View Full Version : Bush Promises An "Enduring" U.S. Presence In Iraq

09-14-2007, 07:29 AM
Under-fire Bush orders partial Iraq pull-out


(Gold9472: So he's basically bringing home the "surge." How nice of him.)

Published: Thursday September 13, 2007

US President George W. Bush announced Thursday he will pull some 21,500 combat troops from Iraq by mid-2008, but ruled out a full withdrawal and promised an "enduring" US presence there.

"Because of the measure of success we are seeing in Iraq, we can begin seeing troops come home," he said in a prime-time televised speech. "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home."

Insisting the unpopular war can still be won, Bush said whoever succeeds him at the White House will likely inherit the conflict and warned against giving up on a fledgling ally that is "fighting for its survival."

With most public opinion polls showing the US public two-to-one opposed to his strategy, and his Democratic foes clamoring for a withdrawal, Bush defiantly said he would build "an enduring relationship" with Iraq.

Iraqi leaders "understand that their success will require US political, economic, and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency," said Bush, whose term ends in January 2009.

"These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops," he said.

The unpopular president said that he had accepted advice from the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, that would bring some 5,700 troops home by Christmas and a total of 21,500 combat troops out by mid-2008.

That would leave about 130,000 troops in Iraq, roughly the number in December 2006, one month before he escalated US force levels in a thus-far failed effort to give Iraq's leaders room to reach key political compromises.

Bush also bluntly acknowledged he was not satisfied with the pace of Iraqi political reforms that Washington views as critical to forging national unity and quelling sectarian violence and urged leaders in Baghdad to do more.

"The government has not met its own legislative benchmarks," said Bush, who directed a message to Iraq's people that "you must demand that your leaders make the tough choices needed to achieve reconciliation."

And he warned that "efforts by Iran and Syria to undermine that government must end," while predicting that "a free Iraq will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran," which he accuses of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The president's plan came as the US Congress was poised to take up Democratic efforts to end the war and as presidential contenders faced tough questions on what they would do if elected in November 2008.

Democratic Senator Jack Reed, giving his party's response, said it was "time to change course" and urged support for "a plan to responsibly and rapidly begin a reduction of our troops in Iraq."

Democrats lack the votes to set a timetable for ending the war, but hope to secure Republican support to limit the US role in Iraq to battling terrorists, training the Iraqi army and protecting US personnel and installations.

They also hope to ensure that troops spend as much time at home as they do deployed in the war zone -- an apparent bid to limit the numbers of troops available for deployment.

The move came after two days of testimony by Petraeus and the US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, before the White House releases a progress report on the war on Friday.

Petraeus acknowledged in testimony to lawmakers that his draw-down reflected the end of the "surge" Bush ordered in January, but White House officials have couched it as the natural response to progress in Iraq.

"We've got a long way to go. It's very hard. We're realistic about it," Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said one day before the White House was to deliver a new progress report to the US Congress.

Bush made only a passing reference to a setback to US efforts -- the bombing that killed a top Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Sattar Abu Reesha, who spearheaded a campaign against Al-Qaeda in his restive home province of Anbar.

"In response, a fellow Sunni leader declared: 'We are determined to strike back and continue our work.' And as they do, they can count on the continued support of the United States," he said.

Opinion polls suggest that the war-weary US public is largely in favor of a swift withdrawal from Iraq, where more than 3,700 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since the March 2003 invasion.

White House aides acknowledge that the surge strategy has not yielded what Bush identified as a central goal: passage by Iraq's parliament of legislation seen as key to fostering national unity and quelling the sectarian violence.

And they also say that it will not achieve a key goal: putting Iraqis in charge of their own security by November 1.

09-14-2007, 07:33 AM
I just watched "highlights" of this on CNN. (Tony Snow looks like shit, no offense. I guess the cost of selling your sould just went up.) George looks like a zomby. Like an automaton just pushing the words out. What interesting times we live in.