Retired generals against the Iraq war are bringing their message to New Hampshire, the first primary state and home to vulnerable Republican U.S. Sen. John Sununu.
Gen. Robert Gard and Brig. Gen. John Johns, both retired, are teaming up with Win Without War, a group pushing for American withdrawal from Iraq within one year, and are scheduled to speak at a town-hall-style meeting today in Manchester. Win Without War was founded in 2002 and counts MoveOn.org, NAACP, Sierra Club, National Organization for Women and several church groups among its coalition members.
Johns, 79, said he is an independent who voted for Democrats Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. But he said his opinion of President Bush did not sour until 2002, when talk surfaced of invading Iraq.
"It was one of the great blunders of history to go in the way that we did," said Johns, who retired from the military in 1978.
"I was indifferent until 2002, when it became clear that he planned to go unilaterally into Iraq. . . . At that point, I became an activist."
Gard said he voted for Bush in 2000. "That was a bad mistake on my part, and I knew it as early as 2002," Gard said, echoing Johns's comments. He said increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq now is not a solution that can lead to a military victory or stabilizing the country. "It's not winnable with military force. We are exacerbating, not solving, the problem," Gard said.