13 June 2004 The 26 ex-diplomats and military
leaders say his foreign policy has harmed national
security. Several served under Republicans.
- A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military
officials, several appointed to key positions
by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George
H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this
week arguing that President George W. Bush has
damaged America's national security and should
be defeated in November.
group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military
Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn
Bush's foreign policy, according to several of
those who signed the document.
is clear that the statement calls for the defeat
of the administration," said William C. Harrop,
the ambassador to Israel under President Bush's
father and one of the group's principal organizers.
signing the document, which will be released in
Washington on Wednesday, include 20 former U.S.
ambassadors, appointed by presidents of both parties,
to countries including Israel, the former Soviet
Union and Saudi Arabia.
are senior State Department officials from the
Carter, Reagan and Clinton administrations and
former military leaders, including retired Marine
Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, the former commander of U.S.
forces in the Middle East under President Bush's
father. Hoar is a prominent critic of the war
of those signing the document - such as Hoar and
former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill A. McPeak
- have identified themselves as supporters of
Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic
presidential nominee. But most have not endorsed
any candidate, members of the group said.
is unusual for so many former high-level military
officials and career diplomats to issue such an
overtly political message during a presidential
senior official at the Bush reelection campaign
said he did not wish to comment on the statement
until it was released.
in the past, administration officials have rejected
charges that Bush has isolated America in the
world, pointing to countries contributing troops
to the coalition in Iraq and the unanimous passage
last week of the U.N. resolution authorizing the
interim Iraqi government.
senior Republican strategist familiar with White
House thinking said he did not think the group
was sufficiently well-known to create significant
political problems for the president.
strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,
also said the signatories were making an argument
growing increasingly obsolete as Bush leans more
on the international community for help in Iraq.
timing is a little off, particularly in the aftermath
of the most recent U.N. resolution," the strategist
said. "It seems to me this is a collection of
resentments that have built up, but it would have
been much more powerful months ago than now when
even the president's most disinterested critics
would say we have taken a much more multilateral
approach" in Iraq.
those signing the document say the recent signs
of cooperation do not reverse a basic trend toward
increasing isolation for the U.S.
just felt things were so serious, that America's
leadership role in the world has been attenuated
to such a terrible degree by both the style and
the substance of the administration's approach,"
said Harrop, who served as ambassador to four
African countries under Carter and Reagan.
lot of people felt the work they had done over
their lifetime in trying to build a situation
in which the United States was respected and could
lead the rest of the world was now undermined
by this administration - by the arrogance, by
the refusal to listen to others, the scorn for
multilateral organizations," Harrop said.
F. Matlock Jr., who was appointed by Reagan as
ambassador to the Soviet Union and retained in
the post by President Bush's father during the
final years of the Cold War, expressed similar
since Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. has built up
alliances in order to amplify its own power,"
he said. "But now we have alienated many of our
closest allies, we have alienated their populations.
We've all been increasingly appalled at how the
relationships that we worked so hard to build
up have simply been shattered by the current administration
in the method it has gone about things."
GOP strategist noted that many of those involved
in the document claimed their primary expertise
in the Middle East and suggested a principal motivation
for the statement might be frustration over Bush's
effort to fundamentally reorient policy toward
60 years we believed in quote-unquote stability
at the price of liberty, and what we got is neither
liberty nor stability," the strategist said. "So
we are taking a fundamentally different approach
toward the Middle East. That is a huge doctrinal
shift, and the people who have given their lives,
careers to building the previous foreign policy
consensus, see this as a direct intellectual assault
on what they have devoted their lives to. And
it is. We think what a lot of people came up with
was a failure - or at least, in the present world
in which we live, it is no longer sustainable."
of the effort counter that several in the group
have been involved in developing policy affecting
almost all regions of the globe.
document will echo a statement released in April
by a group of high-level former British diplomats
condemning Prime Minister Tony Blair for being
too closely aligned to U.S. policy in Iraq and
Israel. Those involved with the new group said
their effort was already underway when the British
statement was released.
signatories said Kerry's campaign played no role
in the formation of their group. Phyllis E. Oakley,
the deputy State Department spokesman during Reagan's
second term and an assistant secretary of state
under Clinton, said she suspected "some of them
[in the Kerry campaign] may have been aware of
it," but that "the campaign had no role" in organizing
Cutter, Kerry's communications director, also
said that the Kerry campaign had not been involved
in devising the group's statement.
document does not explicitly endorse Kerry, according
to those familiar with it. But some individual
signers plan to back the Democrat, and others
acknowledge that by calling for Bush's removal,
the group effectively is urging Americans to elect
core of the message is that we are so deeply concerned
about the current direction of American foreign
policy - that we think it is essential for the
future security of the United States that a new
foreign policy team come in," said Oakley.
of the debate over the document in the days ahead
may pivot on the extent to which it is seen as
a partisan document.
Bush administration ally said that the group failed
to recognize how the Sept. 11 attacks required
significant changes in American foreign policy.
"There's no question those who were responsible
for policies pre-9/11 are denying what seems as
the obvious - that those policies were inadequate,"
said Cliff May, president of the conservative
advocacy group Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
seems like a statement from 9/10 people who don't
see the importance of 9/11 and the way that should
have changed our thinking."
with Hoar and McPeak, others who have signed it
are identified with the Democratic Party.
William J. Crowe Jr., though named chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Reagan, supported
Clinton in 1992. Crowe has endorsed Kerry. Retired
Adm. Stansfield Turner served as Carter's director
of central intelligence and has also endorsed
Kerry. Matlock said he was a registered Democrat
during most of his foreign service career, though
he voted for Reagan in 1984 and the elder Bush
twice and now is registered as an independent.
on the group's list were appointed to their most
important posts under Reagan and the elder Bush.
These include Matlock and Harrop, as well as Arthur
A. Hartman, who served as Reagan's ambassador
to the Soviet Union from 1981 through 1987; H.
Allen Holmes, an assistant secretary of state
under Reagan; and Charles Freeman, ambassador
to Saudi Arabia under the elder Bush.
on the list have not been previously identified
with any political cause or party. Several "are
the kind who have never spoken out before," said
James Daniel Phillips, former ambassador to Burundi
and the Congo.
Harrop and Matlock said the effort began this
year. Matlock said it was sparked by conversations
among "colleagues who had served in senior positions
around the same time, most of them for the Reagan
administration and for the first Bush administration."
said frustration over the Iraq war was "a large
part" of the impetus for the statement, but the
criticism of President Bush "goes much deeper."
group's complaint about Bush's approach largely
tracks Kerry's contention that the administration
has weakened American security by straining traditional
alliances and shifting resources from the war
against Al Qaeda to the invasion of Iraq.
said the statement would argue that, "Unfortunately
the tough stands [Bush] has taken have made us
less secure. He has neglected the war on terrorism
for the war in Iraq. And while we agree that we
are in unprecedented times and we face challenges
we didn't even know about before, these challenges
require the cooperation of other countries. We
cannot do it by ourselves."
signatories [full list]: http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/061404A.shtml
Posted: June 15, 2004