Can Bush still sell his Iraq war?

President Bush took advantage of a vacationing Congress, a surprise visit to once-restive Anbar province and supportive words from Australia’s prime minister to trumpet his claims of progress in Iraq. Now he must press his case to skeptical lawmakers and a war-weary U.S. public.

The coming week may be his last opportunity to shift the debate — or at least to give Republicans political cover and throw Democrats off stride.

The White House rollout strategy envisions a presidential speech to the nation, either Thursday or Friday.

Next week will start off with testimony to Congress on Monday and Tuesday by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, widely admired by both

Bush says some U.S. troop reductions might be justified if security continues to rise. But the basic evolving administration message to Congress appears to be: give the buildup some more time — perhaps into early next year — since it seems to be working.

“We’re going to succeed in Iraq,” Bush told a business audience here for the annual gathering of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

That this year’s APEC meeting was held in Australia turned out to be a gift to the White House.

Not only did it provide an opportunity to go to Iraq — it’s sort of on the way if you head east to west — but Prime Minister John Howard, the host, is an unabashed supporter of Bush’s Iraq policy, perhaps the last among world leaders.

With former British Prime Minister Tony Blair gone from office and British troops leaving southern Iraq, Howard’s defiant insistence that the roughly 1,600 Australian troops now in Iraq would remain must have been music to Bush’s ears.

Even though Howard’s own political career may soon be ended because of his support for that unpopular war, his strong backing of Bush’s military buildup came at just the right time as the president braced to face his congressional critics upon his return.

Congress’ recess also gave the president a chance to command headlines.

“He has taken advantage of the absence of Congress to buy time,” said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But claims of progress by Bush and Petraeus don’t always match developments seen by others, and there’s a limit to how much additional time Bush can buy. “A lot of these issues are going to counterbalance what he says,” said Cordesman.

Michele Flournoy, a Pentagon strategist during the Clinton administration, said the administration is clearly “trying to keep the ‘surge’ at least until next spring, its natural end.” That’s when the first of the 30,000 additional troops Bush sent to Iraq start returning home.

“Then they’ll declare a degree of victory,” she suggested. And since there is not enough consensus in the Democratic-run Congress to block Bush’s plan, “were in for more of the same,” Flournoy said.

Snow, the presidential spokesman, said that Bush will try to “restage the debate” to be more bipartisan and more reflective of national-interest concerns.

“It would be kind of nice to break through the idea that the war has be a cleavage point and that, to be a good Democrat you have to be against it. Frankly, you’ve seen a number of Democrats coming back (from Iraq) saying, ‘No, well, we see real progress,'” he said.

He acknowledged dissent on the Republican side, and conceded, “It’s an issue where people certainly can have dissenting views.”


Associated Press writers Terence Hunt in Washington and Deb Riechmann in Sydney, Australia, contributed to this report.


  1. justanothercoverup

    And what impact will the recent video from Osama Bin Laden have on this mess, and we can already see how Bush and The Republican Learning Channel are already spinning it – and this time, I believe in their utter arrogance, they missed something very important. The next couple of weeks will tell – but I’m not optimistic at all – IF it was really Bin Laden that was on the tape!

    Fox News Spins Bin Laden’s New Video and The War on Terror

    William Cormier

  2. SEAL

    Osama bin Laden always pops up when Bush needs him doesn’t he? Sometimes I wonder if Osama isn’t residing in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House with 24 hour room service. He certainly looks healthy for a man on dialysis living in a cave. Where do they plug that machine in? Has anyone looked for a really long extension cord across those mountains? Or listened for the sound of a generator? How many years is it Osama bin Hiden, now? Gee! We can’t find him. But here is his latest video. And right on time, too. Uh Huh.

  3. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Pops up just like a Jack-in-the-box. Osama bin Laden just seems totally surreal to me like a cartoon.

  4. SEAL

    Oh hell! You have no idea how infuriating this whole OBL lying crap is for me. Just turn over all the intel you have about him and assign the “mission” of his capture or kill to my guys and they will be back in a very short time with him or his head in a bag or proof that he has been dead for however long he has been dead. Dammit, that is what we do.

    The fact that they have not given the mission to the SEALs is proof that they are liars and do not want him caught.

  5. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    I just feel empty Seal, I called and called my former
    Democratic reps to no avail, and no surprise the Dems are scratching their chins, lining up behind the LYING KING, Dubya-Shrub, and saying,”Well, we should give Shrub a chance”. I’m totally proud to have become an Independent, took me awhile, but I ditched the Democrat Party.

  6. acf

    How many ‘last opportunities’ does he get. In the 2006 elections, we told him enough, that was the end. It wasn’t an invitation to discuss, to drag things out some more, in hopes that a legacy saving miracle would save him.

