President George W. Bush insisted Saturday his new war strategy in Iraq showed promise but needed more time to bear fruit as the White House fought to rebuff calls for a withdrawal of US troops.

“We are still in the early stages of our new operations,” Bush said in his weekly radio address. “But the success of the past couple of months have shown that conditions on the ground can change — and they are changing.”

In a clear jab at critics demanding a drawdown of US troops, Bush added: “We cannot expect the new strategy we are carrying out to bring success overnight.”

The president said that every month since January, US forces have killed or captured on average more than 1,500 Al-Qaeda fighters and other insurgents in Iraq.

Bush’s positive portrayal of the unpopular war, part of a broader campaign by the White House to fend off calls for an early withdrawal of US forces, came despite a plea by a prominent Republican senator to begin at least a symbolic pullout of troops.

John Warner, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and an influential voice on military issues, jolted the White House on Thursday when he called for a withdrawal of up to 5,000 US troops to “send a sharp and clear message” to the Baghdad government that the US commitment was not open-ended.

Bush has not responded directly to Warner’s call, but in his radio address he said security had improved in Iraq since his “surge strategy” deployed an extra 30,000 troops earlier this year.

Recent operations had cleared “terrorists out of population centers” and given “families in liberated Iraqi cities a safer and more normal life,” Bush said.

“As security improves, more Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy,” he said, adding that more Iraqi men were signing up for the army and that Iraqi police were patrolling streets.

Bush hopes to shore up support for the war effort among Republicans ahead of a crucial report to Congress by the top US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

The two are to present a progress report in mid-September on US efforts to quell violence and promote political stability with about 160,000 US troops now in the country.

In contrast to Bush’s upbeat assessment on Iraq, an analysis by US intelligence agencies presented Thursday offered a more pessimistic outlook. Democratic leaders in Congress cited the analysis as proof the president’s approach was a failure.

The declassified estimate confirmed some important yet fragile gains on security, but said the country’s political scene was still riven by sectarian suspicions.

“Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively” and sectarian violence “probably will intensify,” the intelligence report said.

The US military leadership also appeared divided over the right course of action in Iraq, amid reports top officers in Washington favored a major reduction of US forces soon while commanders on the ground wanted a more gradual drawdown.

The outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, denied a report that he was poised to urge Bush to cut US force levels in Iraq by nearly half next year to ease the strain the war has placed on the military.

In Iraq, US Army Major General Rick Lynch said any withdrawal this year in his area of operations around Baghdad would be “a giant step backwards,” allowing insurgents to regain sanctuaries wrested from them in tough fighting.

In Washington, Democratic lawmakers kept up calls to begin a withdrawal of US troops as they hoped for defections among moderate Republicans.

“Further pursuit of the administration’s flawed escalation strategy is not in our nation’s best interests,” Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told the Washington Post.

“The conflict in Iraq is an Iraqi political problem, not a US military problem,” said former senator and Vietnam war veteran Max Cleland in a radio address.

More than 3,700 US troops have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

“Despite this enormous sacrifice, we find ourselves mired in a civil war with no end in sight and Iraqis unable or unwilling to make the political decisions necessary to end this conflict,” Cleland said.

Bush was expected to renew his defense of his war plan on Tuesday when he addresses members of the American Legion in Reno, Nevada.

The president lashed out at war critics in an address last week, warning a US pullout from Iraq could trigger a catastrophe similar to what occurred in Southeast Asia after the US debacle in Vietnam a generation ago.


