By Hayes Brown posted from ThinkProgress Security on Jan 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm
The confirmation hearing of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to take on the role of Secretary of Defense already sure to be testy heated up with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pointedly asking Hagel to justify his stance on the Iraq War.
McCain, an ardent supporter of the Iraq War from the start, began his questioning of Hagel by asking about the latters past statements regarding the so-called surge of forces into Iraq in 2007. Hagel, by then a vocal critic of the war, came out strongly against adding additional troops to the conflict soon after the policys announcement just like President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had calling it the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.
Hagel didnt back away from previous statements, saying Senator, I stand by them, because I made them. When McCain continued to push Hagel, refusing to allow him to offer a nuanced response to the question of the surge, the Nebraska Republican shot back, noting that the surge tactic took place in the wider context of the most dangerous decision since Vietnam:
MCCAIN: Are you going to answer the question? Were you right or wrong? Thats a straightforward question. Answer whether you are right or wrong and then you are free to elaborate.
HAGEL: Im not going to give you a yes or no answer.
MCCAIN: Let the record show he refuses to answer the question. Please go ahead.
HAGEL: Im not going to give you a yes or no. Its far more complicated than that. I will defer that judgment to history. As to the comment I made about the most dangerous foreign policy decision since Vietnam, that was about not just the surge, but the overall war of choice going into Iraq. That particular decision made on the surge, but more to the point, our war in Iraq, I think was the most fundamentally bad, dangerous decision since Vietnam.
Watch their exchange here: