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Rep. Jones: Democrats Not Alone In Wanting War To End

When four members of Congress joined Tuesday afternoon for a press conference outlining their displeasure with President Obama's commitment of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, it was not surprising to see Republican Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) standing alongside three liberal Democrats. However, his remarks to a few reporters following the event offered further insight into Jones's opposition.

About a month ago, Jones said, a retired general -- whom Jones would not name, but said he was well known enough to be instantly recognized -- told him the military cannot withstand another increase in troops.

"We are about to break the military. Tell your colleagues not to support the president in sending 45- or 50,000 more troops. Because I don't want to make the same mistake I made in Iraq," Jones said the general told him.

The eight-term congressman then said if Congress were able to vote on whether or not to send troops, he would not be the only Republican to vote against it.

"There are seven to 10 Republicans that believe we need to have an end to this policy," said Jones, who emphasized that they would only vote no on the policy, not necessarily a vote to fund the troops.

Jones's 3rd District covers most of the North Carolina coastline and is home to the Marine Corps's Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point air station. Fifteen percent of the district's population is military veterans -- one of the highest percentages in the country.

After voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq in 2002, Jones became deeply affected by the mounting combat deaths and decided he no longer could support the war effort. He joined Democrats in pushing Bush for a timetable for withdrawal in 2005 and in the 2007 vote disapproving of Bush's troop surge in Iraq. He has also written thousands of letters to the families of soldiers that were killed in Iraq.

So it was no surprise to see Jones standing next to three of the most liberal members of Congress in opposing the latest troop surge: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). They all agreed that Congress should be able to debate the surge before troops are deployed, though that is not expected to happen.