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Hagel On Escalation: ‘The Most Dangerous Foreign Policy Blunder in this Country Since Vietnam’

By Payson Schwin on January 11, 2007 at 2:09 pm

"Hagel On Escalation: ‘The Most Dangerous Foreign Policy Blunder in this Country Since Vietnam’"

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Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) passionately argued against President Bush’s escalation plan during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today.

During questioning of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Hagel called the new strategy “morally wrong” and “tactically, strategically, militarily wrong,” and declared, “I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.” Audience members in the hearing room clapped as Hagel concluded, “I will resist it.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/01/Hagel_Iraq.320.240.flv]

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Transcript:

I think what the president said last night — and I listened carefully and read through it again this morning — is all about a broadened American involvement — escalation — in Iraq and the Middle East. I do not agree with that escalation.

And I would further note that when you say, as you have here this morning, that we need to address and help the Iraqis and pay attention to the fact that Iraqis are being killed, Madam Secretary, Iraqis are killing Iraqis. We are in a civil war. This is sectarian violence out of control; Iraqi on Iraqi.

Worst, it is inner-sectarian violence; Shia killing Shia.

To ask our young men and women to sacrifice their lives to be put in the middle of a civil war is wrong.

It’s, first of all, in my opinion, morally wrong. It’s tactically, strategically, militarily wrong.

[Snip]

When you were engaging Chairman Biden on this issue on the specific question of, Will our troops go into Iran or Syria in pursuit, based on what the president said last night?, you cannot sit here today — not because you’re dishonest or you don’t understand — but no one in our government can sit here today and tell Americans that we won’t engage the Iranians and the Syrians cross-border.

Some of us remember 1970, Madam Secretary. And that was Cambodia. And when our government lied to the American people and said, We didn’t cross the border going into Cambodia, in fact we did. I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee.

So, Madam Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the president is talking about here, it’s very, very dangerous. As a matter of fact, I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam — if it’s carried out.

I will resist it.

(APPLAUSE)

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