Bush sees Iraq success where quagmire exists
The president said success in Iraq will allow him to pull 5,700 troops out by Christmas.
PRESIDENT Bush's declaration of success in Iraq sounded far too much like his infamous "mission accomplished" speech in May 2003 to be taken seriously. His decision to pull 5,700 combat troops out of Iraq by Christmas is a popular move but should not be taken as a sign of success in improving security in the country.
The president voiced far more optimism than displayed by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker in two days of congressional testimony setting the stage for yesterday's speech from the Oval Office. Neither was confident of eventual success in Iraq although reporting that U.S. military objectives are being met.
Petraeus had recommended a "drawdown" of U.S. forces by the end of this year, denying the contention by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., that it would amount to a "token withdrawal." U.S. troops in Iraq now number 168,000, and Petraeus told of plans to reduce the troop level to 130,000 -- the level before the current surge was begun -- by next summer.
Bush would not go that far, saying only, "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home." A clearer indication of further reductions are expected in March, when Congress will receive its next update.
The dysfunctional Iraqi government has failed enormously in doing its part to achieve stability and security independent of U.S. military efforts. The president acknowledged that what poses as the Iraq government "has not met its own legislative benchmarks -- and in my meetings with Iraqi leaders, I have made it clear that they must." Or what?
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