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Iraq Transition

Reid: Iraq war 'worst foreign policy mistake' in U.S. history

Story Highlights

• Senate majority leader calls Iraq war a worse mistake than Vietnam war
• Harry Reid says U.S. in "very deep hole" and needs to get out of it
• White House spokesman says war was needed to oust Saddam Hussein
• Tony Snow says U.S. must provide troops with resources to "get the job done"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After months of heated rhetoric slamming President Bush's Iraq policy, the Senate's top Democrat moved into new terrain by declaring the Iraq war a worse blunder than Vietnam.

"This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"So we should take everything seriously. We find ourselves in a very deep hole and we need to find a way to dig out of it."

Asked whether he considers it a worse blunder than Vietnam, Reid responded, "Yes."

Comparisons to Vietnam are nothing new, but a "worse than" designation from a top lawmaker is.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican who has been one of the war's most outspoken critics, told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in January that President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq "represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

Reid's statement, in an interview recorded Saturday, came after he and fellow Democrats failed to force a vote on a nonbinding resolution condemning Bush's plan. They could not win enough Republican support to make the vote happen. (Full story)

The House, meanwhile, easily passed the resolution Friday.

White House spokesman Tony Snow told CNN he disagrees with Reid's characterization.

"In point of fact, it was important to get Saddam Hussein out of power," Snow told "Late Edition."

"Yeah, the war is tough. But the solution is not to get out. It is to provide the kinds of resources and reinforcements our forces need to get the job done, and at the same time say to the Iraqis, 'You guys gotta step up.'"

Democratic leaders have said they will make sure the troops currently in Iraq get the equipment they need.

In speeches leading up to November's midterm elections, President Bush argued against sending more troops to Iraq.

The elections gave Democrats control of both houses of Congress.

The president says the additional troops would be part of a new strategy aimed at bringing security to Baghdad, where scores of people are killed each week in bombings, executions and other violence.

It was not immediately clear how many Democrats share Reid's view.

"I believe it's one of the worst blunders, certainly is," New Mexico's Democratic Governor Bill Richardson told "Late Edition." "And the focus now should be on how we can get our troops out and leave Iraq with a chance for sustainability in the future."

He then added, "But I do agree with that because our obsession with Iraq has cost us enormous amounts of prestige ... around the world. But also the fact that we haven't focused on the real challenges facing this country: international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, North Korea, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian issue."

Richardson is considering a presidential run in 2008.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, says the Iraq war is the worst foreign policy blunder in U.S. history.



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