November 16, 2007

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian President Bashar Assad (AP)

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), November 8, 2007:

“Our differences with Iran are real. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and continues to provide material support to Hezbollah and Hamas. The President of Iran publicly threatens Israel’s existence and is attempting to develop the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has not helped stabilize the current chaos in Iraq and is responsible for weapons and explosives being used against U.S. military forces in Iraq.

"Yet, America’s military might alone cannot successfully address these challenges or achieve any level of sustainable stability with Iran. The United States must employ a comprehensive strategy that uses all of its tools of influence within its foreign policy arsenal– political, diplomatic, economic, cultural, and military. …

"By refusing to engage Iran in direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks, we are perpetuating dangerous geo-political unpredictabilities. Our refusal to recognize Iran’s influence does not decrease its influence, but rather increases it. Diplomacy is an essential tool to ratchet down the pressure of conflict, increase the leverage of strength and create dialogue and opportunities to identify common interests… Continued hostile relations between the United States and Iran will have the effect of isolating the United States as countries in the region move around us to address their own national interests… We are captive to the lowest common denominator of ‘who can talk the toughest’ and who is the ‘meanest cowboy on the block.’ That kind of rhetoric…political as it may be…will only drive the world further away from America and deepen a world crisis…that we may not be able to recover from.”



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