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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Ex-officials lash Bush policies
President Bush
Some accuse Bush's aides rather then the man himself
A group of retired US diplomats and generals has condemned the foreign policy of the Bush administration as ideological and callously indifferent.

Members of the 26-strong group of Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change demanded a major rethink in an open letter published in Washington.

"I think we will in time come to be very ashamed of this period in history," said one, Chas Freeman.

Another, Gen Merrill McPeak, talked of the "terrible disaster" in Iraq.

Never before have so many of us felt the need for a major change in the direction of our foreign policy
Phyllis Oakley
former ambassador

"Because [of] the Pollyann-ish assumptions that were made by the administration going in there, that bouquets would be thrown at us and so forth, we were totally unprepared for the post-combat occupation," the former chief of staff of the US Air Force said.

Mr Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the prisoner abuses at Iraq's US-run Abu Ghraib prison amounted to a "catastrophic disaster".

However, he suggested that blame for the abuses rested not with President George W Bush directly, but "some people in the administration".

'Callous indifference'

Another former ambassador, Phyllis Oakley, said the need for change was unprecedented.

"Today we see that structure crumbling under an administration blinded by ideology and a callous indifference to the realities of the world around it," she said.

"Never before have so many of us felt the need for a major change in the direction of our foreign policy."

The former officials have launched their call for change in a presidential election year, but the group is made up of both Democrats and members of Mr Bush's Republican Party.

Known critics of the administration were deliberately excluded from it.

Pressure for change

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says the group includes some who worked for the president's father, George Bush Senior, when he was in the White House.

US troops watch bomb-damaged tanker burn in Iraq
Bush's foreign policy has made us the object of hate world wide
Susan Taylor, Bronxville, NY

They include William Crowe, who as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, was America's top military officer, and Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former director of the CIA.

The statement follows criticism last month by former diplomats who accused the administration of undermining US credibility in the Arab world by its strong support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The UK government has also come under fire, former officials attacking Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for Washington over Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Boost to Kerry

Several individual signatories to the open letter have said they will back Mr Bush's Democrat challenger, John Kerry, and others say that the document is in effect calling for the president's removal.

"It is clear that the statement calls for the defeat of the administration," said William C Harrop, former ambassador to Israel.

But supporters of the administration said the former officials who had signed the letter were simply trying to hide the inadequacy of their own policies.

Cliff May, president of the conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the BBC:

"Largely, they are people who were in senior official capacities before 9/11. They are people who are responsible for the policies prior to 9/11.

"Those policies I think, failed spectacularly on 9/11," he said.


Avis T Bohlen, President Bush's former assistant secretary of state for arms control
Adm William J Crowe, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under President Reagan and ambassador to UK under President Clinton; has endorsed John Kerry
Jeffrey S Davidow, President Bush's former ambassador to Mexico
William A DePree, ex-ambassador to Bangladesh
Donald B Easum, ex-ambassador to Nigeria
Charles W Freeman, ex-ambassador to Saudi Arabia
William C Harrop, President Bush Senior's ambassador to Israel
Arthur A Hartman, ex-ambassador to Soviet Union and France
Gen Joseph P Hoar, commander in chief of US Central Command under Bush Sr; supports John Kerry
H Allen Holmes, ex-special operations chief
Robert V Keeley, ex-ambassador to Greece and Zimbabwe
Samuel W Lewis, ex-ambassador to Israel
Princeton N Lyman, ex-ambassador to South Africa
Jack F Matlock, ambassador to the USSR under President Reagan and President Bush Senior
Donald F McHenry, ex-ambassador to the UN
Gen Merrill A McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff; supports John Kerry
George E Moose, ex-African affairs chief
David D Newsom, former acting secretary of state
Phyllis E Oakley, ex-intelligence and research chief
James Daniel Phillips, ex-ambassador to Africa
John E Reinhardt, ex-ambassador to Nigeria
Gen William Y Smith, ex-deputy commander in chief, US European Command
Ronald I Spiers, ex-senior UN official and ambassador to Pakistan
Michael Sterner, ex-ambassador in Middle East
Adm Stansfield Turner, CIA director under Carter; has endorsed John Kerry
Alexander F Watson, ex-assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs

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