updated 10/15/2006 4:23:27 AM ET 2006-10-15T08:23:27

Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran who favors withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, wrote an essay for Sunday’s Washington Post blasting Republicans for referring to him and other Iraq war opponents as “Defeatocrats.”

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In his opinion piece, first published on the Post’s Web site Saturday night, Murtha, D-Pa., said Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others in the White House have called Iraq war opponents appeasers and pessimists and labeled Democrats the “cut and run” party.

“It’s all baseless name-calling, and it’s all wrong,” Murtha wrote. “Unless, of course, being a Defeatocrat means taking a good hard look at the administration’s Iraq policy and determining that it’s a failure.

“In that case, count me in. Because Democrats recognize that we’re headed for a far greater disaster in Iraq if we don’t change course — and soon. This is not defeatism. This is realism.”

Murtha, a military hawk and close confidant of top military officials, surprised Washington last year when he called for pulling all troops out of Iraq within months.

Murtha: ‘Democrats are fighting a war on two fronts’
At a GOP fundraiser in Milwaukee last month, Cheney accused Murtha of advocating a policy of retreat in the war against terrorism.

In the Post essay, Murtha wrote: “Democrats are fighting a war on two fronts: One is combating the spin and intimidation that defines this administration. The other is fighting to change course, to do things better, to substitute smart, disciplined strategy for dogma and denial in Iraq.

“That’s not defeatism. That’s our duty,” Murtha wrote.

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