Iraq Exit Strategy Watch Logo

THE LATEST

EXIT STRATEGY FROM THE IRAQ WAR

Archive: 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | early 2006 | late 2006

The Iraq war's exit strategy.

"What is the exit strategy from the war in Iraq?" you may ask.

The answer depends on whom you ask, and when.

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W. Bush, April 8, 1999.

"I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long [U.S. military forces] will be involved and when they will be withdrawn." - George W. Bush, June 4, 1999

Disclaimer: Some of these transcripts may not be exactly accurate. I have discovered that the White House sometimes 'cleans up' transcripts of what Mr. Bush actually said to make it more presentable and presidential, removing the 'umm's, 'uhh's, 'I mean's, and 'you-know's.

Updated May 02, 2007

|

Twelve weeks ago, I asked the Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that would provide our brave men and women in uniform with the funds and flexibility they need.

Instead, members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed this bill.

Tonight I will explain the reasons for this veto -- and my desire to work with Congress to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We can begin tomorrow with a bipartisan meeting with the congressional leaders here at the White House.

Here is why the bill Congress passed is unacceptable. First, the bill would mandate a rigid and artificial deadline for American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq. That withdrawal could start as early as July 1st. And it would have to start no later than October 1st, regardless of the situation on the ground.

It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing. All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength -- and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq. I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure -- and that would be irresponsible.

Second, the bill would impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat. After forcing most of our troops to withdraw, the bill would dictate the terms on which the remaining commanders and troops could engage the enemy. That means American commanders in the middle of a combat zone would have to take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, D.C. This is a prescription for chaos and confusion, and we must not impose it on our troops.

Third, the bill is loaded with billions of dollars in non-emergency spending that has nothing to do with fighting the war on terror. Congress should debate these spending measures on their own merits -- and not as part of an emergency funding bill for our troops.

The Democratic leaders know that many in Congress disagree with their approach, and that there are not enough votes to override a veto. I recognize that many Democrats saw this bill as an opportunity to make a political statement about their opposition to the war. They've sent their message. And now it is time to put politics behind us and support our troops with the funds they need.

Our troops are carrying out a new strategy with a new commander -- General David Petraeus. The goal of this new strategy is to help the Iraqis secure their capital, so they can make progress toward reconciliation, and build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and fights extremists and radicals and killers alongside the United States in this war on terror.

In January, General Petraeus was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate. In February, we began sending the first of the reinforcements he requested. Not all of these reinforcements have arrived. And as General Petraeus has said, it will be at least the end of summer before we can assess the impact of this operation. Congress ought to give General Petraeus' plan a chance to work.

In the months since our military has been implementing this plan, we've begun to see some important results. For example, Iraqi and coalition forces have closed down an al Qaeda car bomb network, they've captured a Shia militia leader implicated in the kidnapping and killing of American soldiers, they've broken up a death squad that had terrorized hundreds of residents in a Baghdad neighborhood.

Last week, General Petraeus was in Washington to brief me, and he briefed members of Congress on how the operation is unfolding. He noted that one of the most important indicators of progress is the level of sectarian violence in Baghdad. And he reported that since January, the number of sectarian murders has dropped substantially.

Even as sectarian attacks have declined, we continue to see spectacular suicide attacks that have caused great suffering. These attacks are largely the work of al Qaeda -- the enemy that everyone agrees we should be fighting. The objective of these al Qaeda attacks is to subvert our efforts by reigniting the sectarian violence in Baghdad -- and breaking support for the war here at home. In Washington last week, General Petraeus explained it this way: "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of all al Qaeda's global campaign."

Al Qaeda -- al Qaeda's role makes the conflict in Iraq far more complex than a simple fight between Iraqis. It's true that not everyone taking innocent life in Iraq wants to attack America here at home. But many do. Many also belong to the same terrorist network that attacked us on September 11th, 2001 -- and wants to attack us here at home again. We saw the death and destruction al Qaeda inflicted on our people when they were permitted a safe haven in Afghanistan. For the security of the American people, we must not allow al Qaeda to establish a new safe haven in Iraq.

