Whether it’s because he’s facing a tough campaign against an antiwar Democrat or he just lost his supply of kool-aid, Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) has swung ‘round to sanity on the Iraq war. After returning from his 14th visit to Iraq, the once-steadfast hawk called for a timetable for withdrawal and bashed Rumsfeld: “I haven’t had faith in the secretary in a long time.”
“My view is that it may be that the only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for troop withdrawal,” Shays said from London in a conference call with reporters. “A timeline of when the bulk of heavy lifting is in the hands of the Iraqis.”
Shays is one of only a few congressional Republicans supporting a timetable for ending U.S. involvement in the Iraq fighting, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,600 U.S. troops and an estimated 40,000 to 45,000 Iraqi civilians. Bush reaffirmed this week his opposition to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. “Leaving before the job was done would be a disaster,” he warned.
Shays said it is essential to signal to the Iraqi government that there is no open checkbook or indefinite time frame.