US 'Losing in Iraq' - Republican Senator Hagel 


06/19/05 "AFP"
- - Republican Senator Chuck Hagel slammed the George W. Bush administration's Iraq policy as "disconnected from reality" in some of the harshest comments to date about the war from a member of the president's own party.

Hagel, a top Senate Republican said to have presidential aspirations, said in an interview in US News and World Report, set to hit newsstands Monday, that US troops are "losing" the Iraq war, and that "things aren't getting better, they're getting worse."

"The White House is completely disconnected from reality," said Hagel. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq," said Hagel, who added that increasingly, fellow Republicans are coming to share his view.

"More and more of my colleagues up here are concerned," he said.

He made his comments as insurgent attacks in Iraq are at an all-time high and as a growing number of lawmakers have begun calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops there.

US officials say the president hopes to convince skeptical Americans that progress is being made in Iraq but that setting a firm timetable for withdrawal would only embolden the United States' enemies.

Responding to Hagel's remarks on US television Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected his bleak assessment of events in Iraq.

"If you're looking at what is happening politically in Iraq, these people are moving toward a different kind of future than Saddam Hussein could ever have given them," she told CNN.

"The insurgency is losing the Iraqi people, because the Iraqi people have a different kind of future in mind," she said. "That's why we're getting more intelligence. That's why people continue to volunteer for the Iraqi security services."

"We are not going to have to ... shoulder this burden until the day that the last moment of violence is over in Iraq. The Iraqis will have to do that. But we can leave them a firm foundation for a better future, and I think we can do that in a relatively quick period of time," Rice told CNN.

Still, recent polls show declining US support for the war, with some 59 percent of Americans expressing disapproval of how Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, and 51 percent thought the United States should never have invaded the country.

Copyright 2005 Agence France Presse. 

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