  7. keith

    We have to remember that this is a President who heads an Administration that invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq without anything approaching “just cause” and whose legions have been absolutely stalemated since that time (for over four years now) in their occupation of a country with a pre-war GDP less than that of Fairfax County, Virginia.

    Yet, when asked what his exit strategy was, all we heard for years was that we must “stay the course”. Then, we were told that it was never about “stay the course”. Nowhere did he define just what that “stay the course” meant, nor how or when we would know that we’ve arrived at the end of that “course”.

    And, we STILL don’t know! Even now, our President tells us that we are still in the “early stages” of a “new operation” in Iraq and that “more time” will be needed to see results. And I fully expect we are going to hear more of the same next week when General Petraeus testifies before Congress.

    But such rhetoric keeps begging the question as to just how much “more time” will be required. Could it simply be that the military doctrine Mr. Bush and his Cabal have now adopted HAS no exit strategy because the wars these people have started are INTENDED to be endless?

    Think not? Think again.

    This is a President who now heads an Administration that radically altered our decades-old official military doctrine from one of “retaliating if attacked” to one centered on “pre-emptive, total war”. In the process, he has now run our once proud and ready military into the ground to the point that fully two thirds of our nation’s regular Army are no longer combat ready and the REST of them are off fighting his so-called “wars of pre-emption” somewhere.

    This fact, in turn, has created another HUGE problem with his latest “surge” strategy for Iraq…Mr. Bush and his clowns are now running out of volunteer Army with which to implement his total, preemptive war strategy.

    This President has been consistently trying to wage what I’ve come to call “wars on the cheap”…not in terms of blood or treasure (which have been substantially more than any war since Viet Nam), but simply in trying to fight and win aggressive, expansionist “total” wars (plural) for which he simply doesn’t have anywhere NEAR the troops to adequately do the job.

    For example, right at the start of the latest war in Iraq, Mr. Bush and his arrogant minions apparently totally ignored their own senior Generals’ calls to go in with overwhelming force…enough troops on the ground to do the job and to also have a reasonable hope of securing the country BEFORE an insurgency could get started.

    Could it have been they simply didn’t HAVE that many spare troops to do the job? Or, were our troops deliberately withheld from the conflict so as to help insure they would have to stay there indefinitely as occupiers once the inevitable insurgency started..all in the name of helping to “secure” the country?

    What’s more, that apparent “ignorance” was compounded when Bush put his “good ol’ boy” buddy Paul Bremer in charge of running post-invasion Iraq. And what was Mr. Bremer’s first action in that role? He immediately fired the entire standing Iraq Army! So there were then tens of thousands of unemployed (not to mention hungry and restless) armed combat troops all running around with absolutely nothing to do.

    For whatever reason, Mr. Bush and his arrogant minions lost the initiative at containing insurgency right at the beginning of the war. They are now hopelessly behind the power curve to the point that they are increasingly relying on Guard and Reserve troops (not to mention recruiting 42 year olds into the Army!) to try and stem the tide. Again, was that an accident…or was that, too, part of the overall plan?

    Clearly, and by any measure, there simply aren’t enough volunteers now in the regular Army (backed up with Guard and Reserve) to do the job Mr. Bush has planned for them to do.

    Dwell times (the time “home” between combat tours) for our active duty Army have dropped from nearly 24 months down to, in some cases, little more than 8. Eight months between combat tours simply doesn’t give our military people anywhere NEAR enough time to re-train and re-arm (not to mention spending much needed time with family). Some of our troops are on their THIRD and FOURTH tours in Iraq. Is it any wonder that US military recruitment and retention are now plummeting?

    But, even IF Mr. Bush and his minions were to start TODAY to recruit more troops, those troops wouldn’t be anywhere NEAR being combat ready for at least two years.

    And, sure enough, just the other day, I read a solicitation buried in the back pages of “USA Today” where the US Army is now soliciting bids for a contractor to tell them how they might “surge” the US Army further…by at least some 72,000 troops. Am I the only one who smells the word “DRAFT” in that solicitation?

    On the surface, “Dubya” and his arrogant war-mongers went into Iraq without ANY credible objective (other than his lies about removing WMDs and “liberating Iraqis”) and without the overwhelming force that all of his senior Generals at the time clearly stated they needed.

    What’s more, and as Bob Woodward so eloquently documented in his latest book, when the initial invasion was being planned, there was nothing even APPROACHING a clear exit strategy nor planning for securing the country once Bush and his Cabal had finished killing people and breaking things.

    That, too, begs the obvious question: Why?

    It is now painfully evident that we are going to be tied up in Iraq for DECADES, regardless of all the lofty withdrawal projections we’ve been fed…including all the BS Bush and his minions are now feeding us about needing “more time” to “do the job”.

