Bush Asserts U.S. Is Winning Iraq War

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
By PETE YOST and TERENCE HUNT - Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON - (AP) President Bush asserted Sunday night the
United States is winning the war in Iraq and issued a plea to Americans
divided by doubt: "Do not give in to despair and do not give up on this
fight for freedom."
In a prime-time address, Bush acknowledged setbacks and sacrifice
and cautioned there would be more violence and death in the months ahead.
"Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and
not worth another dime or another day," he said.
Struggling to build confidence in his policy, the president held out
hopes for withdrawing American forces as Iraqi troops gain strength and
The president spoke from the Oval Office, where in March, 2003, he
announced the U.S.-led invasion. Nearly three years later, more than 2,150
U.S. soldiers have died, Bush's popularity has plummeted and about half of
Americans think the war was a mistake. Yet a strong majority oppose an
immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The address came on the heels of four major speeches in which Bush
acknowledged setbacks and surprises in the war and took responsibility for
ordering the invasion on the basis of inaccurate intelligence. The
admissions were part of a White House effort to address complaints that Bush
lacked a solid strategy for the war and has been oblivious to the violence
that Americans plainly see on television.
"I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss and not
one of those decisions has been taken lightly," he said. "I know that this
war is controversial, yet being your president requires doing what I believe
is right and accepting the consequences."
Bush said last week's voting for parliament will not bring an end to
the violence in Iraq, where he has estimated that 30,000 civilians have
died. But he said Iraq's election, 6,000 miles away, "means that America has
an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror."
His speech came amid an uproar in Congress over whether he exceeded
his powers in conducting the war on terror with a secret eavesdropping
program and on a day that Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit
to Baghdad and faced questions from U.S. soldiers about their mission.
Democrats were scornful even before the president spoke. Regarding a
turnover to Iraqi troops, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Bush "has
to tell us how we're going to get there. The people on the ground said there
is one battalion that can fight alone.
"The last speech he gave, he used the word `victory' 14 times. What
does that mean?" asked Reid.
Arguing against withdrawal, Bush said that "to retreat before
victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I will not allow."
As he has in the past three weeks, Bush acknowledged that missteps
and setbacks and took responsibility for ordering the invasion based on
faulty intelligence.
But, he said, "Not only can we win the war in Iraq _ we are winning
the war in Iraq."
He said there were only two options for the United States _ victory
or defeat.
"And the need for victory is larger than any president or political
party because the security of our people is in the balance. I do not expect
you to support everything I do but tonight I have a request: Do not give in
to despair and do not give up on this fight for freedom."
The Pentagon hopes to be able to reduce U.S. troop levels as Iraqi
security forces become more capable of defending their own country, but it
is unclear when that point will be reached. The usual U.S. troop level this
year of about 138,000 was strengthened to about 160,000 this fall out of
concern for a potential rise in violence during voting in October and
"It is also important for every American to understand the
consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done," Bush said. "We
would abandon our Iraqi friends and signal to the world that America cannot
be trusted to keep its word. ... We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have
pledged to attack us and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened
and more dangerous than ever before."
Acknowledging doubts about his strategy, Bush said, "Some look at
the challenges in Iraq, and conclude that the war is lost, and not worth
another dime or another day.
"I don't believe that," he said. "Our military commanders do not
believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make the
sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And not even the terrorists
believe it. We know from their own communications that they feel a
tightening noose and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq."
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., has said the United States should redeploy
all troops as quickly as possible because more than half of the Iraqis
people "want us out and almost half of them think we're the enemy."
A new poll shows that a strong majority of Americans oppose an
immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. The AP-Ipsos poll found 57 percent of
those surveyed said the U.S. military should stay until Iraq is stabilized.
There is skepticism on Capitol Hill about the U.S. military's
ability to sustain forces in Iraq indefinitely and about the ability of
Iraqis to carry the load.
"We failed to expand the Army and Marine Corps as many of us wanted
to happen a long time ago," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," McCain said that even though
militias control some parts of the Iraqi military and there is still
corruption, there now are certain towns where the Iraqi military has been
able to take over from U.S. troops.
Despite the faulty intelligence behind his war decision, Bush said
the United States was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power, calling him
"a murderous dictator who menaced his people, invaded his neighbors and
declared America to be his enemy. Saddam Hussein, captured and jailed, is
still the same raging tyrant _ only now without a throne."
Bush spoke openly about about war doubts and the loss of American
lives in Iraq. "This loss has caused sorrow for our whole nation and it has
led some to ask if we are creating more problems than we are solving," the
president said.
He answered the question by saying that if the United States were
not fighting the terrorists in Iraq, "they would be on the offense and
headed our way."
Bush said the grim news that Americans see on television about the
violence and bloodshed "proves that the war is difficult. It does not mean
that we are losing. Behind the images of chaos that terrorists create for
the camers, we are making steady gains with a clear objective in view."