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Retired general: Iraq invasion was 'strategic disaster'

By Evan Lehman 

09/30/05 "The Lowell Sun"
-- -- WASHINGTON -- The invasion of Iraq was the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history,” a retired Army general said yesterday, strengthening an effort in Congress to force an American withdrawal beginning next year., Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, said the invasion of Iraq alienated America's Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists. 

The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, he said, and reposition its military forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border to capture Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda cells. 

“The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history,” said Odom, now a scholar with the Hudson Institute. 

Homeward Bound, a bipartisan resolution with 60 House co-sponsors, including Lowell Rep. Marty Meehan, requests President Bush to announce plans for a draw-down by December, and begin withdrawing troops by October 2006. 

The measure has not been voted on, nor has the House Republican leadership scheduled hearings. But supporters were encouraged yesterday, pointing to growing support among moderate conservatives and the public's rising dissatisfaction with the war. 

Meehan, one of the first to propose a tiered exit strategy in January, when few of his Democratic colleagues dared wade into the controversial debate, pointed to “enormous progress.” 

“Talking about this issue, having hearings on this issue, getting more Americans to focus on it will result in a change of policy,” Meehan told The Sun. “The generals and commanders on the field in Iraq overwhelmingly are saying we need less in terms of occupation and more Iraqis up front, and that's the only strategy I think that will result in getting American troops back home.” 

© 1999-2005 MediaNews Group, Inc.

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