LINCOLN, Nebraska – George McGovern, the former senator and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, said he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June.
If Democrats don't take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won't be in power very long, McGovern told reporters Thursday before a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"I think the Democratic leadership is wise enough to know that if they're going to follow the message that election sent, they're going to have to take steps to bring the war to a conclusion," he said.
McGovern will present his recommendations before the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a 62-member group led by Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee.
"The best way to reduce this insurgency is to get the American forces out of there," McGovern said. "That's what's driving this insurgency."
McGovern told the audience Thursday that the Iraq and Vietnam wars were equally "foolish enterprises" and that the current threat of terrorism developed because — not before — the United States went into Iraq.
McGovern's plan — as written in his new book, "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now" — also calls for the United States to remove hired mercenaries from the region, push for the removal of British troops and establish a temporary transitional force, similar to police, made up of Muslims from the region.
"I've talked with a lot of senior officers — generals and admirals — in preparation for this book, that say this war can't be won, that the problems now are not military problems," McGovern told reporters. "There isn't going to be any decisive victory in Iraq."
It is vital that Republican and Democratic legislators find common ground with one another and President George W. Bush, McGovern said.
"Never let the new class of Democrats forget that they're there in considerable part because of the war the American public has now turned against," McGovern said. "That's going to have to be something that they have to explore with Republicans and with the White House."
McGovern, a former South Dakota congressman and senator, was a leading opponent of the war in Vietnam. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972, losing to Richard Nixon, and was ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome from 1998 to 2001.