Washington – A retired Brigadier General with extensive experience incounter insurgency operations, a veteran of the Iraq war, a leading national security analyst and representatives from groups leading the effort to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, held a press conference call with national reporters today to react to the comments by U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN,Senior Ranking Republican, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and GeorgeVoinovich (R-OH, Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) this week calling President Bush’s policy in Iraq a failure and calling on the President to withdrawal troops from Iraq.
All the participants in today’s call welcomed the new found positions of Sens.Lugar and Voinovich in favor of withdrawing troops from Iraq, called on them to match their words with actions when key votes on the future of Iraq policy are cast on the floor of the Senate, said the September time frame for assessing the policy in Iraq is now moot and that eyes are now on the position of U.S.Senator John Warner (R-VA), the senior ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee who is scheduled to visit Iraq next week.
Participants also said other GOP Senators will feel the heat to reevaluate their positions in light of this weeks events, including Sens. Collins and Snowe of Maine, Specter of Pennsylvania, McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader, Coleman of Minnesota, Sununu and Gregg of New Hampshire, Domenici of NewMexico, and Grassley of Iowa.
Brigadier General John Johns, (USA, ret), who has extensive experience in counter insurgency doctrine from 26 years in the Army including service in Vietnam,said the President’s escalation strategy was doomed to failure from the outset and that we did not need until September to reach that conclusion.
"I am happy to see more Republicans standing up to the President and I am waiting for my senator, Senator Warner, to join with these other senators," said Johns. "There must be continuous pressure on the President to stop this ill-fated adventure."
BrainKatulis, a national security expert with the Center for American ProgressAction Fund called Senator Lugar’s speech this week historic and saidthat it had immediately reordered the debate over the future of Iraqpolicy.
“Senator Lugar’s speech renders theSeptember reports from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crockerirrelevant,” said Katulis. “Senators Lugar and Voinovich arejoining progressives and a growing consensus of Americans who recognize Iraq’s grim realities and the fact that U.S. military action cannot settle Iraq’smultiple internal conflicts.”
Jon Soltz, an Iraqwar veteran and founder of VoteVets.org offered: "What is happeningis what troops and veterans have been asking for, for a long time - for membersof the President's own party to start to speak honestly about what thesituation is in Iraqand what needs to change. While we're grateful, we're not satisfiedyet. These Senators and the others to come must back their words up withaction. They must vote the right way, or they'll just be paying lipservice to the needs of those who are risking their lives in service to America."
Tom Matzzie, the Washington Director of MoveOn.org Political Actionand the Campaign Manager for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI) saidthat Lugar and Voinovich’s calls for withdrawing troops, combined withthe activity of AAEI’s Iraq Summer effort targeting 40 members in 15states will increase heat on Republican Members of Congress to abandon Bush onthe war.
"We are turning the voices of 2/3 of the American public into anorganizing machine to pressure members of congress who can make a difference onthe war,” said Matzzie. “We are using a blend of: cuttingedge online organizing, paid and earned media, old school grass rootsorganizing, volunteer operations, sign waving and bird-dogging to givemembers of Congress a choice: vote to end the war or face politicalextinction."
"IfSenator Lugar's newfound position on the war was a tsunami washing over theIraq debate, Senator Voinovich's call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq wasan earthquake of seismic proportions shaking the very foundations of PresidentBush’s failed policy in Iraq," said Brad Woodhouse, President ofAmericans United for Change. "In less than 24 hours two of the mostrespected Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and two ofPresident Bush's biggest backers in Congress, have declared his Iraq policy anabysmal failure and have said responsibly withdrawing U.S. troops is the onlyviable alternative left. President Bush’s support for his failedwar policies in Iraqare in free fall on Capitol Hill. Now, all eyes are on Senator Warner andother key Republicans in the Senate and in the House to, as Senators Lugar andVoinovich have begun to do, put the reality on the ground in Iraq ahead ofloyalty to President Bush and call for the responsible redeployment of ourfighting men and women out off harm’s way.”