We need to give our troops all the equipment and the training and protection they need to prevail. That means that Congress needs to pass an emergency war spending bill quickly. I've invited leaders of both parties to come to the White House tomorrow -- and to discuss how we can get these vital funds to our troops. I am confident that with goodwill on both sides, we can agree on a bill that gets our troops the money and flexibility they need as soon as possible.

The need to act is urgent. Without a war funding bill, the military has to take money from some other account or training program so the troops in combat have what they need. Without a war funding bill, the Armed Forces will have to consider cutting back on buying new equipment or repairing existing equipment. Without a war funding bill, we add to the uncertainty felt by our military families. Our troops and their families deserve better -- and their elected leaders can do better.

Here in Washington, we have our differences on the way forward in Iraq, and we will debate them openly. Yet whatever our differences, surely we can agree that our troops are worthy of this funding -- and that we have a responsibility to get it to them without further delay.

Thank you for listening. May God bless our troops.

 

- George W. Bush, President Bush Rejects Artificial Deadline, Vetoes Iraq War Supplemental, May 1, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070501-6.html


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush is warming up his veto muscles after the Senate passed a war funding bill Thursday that sets a deadline for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by next April.

The 51 votes cast for the bill are nowhere near the 67 needed to override a veto, which Bush says he will deliver swiftly. The House passed the same measure on a 218-208 vote Wednesday night.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said the measure funds U.S. troops in the field while acknowledging that the four-year-old war needs a political, not military, solution.

"No one wants this nation to succeed in the Middle East more than I do," Reid said. "But I know that after four years of mismanagement and incompetence by this administration in the war in Iraq, there is no magic formula, no silver bullet that will lead us to the victory we all desire."

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said demanding a withdrawal while U.S. commanders are claiming progress in pacifying the Iraqi capital would hand a victory to the al Qaeda terrorist network, which has taken root in Iraq. (Watch Republicans tell what would fix the bill )

"We must give the plan for winning the military component of the war in Iraq a real chance to succeed," said McConnell, R-Kentucky. "Without it, there is no political solution."

Thursday's vote was 51-46. Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon joined Democrats in supporting the bill. Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, voted with Republicans opposing it.

Two supporters of Bush's Iraq policy -- Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- did not vote. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, who is recovering from a brain hemorrhage, also didn't vote.

The White House quickly denounced the outcome.

"The Senate has now joined the House in passing defeatist legislation that insists on a date for surrender, micromanages our commanders and generals in combat zones from 6,000 miles away, and adds billions of dollars in unrelated spending," White House spokeswoman Dan Perino said.

Senators make their cases
Before the vote, Lieberman condemned the bill -- which he said laid out "a strategy based on catchphrases and bromides rather than military realities" -- as a guarantee of failure in the war in Iraq. (Watch Senators argue for and against the bill )

"In my opinion, Iraq is not yet lost," Lieberman said, countering a remark to the contrary Reid made last week. "But if we follow the plan in this legislation, it will be lost and so, I fear, will much of our hope for stability in the Mideast."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, argued before the vote that continuing the war defies the will of the American people and that the U.S. military "should not police Iraq's civil war indefinitely."

He defended the deadline to withdraw troops, calling it "the only realistic way to encourage the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future."

Recent polls show the war is now widely unpopular at home, with a majority of Americans favoring withdrawal.

"We hope the president will reconsider his stubbornness and his refusal to listen to the American people," Reid said.

But Reid's deputy, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, said that Bush's veto was a foregone conclusion, and the bill would be sent to the president's desk Monday or Tuesday. Durbin said Democrats would test the waters for any "dialogue" or "conversation" with Bush about a new spending bill.

Durbin said a new bill would be less "decisive" than the one passed Thursday, but he said its call for a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces could be attached to other bills -- such as the upcoming Pentagon budget or a defense policy bill.

About $100 billion of the $124 billion goes to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of that would go to Iraq, which Pentagon officials say is costing the U.S. military about $2 billion a week. It comes on top of $70 billion Congress has already approved for the current budget year.

