Congressman Jim Leach says the Bush Administration should resist the idea of going to war in Iran. President Bush, in his State of the Union speech on Wednesday, expressed support for Iranians who want democracy. “I can’t think of anything that would be a greater mistake today,” Leach says. If the U.S. sends forces in Iran, Leach says it would be the third time the U.S. has sent military forces into a muslim state. As for neighbor Iraq, Leach says there should be a “symbolic” removal of some U.S. troops from Iraq after last week’s successful Iraqi elections. “Now that we’ve held democratic elections, my advice is to symbolically withdraw a few (soldiers) today and then as the elections based upon the new constitution that’s going to be written by October or November and the election that will follow after that, we ought to be prepared to make significant withdrawals,” Leach says. “The longer we’re there, the more we become a magnet for instability rather than a force for stability.” Leach says it is “frail logic” to think the U.S. military should extend its stay to establish a military base of operations in the Middle East. If the U.S. military stays in Iraq for the long-term, Leach says it will bolster the idea the U.S. is engaged in a “holy war” pitting Christians against Muslims.”If we think we can use Iraq as a staging ground for military activity on a long-term basis, I think we’ll be bringing upon ourselves great grief within the country and far greater grief around the world,” Leach says. “That, as much as anything, could help precipitate this Judeo Christian versus Muslim clash of civilizations that I think we should be attempting to avoid at all costs.” Leach, who is a republican from Iowa City, made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight.
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