Franks Takes the Blame

For Bush War Comment

Retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks tried to take the blame yesterday for President Bush's much-criticized comments declaring an end to major combat in Iraq in 2003.

"That's my fault, that George W. Bush said what he said on the first of May of last year, just because I asked him to," said Franks, former commander of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Less than two months after the invasion of Iraq, Bush flew to a U.S. aircraft carrier and declared an end to major combat with a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" in the background.

The event, Bush's words and the banner have been repeatedly criticized and mocked. The Iraq occupation turned more violent, American deaths continued to mount and U.S. forces were unable to find weapons of mass destruction, a main rationale for the war.

"I wanted to get the phase of military operation over as quickly as I could, because a lot of countries on this planet had said as soon as that major stuff is over, we'll come in and help with all of the peacekeeping," Franks said.

He noted that the Bush administration has had limited success persuading other nations to participate in Iraq. Of about 160,000 foreign forces there now, about 140,000 are American.

Shalikashvili in Hospital

After Massive Stroke

Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in intensive care at an Army hospital in Tacoma, Wash., after suffering a massive stroke, officials said.

Shalikashvili, 68, who was the U.S. military's top official from 1993 to 1997, was admitted to the Madigan Army Medical Center on Saturday, hospital spokesman Michael Meines said, adding that he was in intensive care in guarded condition.

Defense officials said Shalikashvili, who lives near Fort Lewis, next to Tacoma, had the stroke Friday.

Shalikashvili, currently a Boeing Co. director, endorsed presidential candidate John F. Kerry at the Democratic National Convention last month.

U.S. Teenagers Expect

Draft in Their Lifetimes

Most U.S. high school students believe the government will restart the military draft during their lifetimes, and shrinking numbers are optimistic about the country's future, a new poll finds.

Among teenagers, 55 percent say young Americans will be required to serve in the military, up from 45 percent last year, according to "The State of Our Nation's Youth," an annual survey by the Horatio Alger Association.

During the year between polls -- May 2003 to May 2004 -- U.S. casualties mounted during attacks in Iraq even after major combat was declared over.

President Richard M. Nixon ended the draft in 1973. Pentagon leaders and others have said it should not be resumed because the volunteer military is more efficient. Critics, including Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, have accused the Pentagon of engaging in a "backdoor draft" to compensate for troop shortages in Iraq with mobilizations of National Guard and reserve units.

In the poll, respondents were asked their views of a mandatory military service requirement of two years, and 70 percent of students were opposed.

-- From News Services