Bush claims Iraq ‘back on track’

President George W. Bush said on Saturday his goal of reducing troop numbers in Iraq by July was on track but called on Syria and Iran to stop fueling violence in the war-torn country.

He made his comments after meeting his top political and military commanders in Iraq at a US base in Kuwait, where he also addressed hundreds of the American troops stationed in the oil-rich emirate.

After talks with General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Iraq, and US ambassador Ryan Crocker, Bush told reporters Washington was on track to reduce the number of brigades to 15 from the current 20.

"The levels of violence are significantly reduced. Hope is returning to Baghdad and hope is returning to the towns and the villages throughout Iraq," he said.

"One Army brigade and one Marine Expeditionary Unit have already come home, and they will not be replaced. In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit."

Syria "needs to further reduce the flow of terrorists, especially suicide bombers. Iran must stop supporting the militia special groups that attack Iraqi and coalition forces, and kidnap and kill Iraqi officials," he added.

"Iran's role in fomenting violence has been exposed — Iranian agents are in our custody, and we are learning more about how Iran has supported extremist groups with training and lethal aid."

Bush's comments came only day after he conceded that US forces could stay for a decade in Iraq, which is still gripped by bombings almost five years on from the US-led invasion despite last year's troop "surge."

Asked in an interview with NBC television whether the US military presence might last 10 years, Bush said: "It could easily be that, absolutely."

A surprise visit to Iraq by the US president has not been ruled out during his tour of the region, which is aimed at promoting Middle East peace and seeking support from his efforts to contain what he calls the Iranian "threat."

US commanders have repeatedly accused Iran of helping Shiite militias in Iraq and said Syria was not doing enough to stop insurgents crossing the border to fight against American troops.

Bush spoke to a crowd of about 1,500 US troops at Camp Arifjan, one of Washington's largest military bases in the region and one of several in Kuwait, which served as a springboard for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

"You are doing the hard work necessary to protect the United States of America because you have defeated an enemy overseas so we don't have to meet them at home," Bush said.

He described the fight against terrorism as an "ideological struggle," adding: "History will show that the best way to defeat the ideology of hate is with an ideology of hope."

The US president has been to Iraq three times since the invasion, most recently in September last year, but his strategy in the war-ravaged country is increasingly unpopular at home.

He is in Kuwait on a four-nation Gulf trip aimed in party to rally the support of Sunni Arab allies in his campaign to isolate Shiite Iran and to win backing for his goal to strike a Middle East peace deal by the time he leaves office in January 2009.

At the start of his tour in Israel on Wednesday, Bush warned that Iran posed "a threat to world peace" and should not be allowed to develop the know-how to build a nuclear weapon. Iran denies seeking nuclear arms.

But Gulf states are wary about any military action against their neighbor and Kuwaiti officials have said the emirate will not allow the United States to use its territory as a launchpad for any strike on Iran.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated on the eve of Bush's tour over a naval confrontation in the strategic Strait of Hormuz last Sunday in which the Pentagon said US warships were threatened by Iranian speedboats.

The Pentagon has since said that Iranian speedboats approached US naval vessels in two other incidents in December, including one in which a US warship fired warning shots.

"Please do not misread restraint for lack of resolve," the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, said in Washington.

Tehran has accused Washington of using the incident in the waterway — a vital conduit for energy supplies — as a propaganda stunt to paint Iran in a bad light during Bush's trip.

After Kuwait, Bush heads on Friday to Bahrain — which hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet — then on to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia before wrapping up his tour in Egypt.

He arrived in Kuwait after making his first presidential trip to Israel and the West Bank, where he said he believed a peace treaty would be signed within a year and called on Arab nations to reach out to the Jewish state.


  1. bryan mcclellan

    Tinkertoy boy would better serve all the world if he would go clear brush in Texas and disappear into the dark shadows of the history that is his creation.This junket to form some kind of legacy will fail because a failure has undertaken it.This is but another attempt to stir the pot of NWO crap and fear he’s been trying to foist on America and the other side of the world.My gut tells me he wants those units coming out of Iraq to get a good rest so they will be ready for war with Iran.His mission is not to broker peace but to further inflame the region so he can say “Told you so” and fulfill his Messiah complex.Sounds crazy?Not when you take into account,Mission Accomplished, his greatest lie.

  2. Sandra Price

    Something has bothered me for many months. My affiliation with the GOP was severed, not so much by Bush’s actions of corruption but the Republican Conservatives who had been my political base for many years. It suddenly became aware to me that this group backed the corrupt actions surrounding 9/11, the illegal war, the lying of the Pentagon, CIA and even the FBI. Every decent American action was tainted by this Republican group who fell into the action of destroying Islam.

    Even today, when I support Ron Paul, I have been insulted and assaulted by fellow Republicans. I use to have easily a dozen sites that I could discuss political actions but that is over as I have been labeled some pretty disgusting names.

    I know one thing, I have to get off this damn internet and try to locate people around me in Arizona who are open to broader views of our culture. It’s over for me. On CSPAN this morning, one woman called in in tears. She wanted Bush out immediately as he could destroy us in the next 10 months. I agree and have run out of arguments against the greatest terrorist ever to be elected President.