The 218-208 House vote Wednesday night, largely along party lines, was well short of the 290 yeas needed to trump Bush. Two Republicans voted for the bill, while 13 Democrats voted it down. (Watch how the battle between Congress and Bush is nearing a climax )

The Pentagon has said it can fund the war through June. Without the additional appropriations, the Pentagon will have to begin shifting money and deferring projects to find the funds to continue the wars.

 

- Senate passes Iraq withdrawal bill; veto threat looms, CNN, April 26, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/26/congress.iraq/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Moving closer to a veto showdown with President Bush, the House late Wednesday narrowly approved a bill funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that sets a goal of withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq next year.

The final vote on the $124 billion funding bill was 218-208, with two members voting present. The tally was largely along party lines, with just two Republicans voting for it and 13 Democrats voting against.

The Senate will take up the bill Thursday morning, setting up a likely confrontation with Bush, who has repeatedly vowed to veto any appropriations measure that contains a timetable for withdrawing troops.

Reacting to the House vote, White House spokeswoman Dana Petrino said the bill was "disappointing legislation that insists on a surrender date, handcuffs our generals and contains billions of dollars in spending unrelated to the war."

"Tonight, the House of Representatives voted for failure in Iraq, and the president will veto its bill," she said in a statement.

 

- House passes Iraq withdrawal timetable, CNN, April 25, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/25/congress.iraq/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network.


U.S. stay limited, Gates warns Iraqis
The Pentagon chief presses the government to pass laws aimed at curbing sectarian strife. He stops just short of setting a deadline.

- U.S. signals impatience with Iraq's pace
- In Baghdad, U.S. troops build wall to curb violence

BAGHDAD — In the latest warning from Washington that America's patience is wearing thin, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Iraqi government officials Friday that they need to pass legislation aimed at easing sectarian tension before this summer, when the U.S. military will conduct a formal evaluation of its troop increase in Iraq.

Gates stopped short of announcing a deadline, but he used some of his most forthright language to date to make clear to the Iraqi government that American soldiers would not remain on Baghdad streets indefinitely. "Our commitment to Iraq is long term, but it is not a commitment to have our young men and women patrolling Iraq's streets open-endedly," Gates said.

Meeting with Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, the Defense secretary said that he did not want the Iraqi parliament to take its summer recess, scheduled for July and August, unless it first acted on a series of reconciliation laws, such as measures to share the country's oil wealth and allow provincial elections.

The Bush administration is hoping that political and economic agreements among the Shiite Muslim-led government, its Kurdish allies and the minority Sunni Arab population will help to tamp down sectarian violence on Baghdad's streets and beyond.

Over time, U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and even President Bush, have warned of growing impatience with the status quo.

"I constantly signal to the Iraqi leaders that our patience, or the patience of the American people, is running out," Khalilzad said at a news conference before departing Iraq in late March.

Nevertheless, Iraqi politicians have made little progress on key benchmarks for progress such as the oil issue and initiatives to allow Sunnis who had worked in Saddam Hussein's government to return to government jobs.

And despite the pressure from Gates, there is broad skepticism among many mid-level American military officers in Iraq that the two sides are ready to compromise. One such officer said it would be difficult to establish real security in Baghdad until the Shiite and Sunni Muslim factions tired of fighting each other and had a realistic sense of their demographic and military power.

"I don't know whether these guys are ready to quit," the officer said. "I don't know the answer, but I know that it is the critical question."

Gates said Friday that he and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, would evaluate the effectiveness of the Bush administration's troop buildup strategy in Baghdad this summer before deciding whether it should continue.

In a joint news conference with Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim Mifarji after his meetings, Gates said that no other timelines besides the summer evaluation were discussed with Iraqi officials.

Gates said he told Maliki and others that the evaluation "would be enhanced by the reconciliation legislation."

"There was no other discussion of timelines," he added.

