanna talk to your teachers as well about this.  [Laughter] I didn't calculate anything.  And here's what I did.  I made a decision -- and John McCain is a very close friend.  I was co-chairman of his presidential campaign in 2000.  No one I respect more than John McCain.  But John and I -- our view of the world -- the wars, foreign policy, the people that John had around him, I just could not support that.  And John and I talked about it.  Our offices, as you remember, were right next to each other.  Our offices on the floor of the senate were right next to each other.  I -- I just couldn't -- honestly, I suppose I could quote the Jerry Ford quote.  You've got to follow your own convictions and your own conscience.  Doesn't mean I'm right, doesn't mean I'm wrong.  But that was my conviction.  That was what I believed -- that it would've been wrong to do that for me.  I just -- I couldn't do it.  I couldn't agree with John on a lot of the stuff.  And I thought the people around John were dangerous, and I didn't want to see them in power.  Now, I did not endorse Obama because I told John -- and I told Obama this -- that I would not hurt him.  I wasn't -- I was not going to go out and campaign against him and I would not endorse Obama.  Obama asked me to go, as you say, to the Middle East with him.  I did.  He asked me over the last year -- and I got to know Obama very well the last four years.  We were in the foreign relations committee together for advice.  I gave it to him.  I gave John advice.  If he asked for it, I'd give it to him.  What I did then in that political climate, that political year last year is I just turned all my attention to what I thought was right for my country and what I could do to help make a better world.  And that's the way I handled it.  I was honest with both of them, up front with both of them, told them both what the deal was.  And I talked to president -- the vice president often and general Jones.  I talked to the Vice President Sunday night and so I have opportunities to weigh in.  They do ask my advice.  I suspect I have no influence, nothing is new, but at least they humor me. [Laughter] And call me and ask me but that's why I did what I did.  Thank you.

>> Student: Senator, thank you for being here today.  A couple of years ago you sponsored a bill for comprehensive immigration reform bill that got tabled and ended up in a stalemate.  If you were to attempt such a bill with the current circumstances, what would you do differently?

>> Senator Hagel: I'm sorry.  I didn't hear.  Are you talking about an immigration reform bill?

>> Student: Yes.

>> Senator Hagel: And the question was if I was what?  If I --

>> Student: So if you were to do this again under the current circumstances, how would you do it differently?

>> Senator Hagel: Well, my immigration reform bill was I introduced the first comprehensive immigration reform bill with Tom Daschle when Daschle was the majority leader and then minority leader.  And we never could get any traction.  And then finally after -- unfortunately, after Daschle's defeated, I joined with Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama and democrats and McCain and Mel Martinez and a strong bipartisan group of senators and we actually passed the Hagel-Martinez immigration reform bill with, I think, 64 votes.  You all know we have a hundred senators.  64 votes represents a rather significant bipartisan vote.  What happened, though -- and I thought it was a good bill.  What year were you an intern in my office?

>> Student: 2006.

>> Senator Hagel: Okay.  This was right around that time.  You remember this.  The House of Representatives passed a bill that they -- they said was immigration reform but it wasn't.  It -- it was border security is really what it was.  Well, border security is not immigration reform.  I mean, you need border security, of course.  Any sovereign nation needs to secure their border, and I didn't object to any of that.  No one else did.  But to try to pass that off as immigration reform was complete folly.  It was dishonest.  First time this has ever happened that I'm aware of at least in modern times.  So you had two different bills.  Big important issue.  The speaker of the house -- then Dennis Hastert -- refused to call a conference of the two bills and that's the way -- as you all know you reconcile the differences between house and senate bills.  The speaker refused to call a conference.  So the congress just plays out, immigration reform is dead.  And I really always thought that that was such an irresponsible thing to do.  And, incidentally, as you know, President Bush was very much out in front on this immigration reform bill.  And, in fact, he was -- he was on the other side of the republican party on this -- on this.  And I was one of the first supporters of what he wanted to do and first sponsor of the comprehensive bill.  I brought him to Omaha, I remember, on this.  But the Republican party was against their own president on this but that's -- that's what happened.  If I was there today, I'd come back again and try to do -- put something back together.  I would -- I would expect that with the democrats controlling the house and the senate and -- and Obama knowing where he is -- because he was a co-sponsor of my bill -- that -- that next year they may try to move something on immigration reform.  Obviously, this year there's not much time left this year and they've got a couple of other fairly significant issues that they're -- that they're dealing with.  Thank you.

>> Student: Thank you.

>> Student: Thank you very much, Senator.  You've talked a lot about establishing common ground.  And I was wondering how do you go about that in what so often seems a polarized society?  For instance, we have so many governments that seem uninterested in doing so.

>> Senator Hagel: Well, I think it's like anything when you're trying to develop a relationship with someone or institutions or whatever the situation.  When you talk about common ground, common interests, you find what is important to that other person and you try to blend that priority or priorities of the other person with your priorities and with this guy's priorities and this lady's priorities and so on and so on.  And -- and you can find those kind of -- kind of things.  Health care.  My goodness.  Next to water and food and oxygen, I don't know what is more common ground than health care for everybody.  Richer -- richer or poorer.  Everybody gets something.  I mean, none of us are going live forever I don't think.  There's always something.  And I don't know really other than those three things I mentioned what's more common ground than health care.  And it ought to be at least simple enough to move forward on trying to figure this thing out on identifying that common ground.  So you find those bands of interests and commonality that you can blend together that Jerry Ford did so skillfully in his years in the house and you try to make that work.  It will be imperfect.  There is some sanding down and it's never exactly the way you want it.  I never saw a bill ever come out of a committee I was on or in the -- in the senate that I voted for or voted against.  That -- that was in my mind 100% ideal.  That I could not improve on that bill.  I -- I just never saw one.  Now, that doesn't mean that I'm right.  That doesn't mean I would've improved it.  Maybe I would've made it worse.  But, in my own mind, I -- if I had a chance to rewrite that bill, I would've rewritten at least parts -- every one of them.  So you've got to find that but the -- I go back to the answer of the question over here about attitude.  
If your attitude is wrong, if your reference point is wrong, if your intention is to use health care to destroy the other party or destroy the presidency or Barack Obama, it is very unlikely you're going to find much consensus from people who want to use health care as some republican senators have said publicly.  If we kill Obama on this and we destroy this and we defeat him, that will drive a stake through his political heart on this administration.  I just find that about as irresponsible a thing that I can think of.  And I'd say democrat, republican, it doesn't make any difference.  I mean, what are you there for?  Okay.