    Or, to put it another way, when the “job” becomes endless, there will NEVER be enough time to complete it.

    And, could it be that what we have been calling Mr. Bush’s blatant military and policy “mistakes” up to now and his need for “more time” for the surge to work are simply stall tactics to disguise his REAL plan…the one that says our troops aren’t going to be coming home anytime in this decade?

    Could it also be that Mr. Bush’s grand plans for world military domination also include now setting our country up for a re-institution of the military draft because he’s effectively run out of volunteer military forces to support his “total war” strategy in so many faraway places that he’s now left the wimps in Congress no other option BUT to re-institute it?

    Unfortunately, it is becoming ever more apparent that Mr. Bush’s REAL plan for our nation has ALWAYS been for the United States to occupy countries like Iraq indefinitely. And if THAT objective is now revealed as “the course” Mr. Bush has been referring to when he tells us we must “stay the course”, then all the apparent “mistakes” Mr. Bush and his minions have committed in their handling of Iraq up to now begin to make absolute, perfect sense.

    He’s simply been setting our country up so that we we will have absolutely NO OTHER CHOICE but to keep supporting his imperialistic, “total wars” long after he’s out of office.

  8. Carl Nemo

    Absolutely superb analysis of the situation we find ourselves at the hands of these Bushco mattoids…! It heartens me to think that you, “Keith” and others on CHB and “out there” are of one mind when it comes to nailing- down their evil modus operandi!

    If they re-institute the draft then Canada best get ready for an increase in population… :))

    Nemo **==

  9. AustinRanter

    Not to be disrespectful to Mr. Tom Raum, author of this article, but in his opening paragraph he states, “Now he must press his case to skeptical lawmakers and a war-weary U.S. public.”

    I am very dismayed at reporters and columnist repeatedly using the term, “war-weary U.S. public. The pubic is not war-weary. Our soldiers are war-weary. The U.S. public may be frustrated and angry with government policies regarding the war…but they don’t deserve the claim of being ‘war-weary’.


  10. Soldat

    The idiot child of the former President doesn’t have to “sell” the war to the American people – Too Stupid to be President (Bush) is going to proceed no matter what we say, or what Congress may say or do.

    The US is under the thumb of a dictator, get used to it since the American people don’t have the stones to get rid of him.

  11. Citroyen

    “He has taken advantage of the absence of Congress to buy time,” said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    The congresspeople – democrats and republicans – gave him that time.
    They took their vacations and let the war rage on.

  12. SEAL

    Keith: you did a very good job of laying out what some of us knew and said from the beginning. While everyone ranted and raved at the incompetency of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld military operation and expressed how stupid they were, I told them over and over that their plan was working perfectly for them. That it was deliberately designed for failure. That the goal was endless occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. I explained the reasons why. But, for whatever reason, very few people listened to me and the others of us who had the experience and background to know what the Bush empire machine was up to.

    I became aware of their plans for world domination when daddy Bush was the VP under Reagan. I was one of the tools he used back in those days to engineer the pieces where he wanted them on his world chess board. I had to follow orders but I could tell what was being set up. I can’t go into details but Panama is a perfect example. And I know why he did not depose Saddam the first time. They were not ready for the grand plan at that time. Also, His losing the election was a set back and the Clintons were a problem. Bill Clinton was a very shrewd adversary.

    Being one of the most powerful families on the planet, they used their power to take over the media and congress and pack the judiciary and then install the incompetent son as the president and surrounded him with the right people. Now, they were ready to take over the world. That’s where we are right now. And you are correct that they are forcing congress into the position of reinstituting the draft. If they succeed in doing that, we, the people, are going to be faced with revolting or becoming a “democratic dictatorship.”

  13. SEAL

    Submitted by nuQler Ostrich on September 8, 2007 – 3:37pm.
    We have always been at war with Eurasia.
    It isn’t “we” who have been at war with Eurasia, it is the christians who have always been in conflict with the muslims.

    The christians have been spreading their religion every where they have gone throughout history by whatever means necessary. Usually that included war or some form of force. In most cases, christianity was simply the excuse for them to take what they wanted. The americas are a classic example of that. But the muslim nations have always been successfull in preventing them from conquering, just as they are today.

    They know why we are in their country. This is just a continuation of the holy wars for them. Why do you think they want Isreal out of their land? There will never be peace between them and Isreal because they are christians on muslim land. The only way to end the “terrorism war” is for the christians to get out and stay out of muslim territory and stop interferring in their lives. If we and all the other christian nations would do that, they would be very friendly with us and do business with us and no more bombing, etc. This is what most of the christian nations ( particularly the US) do not understand in their arrogant attitude of superiority.