No plan for big Iraq strategy shift or ultimatum to Iraqi leaders




 
--
Boots
 
October 24th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: No plan for big Iraq strategy shift or ultimatum to Iraqi leaders


Media: The Associated Press
Byline: By DEB RIECHMANN
Date: 24 October 2006


WASHINGTON_With just two weeks until congressional elections, the White
House sought to ease political anxieties about security in Iraq but rejected
calls from U.S. lawmakers for a dramatic policy shift.

The Nov. 7 elections will determine whether Republicans retain control of
Congress, and lawmakers in both the Republican and Democratic parties are
calling on President W. Bush to change his war plans.

"We're on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working," Sen.
Lindsey Graham said in an Associated Press interview. U.S. and Iraqi
officials should be held accountable for the lack of progress, said Graham,
a Republican who is a frequent critic of the administration's policies.

Asked who in particular should be held accountable _ Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld, perhaps, or the generals leading the war _ Graham said:
"All of them. It's their job to come up with a game plan" to end the
violence.

Bush, in a CNBC television interview, said, "Well, I've been talking about a
change in tactics ever since I _ ever since we went in, because the role of
the commander in chief is to say to our generals, `You adjust to the enemy
on the battlefield.'"

White House press secretary Tony Snow said the United States would adjust
its Iraq strategy but would not issue any ultimatums to the Iraqis. "Are
there dramatic shifts in policy? The answer is no," Snow said Monday.

He acknowledged, however, that Bush no longer is saying that the United
States will "stay the course" in Iraq.

"He stopped using it," Snow said of that phrase, adding that it left the
impression that the administration was not adjusting its strategy to
realities in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials in Iraq said Tuesday that government leaders there
have agreed to develop a timeline by the end of the year for progress in
stabilizing Iraq and reducing violence that has killed 300 Iraqi troops
during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan alone.

Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander who appeared at a news conference
with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, also said Iraqi forces should be able
to take control of security in the next 12 to 18 months with minimal
American support.

Casey also said he felt the United States should continue to focus on
drawing down the number of American forces in the country, adding that he
would not hesitate to ask for more troops if he felt they were necessary.

Showing progress in Iraq is critical because the approaching elections are
widely viewed as a referendum on the war.

Rumsfeld, in remarks at the Pentagon, said U.S. government and military
officials were working with Iraq to set a broad timetable for Iraqis to take
over 16 provinces still being controlled by U.S. troops. But he said
officials were not talking about penalizing the Iraqis if they don't hit
certain benchmarks.

The Iraqis have taken control of two southern provinces but have been slow
to take the lead in others, particularly those around Baghdad and in the
volatile regions north and west of the capital. Rumsfeld said specific
target dates probably will not be set.

Rumsfeld visited the White House early Monday with Gen. Peter Pace, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rumsfeld said the United States was looking at
when the Iraqis would move close to setting up a reconciliation process to
help quell worsening sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.
 


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