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Bush may consider troop cuts

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September 4, 2007

After months of stubbornly refusing even to consider cutting U.S. troop levels in Iraq, President George W. Bush has suddenly decided the idea is no longer taboo.

He raised the possibility during a surprise visit to a desert air base in Iraq’s Anbar province on Monday, saying there were signs of improved security and that some U.S. troops could be withdrawn from the country if the trend continued.

Even though he couched his words carefully and made no promises, it was the kind of concession rarely heard from Bush, who has made single-mindedness a defining trait of his presidency and of his conduct of the unpopular war in Iraq.

Bush may be trying to deflect some of the growing pressure he faces as he heads for a showdown with the Democratic-led Congress over his Iraq strategy.

Sitting down with reporters aboard Air Force One after seven hours of talks with U.S. and Iraqi officials on the ground, Bush held out the prospect that consultations on troop reductions could begin in weeks, if not days.

“The first moment that there will be any discussions about troop levels will be after General (David) Petraeus and Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker come back to Washington,” Bush said, referring to their much-anticipated testimony before Congress next Tuesday to give their assessment of the situation in Iraq.

“Any announcement one way or another will be after these folks come back to report,” he added as he flew to Sydney for an Asia-Pacific summit

Bush would not say how many troops could be withdrawn or how soon, and he insisted, as he has repeatedly, that any decisions would be based on the judgments of military commanders, not on political considerations in Washington.

But he made clear he saw a changing situation on the ground in Anbar and other parts of Iraq that had encouraged him to “speculate on the hypothetical” prospects for troop reductions.

SHOWCASING ANBAR

Bush spoke after hearing from Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who will testify about a troop buildup the president ordered earlier this year. There are now 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, including about 30,000 deployed since February.

Bush hailed what he saw as significant progress in quelling violence in Anbar, a former hotbed of the Iraq insurgency where Sunni tribal chiefs have joined with U.S. forces against al Qaeda militants.

Some Democrats say the president is trying to showcase a single area of achievement while ignoring broader failures by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-dominated government to promote national reconciliation needed to curb sectarian bloodshed.

The Bush administration has signaled it wants to maintain the higher force levels in Iraq well into 2008, but the president’s latest comments indicate he may be open to some adjustments.

Bush acknowledged at the in-flight briefing that his current view marked a softening from months past, when he insisted any U.S. pullback would bring chaos in Iraq.

He may now be facing political reality at home. Democrats in control of Congress are ready to step up pressure for a withdrawal timetable, and even some of Bush’s fellow Republicans are breaking ranks with him.

The latest was Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia who recently called for some U.S. troops to be sent home by Christmas.

Bush’s willingness to consider even modest troop reductions could prevent further Republican defections as the presidential campaign revs up and candidates worry about negative spillover from anti-war sentiment.

9 Responses to Bush may consider troop cuts

  1. SEAL

    September 4, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Last Saturday I crashed and my son rushed me to my cancer hospital ER where they saved my ass (third time) again. My body went down on me for some reason they still can’t figure out. All I remember is barley being able to communicate with them. They slammed me with several atibiotics because the cultures showed I had a massive infiection but they could not identify it. But whatever it was, they got it. I feel almost normal (for me) again now, just really weak. Anyway, I’m back home.

    Low an behold the first thing I see is Dumbya lying his ass off again trying to save his stupid war. So not much has changed. However, I suspect this will work for him just like it has before. There are always those diehard repugnants that will grasp at his little straws to continue to enable his insanity. When are these fools going to wake up and just cut the money off and say NO MORE?

  2. bryan mcclellan

    September 4, 2007 at 10:10 am

    It’s all about his legacy.Trying to put up just enough of a smoke screen so he can ride out on a white horse and be seen as the great compassionate nation builder. Mr. mission unaccomplished behind a veil of too little too late with his back against the the wall of his incompetence.Meanwhile the bulk of our military is left in the butcher shop to be hacked to pieces like so many lamb chops.I ain’t buying it smirk…

  3. Donnat

    September 4, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Bush always pulls this stunt
    When he needs to re-sell the war to the American sheeple. Besides, it’s not very likely that he’d stand in front of our troops and say “you’re staying here another five years”

    He’s a one trick chimp and this trick is getting OLD.

    Donnat

  4. Cashel Boylo

    September 4, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Disgraceful Exit Blues
    To the tune of St Louis Blues by W.C. Handy

    Now I have Decided the Job is Done
    I have Decided that the War is Won
    By June next year, we’ll Cut’n’Run
    Becoz I’ve Decided the Job is Done

    I’m acceleratin’ transfer to my man Maliki
    I have Decided Iraq’s now a Democracy
    I am preparin’ for a Disgraceful Exit
    I’ve destroyed Iraq an’ Iraqis can fix it

    Turnin’ over Security Responsibility
    Is not changin’ my War Winnin’ Strategy
    “There is no problem” declares Maliki
    An’ I says, I’ll accelerate your capacity

    Iran can’t show a path to peace for Maliki
    Foreign interference’d destabilize th’ c’untry
    Splittin’ Iraq into bits don’t make no sense
    Partition would lead to Sectarian Violence

    I unnerstan’ it’s tough inside of Iraq
    I’m scared to come here an’ tha’s a fac
    But then, I’m scared anywhere I might get hurt
    Danger an’ me, we jus’ don’ flirt

    Cashel Boylo

  5. Steve Horn

    September 4, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I assume that he’s planning on bringing some LIVE troops home – if that’s the case it’ll likely be a token number just in time for Christmas – they’ll make a big deal about it and beat their chests.

    It’s equally likely that after the photo ops and press releases the same troops will be headed from Iraq to Afghanistan or some other crisis location Bush and company have created –

  6. mary cali

    September 4, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Why would anyone believe anything Bush has to say? I think his talking about bringing troops home is bait and switch. Mostly, he is trying to hang on to his enabling Republicans, so they don’t cut and run and vote with the Dems on redeployment.

  7. acf

    September 4, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Forgive me for being cynical, and not believing him, but why should I? I see this is nothing more than another trick to try and buy more time for his so called surge. Just because he used words implying a possible troop reduction, doesn’t mean that he means it. It only means that is the tactic he thinks he needs to prolong things a little more. In the 2006 election, we said enough. We didn’t say lets discuss it.

  8. bryan mcclellan

    September 4, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    I wondered about your absence Seal,it wasn’t long but I noticed none the less.Get as well as you can and please continue to get better. We need your voice here to bounce things around with us,always ,I enjoy your posts.Don’t know if you’ve heard but Gene went Awol on us,hope he comes to miss us and returns for another round. The above article really encapsulates the smirko agenda for me.The republican party is in the dying cockroach position and smirk is grasping at anything that will flip them back on their feet so they can scurry out of sight when the lights come on Sept 15.It truly is a sad state of affairs we are in, when Congress allows smirk to publicly patronize them as if they were children,and we hear very little if any indignation from them.Again get well friend.PMFOT.

  9. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    September 5, 2007 at 2:55 am

    Yeah, just another Chimp manuver by the Chimp.

    Glad your back online Seal.

    Sorry the first thing you had to see after recovering was the Chimp.