Two Republican senators call for new approach in Iraq
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Two leading Republican senators called Sunday for a new strategy in Iraq, saying the situation is getting worse and leaving the United States with few options.
Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Warner of Virginia are part of the growing list of Republicans who are speaking out against President Bush's plan for Iraq as U.S. casualties rise.
"The American people are not going to continue to support, sustain a policy that puts American troops in the middle of a civil war," Hagel said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Hagel said he agreed with Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said after a recent visit to Iraq that Iraq was "drifting sideways." Warner has urged consideration of a change of course if the Iraq government fails to restore order over the next two or three months.
Warner said Sunday that he stands by that assessment and that even in the week since his trip to Iraq, there has been an "exponential increase in the killings and the savagery that's going on over there."
"You can see some movement forward, but a lot of movement back," Warner said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "We have to rethink all the options, except any option which says we precipitously pull out, which would let that country fall into a certain civil war at that time, and all of the neighboring countries would be destabilized."
Bush said last week that he invites a change in strategy if the plan isn't working. But he also said the U.S. will not leave until the job is done.
Hagel said it is time to change course, but "our options are limited."
"We need to find a new strategy, a way out of Iraq, because the entire Middle East is more combustible than it's been probably since 1948, and more dangerous," Hagel said. "And we're in the middle of it."
Democrats long have urged a change in policy. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the leading Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said there is "no military solution to this conflict" and the United States must pressure Iraqis to take over their country.
"If they're going to have a civil war, they're going to have to do it without us," Levin said on CNN. "This is long overdue. We've got to focus Iraqi leadership attention on this by telling them we need to begin a phased redeployment of American troops from Iraq within the next few months."
Developments in Iraq
• Iraq's government indefinitely postponed a much-anticipated national-reconciliation conference Sunday as a two-day spree of sectarian revenge killings and insurgent bombings left at least 86 Iraqis dead. The government said only that the gathering, planned for Saturday, had been put off for "emergency reasons."
• The U.S. military reported that three Marines and four soldiers were killed in the period from Friday through Sunday.
• A militant network that includes al-Qaida in Iraq announced Sunday that it had established an Islamic state in six provinces, a propaganda push in its drive to force the withdrawal of U.S. forces and topple the Iraqi government. The Mujahedeen Shura Council said the new state comprised six provinces including Baghdad that have large Sunni populations, along with parts of two other central provinces that are predominantly Shiite.
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