  1. To the tune of The Streets of Laredo

    My Surge In Baghdad

    The direction of the fighting’s beginning to shift
    The good news is giving me quite a lift
    There are still horrific attacks in Iraq
    But shoot, we’re winnin’, we’re hittin’ ’em back

    Incremental gains day by day in Baghdad
    The news on my surge, it sure ain’t all bad
    The high casualty rates will likely continue
    Our expectations are coming out true

    Winning block by block we are in Baghdad
    Sure the rest of Iraq is looking quite sad
    Terrorists and insurgents mount terrible attacks
    You can trust me to keep giving you all the facts

    We’re taking Iraq back one street at a time
    And after all I’ve got plenty of time
    You can’t get me out, I’ll keep decidin’ fine
    You can’t replace me till two thousand and nine

    Cashel Boylo

  2. Not as long as…

    …he has other people’s children, significant others, siblings, etc –

    …he wasn’t brave enough to go first time around – he certainly won’t do it now –


  3. Republicans get richer from every war – win or lose. This one is the mother lode. Oil, Weapons, Opium, Graft, Art Treasures and Theft. No racket should ever be abandoned when there is still something left to steal.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  4. America has always been a collection of moral and intellectual peasants. Like every other country, it is nothing but a bunch of crooks, suckers, and lazy cowards. Killing fields and concentration camps remain invisible. Reagan sure looked good, but he gave us the clap.

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  5. SEAL says: Yanno, pacplyer, the people have no conception of the impact just one month of no one going to work, making no payments, or spending any money except for absolute necessities would have. I’m not good enough to explain it all but the financial blow would be devastating to the corporations. The ecomony is running on such a fine margin that stopping the normal cash flow for only that short period of time would hit the country like a sledgehammer. Wall street would panic.

    I would suggest drawing all of your cash out of the bank first. Imagine the bank’s panic when all their depositors are lined up withdrawing all the money. Banks do not have a lot of cash, they have assets. We could break them very quickly. Hey, no bank – no payment to be made. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the oval office when Bush is told, “Mr. president our banks are under attack by the depositors. All the money is gone.” You think the 11 second freeze was something? No KKKarl to hold his hand. Cerainly, I would fall off the wall laughing.

    Most people could survive if they missed one month of work. If everyone did it, that would protect the individual. No company would fire ALL of its employees (no employees – no company) and no bank or leasing agency would attempt to foreclose or evict everyone. Besides, you won’t be forclosed or evicted for missing only one month.

    The people would just have to give up the twinkies and be economical with their life for a while to get caught up. This action should be accompanied by a list of demands and the declaration that if the demands were not met within six months there would be a TWO month strike.

    This is the power the people have over our corporate government. They just don’t know it and they are afraid. It is the corporations that should be afraid of us. Without our payments every month they have nothing. However, whomever goes public and proposes this should have plenty of insurance and a couple of my old teams living with them 24/7.

  6. More time? Was he not given a summary of the election results from November 2006? Back then, I voted to change the majority party in Congress, eliminating the rubber stamp approval he got most of his term. I also said that this was the end. It wasn’t an invitation for him to come out with one more excuse, another plan, stay the course, nothing. We’re finished, period, no more discussion. Start preparing the withdrawal. I don’t care what he could come up, for me, the game is over.

  7. A parody on what Bush is really saying as extracted from the Agence France Presse article:

    ‘Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater Security, et. al are still in the early stages of their newly devised long range taxpayer rip-off operations; but the success of the past couple of years or so have shown that conditions on the ground can change for the contractors benefit — and the changes are becoming even more lucrative than ever’…!

    Recent operations have enfranchised ‘terrorists in all the population centers” and given families in Iraqi cities a less safe and more fearful life.’

    ‘As security devolves, more Iraqi’s are stepping forward to defend Islam and the Koran, adding that more Iraqi men were signing up for the army and that Iraqi police were patrolling streets in hopes of nailing more Americans with easy backshots.’… : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. We’ve got to get this monkey off our back! He’s just trying to milk more haliburton cash to Cheney his organ-grinder. This chimp? Is the champion of Democracy?

    There is no more democracy in Iraq than there is in the U.S. using compromised diebold voting machines.

    Helll, I might as well go down and vote at the casino; I’d have better odds.

    It is time to get rid of these people, by hook or by crook. The easy first step is to quit buying things and let this mess of an economy go down the toliet where it belongs. Just stay home and blog on the net. Once the bottom line craps out for the monkey’s fortune-500 masters, then he will loose any corporate owned media protection and we can commit him as unfit to hold office.


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