Bush Seeks Ideas On New War Plan Here And In Iraq info
December 15, 2006
Adding, redeploying troops among ways to 'do things differently'
By David Jackson, USA Today
WASHINGTON — President Bush will be spending part of his holidays in "continuous consultations" as he makes final decisions on a new Iraq war plan to be unveiled in the new year.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Thursday that Bush will seek more information from a variety of sources, including members of the Iraqi government, Pentagon and the National Security Council, which is coordinating the administration's review of its war policy.
The result could make or break the United States' push for democracy in Iraq, according to those who have participated in the review.
"We've basically got about one more chance to get this right," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations who attended a White House meeting with Bush on Monday.
Said Snow: "The endpoint of what's going on right now is not a speech, it's policy. It is a way forward where the president will be instructing those involved to do things differently than they are doing now."
Since meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan two weeks ago, Bush has listened to ideas on Iraq from heads of state and non-government experts, as well as military commanders.
The options include adding U.S. troops as well as minimizing the role of the estimated 140,000 troops already in Iraq. There have also been discussions about forging what Snow called a "moderate consensus" within the country's democratic government.
Some ideas have already been ruled out by Bush, including one to partition Iraq into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish zones. He also has questioned a proposal to negotiate with Iraq's neighbors, Iran and Syria, in part, he says, because they are helping insurgents in Iraq.
The consequences for Bush and the United States go beyond Iraq.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who lost the 2004 presidential election to Bush, believes the war was poorly planned and has damaged U.S. credibility in the Middle East.
Jordan's King Abdullah II has said civil war in Iraq could spread to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
Bush, whose approval ratings have dropped as more U.S. troops have died, has repeatedly said a premature withdrawal could turn Iraq into a haven for terrorists eager to strike America: "The stakes are high in this fight."