Iraq has become US President George Bush's Vietnam, filled with mistakes and blunders, without a long-term plan, a prominent US senator said.
America's military entanglement in Iraq "clearly is George Bush's Vietnam", Senator Edward Kennedy, a leading member of the Democratic Party, said on CBS's Face The Nation programme on Sunday.
The harsh words refer to the US role and ultimate defeat in the 1964-1975 Vietnam war.
Kennedy blasted Bush's claim in an interview in Sunday's Washington Post that his Iraq policy was endorsed by the US public because of his November 2004 re-election victory.
"I think that's ridiculous," said Kennedy. He referred to the 1964 elections, when Democrat Lyndon Johnson, who had increased US military involvement in Vietnam, defeated Republican Barry Goldwater by an overwhelming majority.
Johnson then had to "basically abdicate the presidency" when he announced in March 1968 that he would not seek re-election, largely due to the drain on time, resources and his popularity resulting from failures in Vietnam.
Blunder after blunder
The Abu Ghraib scandal is among
the US blunders, Kennedy said
According to Kennedy, Iraq "is a disaster because it's a result of blunder after blunder after blunder", he said.Kennedy said it has "absolutely been a mistake that we went into Iraq, instead of following Usama bin Ladin".
Further mistakes included not having enough troops for post-war operations, disbanding the Iraqi army, having single-source contracts to groups such as the politically connected Halliburton, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and the US refusal to accept offers by other countries such as Egypt to assist in training Iraqi forces, said Kennedy.
"Finally they have been unable to make up a plan - they're making it up day by day. Until Iraqis are going to fight for their own country we are going to have a very, very dangerous situation," said Kennedy.
US making the calls
"The United States has been manipulating and making all the calls in terms of Iraq"
US Senator Edward Kennedy
As for the upcoming elections in Iraq, "We have to let the Iraqis make the judgment and the decision about the elections.
"The United States has been manipulating and making all the calls in terms of Iraq. The Iraqis have to make the judgments," he said.
"Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves this very basic question. And that is, 'Is the face of the United States part of the liberation and security and the stability in that country, or are we a force that is perceived to be expanding the kind of uncertainty and savagery and revolution that's taking place there?'" he asked.