Hagel Provides Timely Insight at Jones Tamm Lecture

Bob Bennett and Chuck HagelFormer Secretary of Defense Charles “Chuck” Hagel spoke to the University of Montana community April 5 as part of the Blewett School of Law’s prestigious Judge William B. Jones and Judge Edward A. Tamm Judicial Lecture in the Dennison Theatre.

Hagel, the first non-lawyer to give the lecture, stressed the importance of the rule of law as a central tenant of American democracy and an example to the rest of the world. A former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, Hagel also served in the Reagan administration and as secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

His visit to UM occurred in a week when the Trump administration stated all options were on the table in dealing with North Korea. Hagel acknowledged that dealing with North Korea had posed a challenging dilemma for many administrations, but indicated that engagement was a necessary component of foreign policy.

In a candid interview format conversation, with Robert “Bob” S. Bennett of Washington, D.C., moderating, Hagel focused his remarks on the breakdown of civility in Washington, noting any institution is only as good as the people who serve in it. It is his belief that there has been a loss of a common purpose in Washington, a hallmark of earlier generations who served in Congress, in particular the WWII generation. He lamented the continuing breakdown in the way members of the U.S. Senate treat one another, noting the recently eschewed but longstanding rule of the chamber that senators not call each other by name on the floor, lest the debate become personal.

Hagel also answered questions from the audience on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the role of organized religion in war to the state of America’s police departments. As part of his visit, Hagel participated in classes across campus and met for lunch with the law school faculty.

Hagel’s latest book, “America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers,” was published in 2008.