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Why Senator John McCain is ready to vote ‘no’ on a fellow Republican Vietnam vet

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, asks a question of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, center, President Barack Obama's choice for defense secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member of the committee, listens at left. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On Thursday, Senator John McCain lit into Senator Chuck Hagel, the President’s pick to be secretary of defense – because of what Hagel said about Iraq in 2007.

“Were you correct or incorrect when you said, ‘the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.’ Were you correct or incorrect?” asked McCain.

Hagel is saying he wasn’t even talking about the troop surge. OK let’s go back to 2007. Sen. Hagel is addressing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: Said Hagel in 2007, “This speech, given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.”

So he was referred to a speech President George W. Bush had made the previous night, when he announced the troop surge.

In that 2007 speech, President Bush said, “So I’ve committed 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.”

But President Bush also implied the war could expand beyond Iraq. “This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria and we will seek and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

Which to Hagel, apparently sounded too much like 1970 – when Richard Nixon bombed Cambodia, expanding the Vietnam War – the war in which Hagel was wounded twice – and during which McCain was a POW.

And we still can’t agree on its lessons.

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