WASHINGTON -- A Republican lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan took to the House floor Wednesday evening, calling on his GOP colleagues to join him and speak out.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) was initially a strong supporter of President Bush's national security policies. He backed the invasion of Iraq and became widely known as a leader of the infamous push to rename french fries as "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria in 2003.
But two years later, he was already regretting both positions. Though he had a staunch conservative record and hails from one of the most heavily-militarized districts in the country, Jones was soon joining Democrats calling on Bush to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
Jones is now a consistent supporter of pulling out of Afghanistan as well, citing the lives lost of U.S. service members and billions of dollars spent on the effort.
On Wednesday, he praised Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist for calling for a vigorous debate on the war and said that he would like to see more conservatives speak up. Citing a Jan. 12 Huffington Post article which read, "Norquist also suggested that many prominent conservatives privately hold the view that the war in Afghanistan should end quickly," Jones continued:
It is time for them to speak out publicly, Mr. Speaker. We need to become more engaged in the issue and make our feelings known. Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned before that a retired military general has been my adviser on Afghanistan for the past year. I'd like to share two points he made in a recent email. The first point he made is, and I quote, "What is the end state we are looking to achieve, measures of effectiveness? What is our exit strategy?" Same old questions, no answers.
The second point the general made in his email to me: "What do we say to the mother and father, to the wife of the last soldier or Marine killed to support a corrupt government and corrupt leader in a war that cannot be won?" [...]
It is time that Congress and the American people really look at what is going on and what war really means. I would like to thank prominent conservative Grover Norquist for speaking out on Afghanistan. I hope this inspires others to do the same. History has shown that we cannot fix Afghanistan. It is in our best interest to learn what history is trying to teach us, that no country has ever conquered Afghanistan. ... It is time to win the end the war in Afghanistan. It is time for Mr. Obama to keep his word to the American people, and that is to bring them out in July 2011.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), another conservative who has broken with the majority of his party on the war, has also said that he sees a "great opportunity" for a Republican presidential candidate in 2012 to "distinguish themselves by taking a strong position on bringing the troops home from Afghanistan."
"It's a very conservative position," Chaffetz said. "It will unite the right and the left, and it would certainly play well to independents."