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Former diplomats say Bush is a failure

By Andrew Buncombe

Independent June 16 2004

A group of heavy-hitting former US diplomats and military officials has called on the American public to vote George Bush out of office in November, accusing the President of undermining the nation's interests and failing to provide proper leadership.

The 26 former officials - calling themselves Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change - say they are not explicitly endorsing the Democrat John Kerry. But they say Mr Bush's handling of issues ranging from the war in Iraq through to the environment and Aids policy has left them disillusioned.

"We agreed that we had just lost confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to advocate for American interests or to provide the kind of leadership that we think is essential," said William Harrop, who served as the first President Bush's ambassador to Israel, and previously in four African countries. "The group does not endorse Kerry, although it more or less goes without saying in the statement."

He said some of those involved in the project felt uncomfortable making an explicitly political statement. But he added: "We just feel very strongly that the country needs new leadership."

Among the group are 20 ambassadors appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, other former state department officials and long-serving military leaders.