04/07/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hagel: 'Arrogance, Incompetence' Fuel Bush's Run To War

Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who will not seek a new term in the Senate, continues to offer some of the most potent criticism of the Iraq War out there. Asked by Late Edition's Wolf Blitzer to elaborate on a passage from his book, America: Our Next Chapter, Hagel offers up a brand of "straight talk" that's less obtuse and obsequious that the stuff being pimped by another Republican I could name:

BLITZER: All right. I just want to read one quote from the book because it's a powerful quote. And get your explanation. "So why did we invade Iraq? I believe it was the triumph of the so-called neoconservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice. They obviously made a convincing case to a president with very limited national security and foreign policy experience, who keenly felt the burden of leading the nation in the wake of the deadliest terror attack ever on American soil." But the words "arrogance" and "incompetence" jumped out at me. Do you want to elaborate what you meant by writing those words?

HAGEL: Sure. I did write those words and I meant it and I still mean it, and I think it was arrogance and incompetence that put this country in such a hole around the world. Arrogance meaning they wouldn't listen to anyone. They didn't listen to our allies. Every major leader in the Middle East that I talked to, and I certainly know the President and others talked to before we invaded Iraq, warned the President, warned the Vice President, warned Secretary Powell not to do this. Even a number of senior Israeli officials warned them not to do it. Members of Congress asked questions, I was among one those, who said wait a minute, slow down, let the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency officials finish their job. Slow this train down. They wouldn't listen to anybody. It was just raw arrogance. Incompetence? I think it was incompetence, they wouldn't look at history, that part of the world. The complications the combustability, they didn't factor in the context of consequences for their actions to get us into a war. I quote Eisenhower in the book, he said this in the 1950s, that America should never put American troops in the Middle East. Don't get bogged down in that kind of a war. Other great leaders have said the same thing. and there was both, in my opinion, arrogance and incompetence that led us into this.