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Three GOP Senators Urge Refocusing of Iraq Policy

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 20, 2004; Page A16

Republican senators lobbed criticisms of President Bush's Iraq war policies during yesterday's news talk shows, arguing that the U.S. military needs more troops on the ground and should move without haste to turn the tide against a deadly and persistent insurgency.

Following a recent spate of attacks that have killed scores of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens, some senators said yesterday that U.S. policy has been misdirected and needs to be refocused. As the presidential election nears, the Republicans blasted what they called a sometimes stubborn administration and called on military leaders to launch attacks on insurgent strongholds sooner rather than later.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that he never would have allowed sanctuaries for anti-coalition fighters in cities such as Fallujah, where officials believe the insurgency has been strengthening.

"Allowing those sanctuaries has contributed significantly to the difficulties that we're facing, which are very, very significant," McCain said. "We made serious mistakes right after the initial successes by not having enough troops there on the ground, by allowing the looting, by not securing the borders. There was a number of things that we did. Most of it can be traced back to not having sufficient numbers of troops there."

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), said he believes the situation in Iraq is going to get worse before it gets better, adding that he believes the administration has done a "poor job of implementing and adjusting at times." Speaking on CNN's "Late Edition," he called for more troops in Iraq.

"The administration has been stubborn about troops," Graham said, referring to repeated administration contentions that the U.S. military does not need to be expanded to handle the global war on terror. "We do not need to paint a rosy scenario for the American people. We need to let the American people know this is just like World War II; we're in it for the duration."

On CBS's "Face the Nation," Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) announced that he is going to make nearly two dozen policy suggestions to the State Department and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to improve the situation in Iraq. In particular, he suggested starting training camps for security forces in the region surrounding Iraq and offering economic development initiatives throughout the region.

"The fact is, we're in trouble. We're in deep trouble in Iraq," Hagel said. "And I think we're going to have to look at some recalibration of policy."

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