Bush's War Worries
BYLINE: Massimo Calabresi, With reporting by Sally B. Donnelly; J.F.O. McAllister
Of all the people to turn on George Bush's war in Iraq, Representative Walter Jones was among the least likely. A conservative Republican whose North Carolina district includes the massive Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune, Jones led the charge to convert French fries into "freedom fries" in Capitol Hill cafeterias after France refused to support the war. But last week Jones co-sponsored legislation calling on Bush to declare victory and start bringing the troops home by October 2006. Jones, who has written more than 1,300 letters to families of killed service members, says, "What else is there left for America to do? I think the American people are going to see this resolution as worthy."
Congress may not. But polls show that the public is growing increasingly restive: 50% of Americans think the U.S. should keep troops in Iraq, down from 55% in February, according to a Pew poll. The Administration has also been put on the defensive by the so-called Downing Street memo, a set of minutes of a July 2002 meeting held by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In it, then British intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove asserted that during a recent visit to Washington he found that "military action [in Iraq] was now seen as inevitable" and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." The memo adds significantly to other pieces of evidence that Bush was intending war while talking diplomacy--though Blair and other Administration defenders argue that while Bush was clearly making preparations for war, it could have been averted had Saddam complied fully with U.N. demands.
Still, a turning point on the war may be approaching. One sign is the apprehensiveness of military men like General John Abizaid, U.S. Central Command chief. "We are being successful," he said last week. "I have never met a soldier in the field who has not expressed confidence about the mission. But I'm increasingly having a hard time in Washington finding people who have confidence in the mission." --By Massimo Calabresi. With reporting by Sally B. Donnelly and J.F.O. McAllister
GRAPHIC: COLOR PHOTO: JOE RAEDLE--GETTY, Jones, right, with Dennis Kucinich