Former defense secretary comments on state of world affairs

by Britteny Johnson, Features/Perspectives Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Former Nebraska Senator and Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel spoke at the seventh annual Culver Lecture. The lecture was put on by the Culver Public Policy Center for an almost full house of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members.

During his lecture, Hagel expressed his opinions on the current political and world relations.

“We tend to overlook occasionally, and sometimes more than occasionally, what is right in the world,” Hagel said.

As the night went on Hagel touched on topics such as: learning from one another, having the capacity to self-correct, his stance on North Korea, and much more. When it comes to learning from one another Hagel wants people to look back on history and learn from our past.

“We all have something to learn from each other, I think that, this is the greatest country, greatest for many reasons,” Hagel said. “I bring back the rudimentary history lesson that everybody in this room knows, because we overlook that. We don’t recognize, or take inventory, of the tremendous value of our country, of our people, of our structures, and our constitution.”

Simpson and Culver Fellow alum, Nick Laning, came back to the event after being invited to a dinner with Hagel beforehand. Laning said that what he took away most from both the dinner with Hagel and the lecture was putting your constituents and your values above party and president.

“I think the idea of putting your constituents, your values, and what you think is best above your party, above your president, above anything else,” Laning said. “Making decisions based on your beliefs and what is best for the country rather than what is best for your party. This is something we have lost.”

Laning said that more students should come to events like the Culver Lecture during their time on campus.

“I think these sort of events are super important, because engaging and understanding issues will solve a lot of the problems that we’re facing today. A lot of people don’t understand our issues and then they vote not understanding issues and then we get a system that is super polarized,” Laning said.

Jailyn Seabrooks, first-year Culver Fellow, stood as the only student to ask a question of the former senator about his stance on the Iraq War being different from his political party’s stance. His response was met with much applause.

“I never approached a decision when I was in the Senate or as Secretary of Defense on a basis of what my party thinks,” Hagel said.

Both Hagel and Seth Andersen, Culver Public Policy Center Director, mentioned that for those interested in learning more about what Hagel spoke about and the Vietnam war, they can check out the Ken Burns documentary appearing soon on PBS.