• Chuck Hagel

  • Marty Caivano

    Stefan Quan helps to arrange flags along the sidewalk leading to the University of Colorado's Macky Auditorium on Monday morning to kick off the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs.



BOULDER, Colo. –

The 2003 keynote speaker at the Conference on World Affairs, Tim Wirth, represented Colorado in Congress as a Democrat.

Arianna Huffington, 2004, used to be a Republican, but by no stretch would she be labeled one now.

Middle East experts Judith Kipper and Wendy Chamberlin, 2007 and 2008, aren’t easily labeled as either.

Pulitzer prize-winning conservative-columnist Charles Krauthammer, 2005, has probably been the closest-to-Republican keynote speaker at the CWA, in recent years, and his editor at the Washington Post called his column “independent and hard to peg politically … You never know what is going to happen next.”

But this year, the University of Colorado’s annual conference in notoriously left-leaning Boulder will feature a genuine Republican who recently served two terms as such in the U.S. Senate, representing a red state where McCain trounced Obama in November’s election: Nebraska.

“He is a Republican from a conservative state,” said conference director Jim Palmer. “He was a distinguished and influential senator when he was in the Senate — experienced and articulate. … He is also an independent-minded thinker.”

In fact, Chuck Hagel, who left the Senate in January, is looking forward to his opportunity to speak in Colorado’s liberal stronghold. His keynote address, titled “Twenty-first Century International Relations,” kicks off the conference Monday morning. The 61st annual CWA runs through Friday on CU’s campus.

“The University of Colorado has done a really superb job over the years of developing the conference into a thoughtful opportunity to exchange views about the world,” Hagel said in an interview last week. “I’d like to think that’s the role of progressive and relevant educational institutions. … I look forward to the exchange of ideas while I’m there.”

In many ways, Hagel fits the Republican mold. He’s pro-business and anti-big government. He’s pro-life and supports school prayer. But in the international arena, Hagel has gained notoriety for his criticism of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan and for his refusal last year to endorse his colleague, friend and fellow Vietnam veteran John McCain for president.

Hagel has called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, more attention to the fight in Afghanistan and unconditional talks with Iran. He also, at different times, has called the situation in Iraq “beyond pitiful,” Bush’s campaign tactics “filthy,” and Sarah Palin “arguably the thinnest-resume candidate for vice president in the history of America,” earning him reproaches from his Republican colleagues that included words like “traitor” and “disgusting.”

During Hagel’s time in the Senate, he nurtured his passion for international affairs, educating himself as he served on the Foreign Relations committee. Now, he leads the non-partisan Atlantic Council, which promotes “constructive U.S. leadership” in foreign affairs.

And given the choice to speak on any topic, Hagel will use his hour to talk about America’s role in the emerging new world order.

“I intend to talk about the world today,” he said. “The world we’re living in is experiencing an historic re-orientation. It is redefining itself at a rate that is unprecedented in human history.”

Hagel, who supports President Obama’s foreign-policy direction so far, believes U.S. engagement with other countries is crucial, and engagement, he said, is not the same as appeasement.

But while conference organizers expect Hagel “to speak his mind” on political issues, don’t expect the Nebraska Cornhuskers fan to speak too forthrightly about college football. He prefers to keep the “pigskin hyperbole” to a minimum while visiting CU.

“I’m always very delicate about that,” he said. “Especially when Nebraska won the last game.”

Conference on World Affairs (CWA)

Conference on World Affairs

The 61st annual Conference on World Affairs runs Monday through Friday on the University of Colorado campus.

For more news on the CWA, see DailyCamera.com’s Special Section and Archive.

For a full schedule of events and participant bios, visit colorado.edu/cwa.


Archived comments

be careful boulder, you might learn something here.


4/5/2009 4:07:27 PM

Sounds like a good move. Bring in a Republican who has actually served and legislated vs. an angry right-leaning “commentator” (e.g., anyone from Faux News).


4/5/2009 4:21:07 PM

Hagel is no unhinged dittohead … which will no doubt disappoint our local wingnuts.


4/5/2009 4:56:08 PM

“notoriously left-leaning Boulder”

Yea right! The understatement of the year.

The very fact that a “conservative” leading speaker at the CWA is front page “breaking news” says that Boulder is a lot more then “left-leaning”.


4/5/2009 5:20:02 PM

bobcat77, I am left-leaning in the most notorious sort of way! 😛

(Now my real comment)

If ever there were such a thing as a progressive conservative, Sen. Hagel is it.


4/5/2009 5:32:48 PM

Bobcat77-It’s a real shame the world doesn’t work the way you think it should.But, giving every appearance you’re going through life bitter and unhappy because of that reality is nobody’s fault but yours.

The very fact you refer to Hagel as a “conservative” says that you’re a lot more than “right-leaning.”


4/5/2009 7:46:01 PM

“Genuine Republican”?Ha!Good one, Laura.Seriously, I like the little bit of humor you injected into the article.Thanks for having a light touch!


4/5/2009 8:13:41 PM

Say “unhinged dittohead” and bobcat appears.


4/5/2009 10:50:40 PM

Posted by Dr_Johnson:

“Say “unhinged dittohead” and bobcat appears.”

Say Conservative and DJ shouts, “unhinged dittohead”.

The poster boy for the “open minded”, “compassionate”, “equality” Liberal.


4/6/2009 6:19:16 AM

Big thinking lefties all proud of themselves bringing in a token.

CWA is a joke.


4/6/2009 6:22:01 AM


“The very fact you refer to Hagel as a “conservative” says that you’re a lot more than “right-leaning.””

That’s right. I never claimed otherwise.


4/6/2009 7:01:17 AM

Maybe next year they can get a farther right conservative like Hannity, Rush, or O’Reilly?

Sarah Palin?


4/6/2009 7:25:31 AM

I would’ve said refreshingly left-leaning, not “notoriously”. Seriously, haven’t we seen enough of what the right-leaning politicians do? How can left-leaning be in any way construed as a negative thing now?


4/6/2009 8:03:31 AM

“That’s right. I never claimed otherwise.”

He’s an unhinged dittohead, like most of the sad, masochistic right winguts who hang around the forums.


4/6/2009 8:15:00 AM

This story reported that Chuck Hagel was pro-choice. He is, in fact, pro-life. The error has been corrected.

–Laura Snider


4/6/2009 9:11:46 AM

The nomenclature itself is inherently biased.


4/6/2009 10:32:04 AM

Hagel’s company owned the voting machines that tallied his “victory.” There were numerous irregularities and obvious discrepancies in the count. But what does it matter in a country run by corporate prostitutes. The argument over left and right in the US is a joke. They are the left and right wings of the same party. This should be obvious to anyone following the “bailout.” The narrowness of the CWA invitees make the conference irrelevant.


4/6/2009 2:34:17 PM

The narrowness of the political fringes make them irrelevant.


4/6/2009 3:02:31 PM

What would a conservative possibly know or care about “International Relations”?


4/6/2009 4:44:31 PM