>> Susan: Unfortunately, we're going to have to make this our last question.

>> Senator Hagel: All right.


>> Student: In the search for someone to blame for the economic crisis, a lot of people have put the blame on the CEOs with the golden parachutes pushing for deregulation and I -- as a businessman, what -- to what extent do you think this is true and they do bear the blame?

>> Senator Hagel: Well, I think there's no question that the leaders of our financial service industry have to take a tremendous amount of responsibility for what happened, and I don't think it's even debatable; so do regulators in Washington; so do all of us.  You know, I sat on the banking committee for 12 years, and I watched this nonsense unfold.  Now it doesn't mean I have a better view or I'm smarter than anybody else.  But, for example, I watched the ratings agencies rate the IPOs and rate the stocks for investors -- Moody's, S&P, so on -- come before our committee.  And I would ask -- I'd ask this question more than once.  How can we or an investor have any confidence in your rating of a stock or a bond when you're getting millions of dollars in consulting fees, in advisory fees from that same company that you're rating?  I don't think that's complicated to understand that, but maybe it is.  I don't think so.  That is as pure a conflict of interest as I can envision.  But the culture we allow to develop -- we all do.  The media played with it.  The media was lazy.  The regulators were lazy.  I mean, the Bernie Madoff thing now we know that how many times the FCC investigators looked at Madoff's stuff and said, "wow, you know, it may be a little unorthodox.  It's fine."  My god, how can he continue to do this.  There were so many people that were going to the enforcement division of the FCC and said this guy is up to something.  This is a clear, fraudulent pyramid scheme.  That you got to do something.  "Well, I don't know."  "But he's a buddy of one of the -- one of the guys up on top" and so on.  You know, we all have to take responsibility here.  And the financial service people certainly do, and I probably give them the edge on who I would put most responsibility on.  It would be them.  And what is astounding to me -- and I know many of them and I'm on some advisory boards at some of these different companies -- but none of the bad ones -- but is how they're so disconnected -- so many of them -- from America when they can't understand why Americans are so upset.  Well, why are Americans so upset?  I -- you know, I said, well, wait a minute.  For most Americans, this is not a complicated issue.  Most Americans play by the rules.  They pay their taxes.  They work hard.  They try to raise their families.  They try to live a decent life, and they have a couple of things that -- that they like whether it's church, synagogue, music, baseball, bowling, whatever it is.  And they see you guys in New York doing these obscene things.  The wealth is just obscene.  There's no other way to say it.  And then you crash the system.  And then these same decent people all over America have to bail you out with their tax dollars and you don't understand why people are upset?  Now there's two issues here.  One is institutions.  And I was there up until January and was in most all those meetings with Bernanke and all of them.  And I don't think Bernanke and Bush and Paulson and Geithner and Obama had any choice.  You had to save the institutions.  Because, if those financial service institutions went down, that would collapse the entire financial system in the world.  I mean, you talk about chaos and instability.  The other piece -- so one was the institutions.  The other piece were the individuals.  Now a lot of these individuals are being picked off and they're leaving and gone and some are being indicted.  Some will go to jail before this is all over.  And the law will catch -- justice will catch up with many of them.  Just like when the Enron explosion occurred and WorldCom.  You know, a lot of those guys are still in jail.  And on some of the baby bells that these guys were buying these things on loading up leverage and debt and then just ripping everything apart and then selling off pieces.  Just destroying the companies, destroying people's lives.  And so, you know, we're going through a very difficult part of this, but I think what will come out of this and it will be difficult.  We will come out of it.  It's painful.  It's unfair to a lot of people.  But what will come out of it will be a better system, a more responsible accountable system, and we'll be stronger for it.  There will be a lot of people hurt that shouldn't be hurt and it'll be unfair.  But, in the end, we'll come out of it and it'll be better.  And I talk about our young people here -- the students.  This will condition them.  This will frame their reference -- their point of reference in everything they do until they die.  This experience.  Watching is experience.  Watching what their parents went through and all the rest.  They will never forget that.  This is one of the reasons we talk about the greatest generation.  I mean, that World War II generation they were defined by they're anchored by the Great Depression.  My mother and my father went through it.  My mother's -- my mother was one of seven girls.  Her dad had an old scrubby farm out in western Nebraska.  He lost it in the depression.  I mean, that's not an unusual story.  A lot of people had the same thing happen to them as my mother did.  For my father, the same story.  But that conditioned them.  And this  group of young people will be conditioned by the same thing.  But thank you very much.  Thank you.


[ Applause ]


>> Susan: Thank you very much, Senator Hagel for your candor and sharing your insightful perspectives with us.  We appreciate it greatly.  I'd like to invite all of you to stay and join us for a reception that will be held right here in this room.  We actually have food and beverages on either side.  And I know there are some who did not get to ask questions, but we do now have a more informal time to have some interaction.  So, again, thank you very much for joining us for our 2009 Citigroup lecture.  And thank you, Senator Hagel.


[ Applause ]