With his failed Iraq policy crumbling around him, an embattled President George W. Bush Tuesday pleaded for more time from a growing list of Republican dissenters, a skeptical Democratic Congress and a disillusioned American public.
As Bush stubbornly claims his lost war can still be won, more Americans and Iraqis died in an attack inside the heavily-fortified Green Zone and a roadside bomb today destroyed a military Hummer, killing or wounding an undisclosed number of soldiers.
Yet as the carnage mounts, Bush stubbornly refuses to budge on Iraq and refuses to admit failure in a war that just about everyone else says is lost.
Facing the most potent attack yet from Congress on the war as his political influence dims, Bush said generals on the battlefield must decide troop strength, not frustrated politicians in Washington.
But Democrats fired up a new assault on US war strategy with a demand for troop withdrawals within four months, with most combat troops to be home by the end of next April. Bush has already vetoed a timeline-based approach.
The president told a friendly audience of business leaders in the Midwestern state of Ohio that he had a “plan to lead to victory” despite a bloody three-month period of US combat deaths and raging violence in Iraq.
While criticizing Iraq’s government for not doing enough to promote reconciliation, Bush asked lawmakers to wait for the US commander in Iraq to deliver a key progress report on his troop surge strategy, due in September.
“I call upon the United States Congress to give General David Petraeus a chance to come back and tell us whether his strategy is working, and then we can work together on a way forward,” Bush said.
Bush spoke days before an interim assessment is due on the operation to surge 30,000 more troops into Iraq, amid reports the Iraqi government has met none of its required political and military targets under the plan.
A poll released Tuesday showed the political logic behind waning Republican enthusiasm for the war: opposition to the war mounted and Bush’s approval rating fell to a new low.
Seven in 10 Americans favor removing nearly all US troops from Iraq by April, said the USA Today/Gallup poll. And 62 percent of those surveyed over the weekend said the United States had made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq — the first time that figure exceeded 60 percent.
Only one in five said the troop surge starting in January had improved the situation.
As Bush continues to claim his plan is working, violence in Iraq continues to mount.
Writes Jay Deshmukh of AFP:
Insurgents opened fire on the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least three people, as US President George W. Bush rejected a new wave of opposition to his strategy for the strife-torn country.
The US embassy in the Green Zone “is currently aware of three fatalities: a US military service member, an Iraqi citizen, and a third-country national of unknown nationality,” a statement from the US state department said.
It said that “multiple rounds of indirect fire” were launched at the zone, but did not give further details.
The walled area also houses the British embassy and the Iraqi parliament, and it has been regularly attacked in recent weeks.
The latest attack came hours after gunmen in civilian cars opened fire on Iraqi policemen manning a checkpoint near the restive town of Samarra, killing five, according to police Captain Riyad Yussef.