Togo West: Iraq War 'Unhealthy' to U.S. Military

Togo West, pictured with President Clinton in July 2000

Togo West, pictured here with President Clinton in July 2000, says the United States should be firm with Iraq about a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces. William Philpott/Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption William Philpott/Reuters

Togo D. West, Jr., the former secretary of both the Army and of Veterans Affairs under President Clinton, says the continued occupation of Iraq is indeed "unhealthy, unwholesome and not good for our national security."

October has been the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq since 2004. Togo says that with about half of America's forces committed to Iraq, the military is stretched too thin — and it's past time to think about an exit strategy.

"I think just about everybody now has come to the conclusion that we need to be looking for an end game [in Iraq], and an end game that is not far away," he tells Farai Chideya.

West waded into the current timetable vs. benchmark debate, saying that the only way to resolve the current stalemate with the insurgency is to press the Iraqi government to abide by a timeline. A timeline, Togo says, will force the Iraqis to take greater responsibility for their security.

West also says that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is the one person in Congress best in tune with active-duty military leaders. Murtha is a longtime military veteran who has been vilified by the GOP for asserting that the U.S. military is at the breaking point and needs to withdraw from Iraq.

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