Earlier this month, retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis told us that North Korea is the biggest foreign policy challenge facing the United States today. Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson asked Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary, if he agreed. Here’s what he said:
“Well, I’m not sure I’d make that the biggest challenge. But I think any time a nation is at war — and we are at war, by the way. We have boots on the ground and about five countries that are in hostile action right now, including Afghanistan. That’s got to be a priority for a president of the United States. Anytime your country is involved in shooting wars, and you have casualties — and we are taking causalities. That seems to me the first priority.
“North Korea is a priority, it’s an important priority. But it’s certainly the Middle East. China’s behavior and activity in the East and South China Sea. It’s our economy, it’s trade. It’s putting a Congress, hopefully together, that works with a president to actually start governing. We haven’t governed in this country for a long time — we didn’t even pass an appropriations this year, which is astounding to me. We haven’t passed budgets in years. When I got to the Senate 20 years ago, those were just responsibilities and things you did because you were there for a higher purpose — to help govern. You compromised. You worked with people. We’ve allowed politics to get personal. We vilify each other. We’ve got to stop that.
“The foreign policy challenges are immense and they’re interconnected. The president is not going to have any time on this — the new president is going to have to get right into it.”