(CNSNews.com) - Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) says the United States needs to "change direction" in Iraq -- because "we can't win a war like this."
Murtha, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, said he's concerned about the financial and emotional costs of the war, not to mention the way it's being conducted:
"We're not fighting this war," Murtha said, referring to officials in Washington who sit in air-conditioned offices. "One percent of the American people, these young men and women are fighting this war, with heavy packs, with 70 pounds of equipment, with helmets on in 130 degrees. That's who's fighting this war."
Murtha also criticized the Bush administration's "stay the course" argument, complaining that it "doesn't solve any problem."
"There's no plan," Murtha complained. According to Murtha, the situation in Iraq is worse now than it was six months ago, in terms of living conditions for the people.
Murtha again called for the redeployment of U.S. troops: "We don't have to be right there [in Iraq]," Murtha said. "We can go to Okinawa... our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly." He said the targeted killing of terror leader Musab al Zarqawi could have been done "from the outside."
Murtha insisted that U.S. troops are caught in the middle of a civil war - and he listed two reasons why it's "essential" to "change direction" in Iraq:
"One is the troops themselves and what they're going through and the fact that 42 percent of them don't even know what the mission is. And the second thing is the long-term stability of this country, our inability to prevent another war because we don't have the resources. A $50 billion dollar backlog of equipment shortages and so forth...At some point you just have to change direction.
"And if you're not winning, if you're losing, and that's what's happening. We're, we're-when I say losing, we're, we're losing ground over there, and we have inadequate forces."
Murtha complained that the U.S. went into Iraq without a valid reason. "We didn't have a threat to our national security," he said. He said the Bush administration didn't send enough troops to win the peace - and it lacked an exit strategy.
The Republican National Committee accused Rep. Murtha of wanting to take the U.S. in the wrong direction:
"Today, Congressman John Murtha continued to demonstrate an inability to comprehend that surrendering the central front in the War on Terror is not a strategy to defeat the terrorists," the RNC said in a statement on Sunday.
"Murtha Democrats believe America can't win in Iraq by taking the fight to the terrorists on the ground, but seem to think retreating and fighting from places like Okinawa can achieve victory.
"John Murtha can focus his attacks on the commander-in-chief; however President Bush and Republicans will focus on taking the fight to those who intend to do us harm."
The RNC listed some of the progress made in Iraq, seven months after Murtha first called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops:
More than 40,000 more Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, the RNC said; Iraqi security forces have taken the lead in 30,000 square miles of Iraq; Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq, is dead; and information gathered at Zarqawi's safe house has resulted in 452 raids, 104 insurgents killed, 28 arms caches found, and 759 people captured.
In Congress, the debate on the Iraq war will continue this week, as congressional Democrats introduce a resolution calling for a phased withdrawal of troops.
The Boston Globe reported that Democratic Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan plan to introduce a resolution on Monday demanding that President Bush begin reducing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq this year.
The resolution does not say where the troops should go - or how many might come home, the report said.
See Earlier Story:
Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question (Jan. 13, 2006)
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