Rep. Walter B. Jones sits in his office in Washington, D.C., surrounded by photos and memorabilia of fallen U.S. soldiers. Though he voted in 2002 to authorize U.S. war against Iraq, the conservative Republican from North Carolina soon came to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan violated his Christian principles. Jones, who has become one of the wars' most outspoken critics, reached across the aisle to coauthor, with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the McGovern-Jones Amendment, introduced in July 2010, which calls for a clear timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Sojourners editor-in-chief Jim Wallis talked with Jones this summer in his Capitol Hill office.
Jim Wallis: Rep. Jones, I admire your political and moral courage for speaking out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tell me about your journey from voting to go into Iraq in 2003 to where you are today.
Rep. Walter B. Jones: When I walked to the floor of the House the night that President Bush asked Congress to give him the authority to go into Iraq, I did not feel good about my vote. But because Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Gen. Richard Myers had been briefing both parties, I voted to go into Iraq.
God was being challenged in my heart by my evil desire to get re-elected. I felt that the military retirees among my constituents -- Camp Lejeune is in my district -- would believe the misinformation [about the alleged need to go into Iraq], and I was not strong enough to vote my conscience.