  3. Bill Jonke

    What track? Back from where? Why are we there? What’s the big point of it? What real positives do we expect to reap by this war? What are we gaining, or should I say, how much more are we losing, aside from the obvious?

    This has everything to do with Georgie’s little microcosm attached to a malignant growth in his pea-brain.

    Politics will always be here, whether we like it or not. But for someone to do nothing better than to rely on them at such a large volume for his own warped power trip is atrocious!

    Impeach this morsel of nationalized Tammany trash and his minions!

  4. JoyfulC

    Well, then, if Iraq is “back on track” then I’m sure we’ll see George and Laura relocating there after he leaves the White House. After all, why wouldn’t he choose to live in the centre of his finest achievement?

    At the very least, now that things are “back on track,” Bush, Rice and other American bigwigs won’t have to sneak in anymore, right? In fact, if things are going so great, they should be able to announce their visits in advance so that everyday Iraqis have the chance to turn out and greet their liberators.

    Of all the things that this administration has screwed up, I think I resent them their hamhanded attempts at public relations the most. Disgraceful!

  5. Warren

    What did we expect him to say? “Jeez, this is all fucked up?” He’d just met with Petraeus and his cronies What did they tell Bush – “Jeez, this is all fucked up”? Sure. This stuff is so transparent that it turns my stomach to believe that we are expected to believe it. More so that so many of us apparently do.

  6. Carl Nemo

    What’s most amazing about this continuing Iraqi debacle is that with a greater majority of Americans demanding we exit the region their local traitor; ie., their Congressional District rep continues to ignore their mandate;ie., supporting Bushco regardless of party affiliation. There’s too many “Blue-dog” democrats that might as well be republicans based on their voting record. There’s also no shortage of tone-deaf republican reps that are outright ignoring their constituents too. They need to be gone asap…!

    This is the heart of the problem; ie, a patronizing, deaf-eared Congress that is arrogantly enabling Bush/Cheney to continue with this criminally inspired debacle based on cooked intelligence, courtesy of the Wolfowitz-Feith-Cheney rogue intelligence pipeline.

    They have the power to pull the plug on this engineered war and to even override the Senate, if they choose not to support a withdrawal. Congress controls the purse strings and they are failing in their duty to represent “we the people”.

    I urge people that aren’t politically involved to find out the identity of your Congressional District rep. Take the time to contact them, make your demands known and let them know in no uncertain terms if you don’t see a seachange in their attitude concerning this war, then they’ve lost your vote, pork be damned. When they come up for reelection then vote for anyone other than the incumbent. Congress needs a major purging during the next several election cycles…period!

    I’ll post the duty links so folks can contact their reps.


    It’s imperative that the war be stopped so this huge wastage of taxpayer debt-money can redirected to save our nation in these ever-deteriorating times. We’re headed for longterm recession/stagflation due to the housing market debacle, the sinking dollar, the sharp rise in commodity prices, a crashing stock market and the astronomical run-up of debt associated with this protracted, engineered war; ie., Bush/Cheney’s ongoing criminal enterprise of shaking down “we the people”.

    These two guys and their minions are “nation-wreckers”, plain and simple…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. ekaton

    There are about 140 million individual tax payers in this country. The national debt is well over 9 trillion dollars now. Do the math. No. Let me do it for you. Each taxpayer in this country owes over $60,000 plus interest. When Reagan took office the national debt was around 800 billion dollars, yes, less that ONE trillion dollars. Most of this debt has been piled up supporting the military and global military operations. I laugh when I hear “social programs must be cut” while we go on borrowing trillions for wars that are only eventually going to blow back on us in vicious terror attacks or outright war due to our arrogant, ignorant, interventionist, militarist foreign policy. $750 billion a year for war is just fine. A hundred billion a year for national health insurance? Well. We just CANNOT afford it. Same with Social Security and Medicare. Sorry, folks, gotta cut benefits, no money you understand. We simply must maintain our far flung empire of 700 military bases world wide, two ongoing wars with more planned (Iran, Syria, lots of potential for African skirmishes, etc., ad infinitum) and that takes cold, hard, cash, cash borrowed from Communist Red China. All those billions spent in Viet Nam were obviously wasted, and in the end we will see all those hundreds of billions we are spending in the Middle East will have been wasted as well. The only thing that keeps our economy afloat is “defense” spending and war, so we are locked into our militarist, interventionist foreign policy or else the economic CRASH comes sooner. With more war we can hold it off for awhile but it will be inevitable. Any time China would like to bring us to our knees all they have to do is refuse to loan us any more money and simply dump the dollars they are holding. Other big dollar holders thanks to our foreign debt are Japan and Saudi Arabia, both of whom would be forced to dump dollars as well or else eat them as they become worthless. With out major changes to be accomplished yesterday we are doomed. Get ready for anarchy and chaos in this country as the rest of the world sits back and watches with pleasure as the worldwide bully drowns in the gutter.

    — Kent Shaw

  8. ekaton

    Addendum: Where do the Chinese, Japanese, and Saudis get all these trillions they loan us? Through our trade imbalance. Yearly, we buy hundreds of billions of dollars worth of manufactured goods from China and Japan and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil from Saudi Arabia.

    — Kent Shaw