 

- Los Angeles Times, By Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer, April 21, 2007

source:  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/middleeast/la-fg-gates21apr21,0,4416572.story


This week I extended an invitation to congressional leaders of both parties to come to the White House so we can discuss the emergency war funding our troops are waiting for. When we meet on Wednesday, I look forward to hearing how Members of Congress plan to meet their responsibilities and provide our troops with the funding they need.

Supporting our troops is a solemn responsibility of all elected officials in Washington, D.C. So 68 days ago, I sent Congress an emergency war spending bill that would provide the vital funds needed for our troops on the front lines. But instead of approving this funding, Democrats in Congress have spent the past 68 days pushing legislation that would undercut our troops. They passed bills that would impose restrictions on our military commanders and set an arbitrary date for withdrawal from Iraq, giving our enemies the victory they desperately want.

The Democrats' bills also spend billions of dollars on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war, such as funding for tours of the United States Capitol and for peanut storage. And after passing these unacceptable bills in the House and Senate, Democratic leaders then chose to leave town without sending any legislation to my desk.
The Senate came back to Washington earlier this week, but the House is still on its Easter recess. Meanwhile, our troops are waiting for the funds. And to cover the shortfall, our military may be forced to consider what Army General Pete Schoomaker has called "increasingly draconian measures."

In the next few days, our military leaders will notify Congress that they will be forced to transfer $1.6 billion from other military accounts to make up for the gaps caused by Congress' failure to fund our troops in the field. That means our military will have to take money from personnel accounts so they can continue to fund U.S. Army operations in Iraq and elsewhere.

This $1.6 billion in transfer comes on top of another $1.7 billion in transfers that our military leaders notified Congress about last month. In March, Congress was told that the military would need to take money from personnel accounts, weapons and communications systems, so we can continue to fund programs that protect our troops from improvised explosive devices and send hundreds of mine-resistant vehicles to the front lines. These actions are only the beginning, and the longer Congress delays the worse the impact on the men and women of the Armed Forces will be.

I recognize that Republicans and Democrats in Washington have differences over the best course in Iraq, and we should vigorously debate those differences. But our troops should not be trapped in the middle. They have been waiting for this money long enough. Congress must now work quickly and pass a clean bill that funds our troops, without artificial time lines for withdrawal, without handcuffing our generals on the ground, and without extraneous domestic spending.

When you live in Washington, it's easy to get caught up in the complexities of legislative procedure. But for the American people, this is not a complicated debate. When Americans went to the polls last November, they did not vote for politicians to substitute their judgment for the judgment of our commanders on the ground. And they certainly did not vote to make peanut storage projects part of the funding for our troops.

The American people voted for change in Iraq, and that is exactly what our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is working to achieve. And they expect their elected leaders to support our men and women on the front lines, so they have every resource they need to complete their mission.

We owe it to the American people and to our troops and their families to deliver our full support. I will continue working with Republicans and responsible Democrats to do just that. I call on Members of Congress to put partisanship on hold, resolve their differences, and send me a clean bill that gets our troops the funds they need.

 

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, April 14, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070414.html


Today, as the United States faces a new kind of enemy and a new kind of war, the far left is again taking hold of the Democratic Party's agenda. The prevailing mindset, combined with a series of ill-considered actions in the House and Senate over the last several months, causes me to wonder whether today's Democratic leaders fully appreciate the nature of the danger this country faces in the war on terror -- a war that was declared against us by jihadists, a war in which the United States went on offense after 9/11, a war whose central front, in the opinion and actions of the enemy, is Iraq.

An early sign of unseriousness was the comment by Howard Dean, now the party chairman, that the capture of Saddam Hussein did nothing to make America safer. He made that statement several years ago while running for president, and a number of his fellow Democrats sharply criticized him. Yet now we hear almost daily the claim that the fight in Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror. Opponents of our military action there have called Iraq a diversion from the real conflict, a distraction from the business of fighting and defeating Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network. We hear this over and over again, not as an argument, but as an assertion meant to close off argument.

Yet the evidence is flatly to the contrary. And the critics conveniently disregard the words of bin Laden himself. "The most serious issue today for the whole world," he said, "is this third world war [that is] raging in [Iraq]." He calls it "a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam." He said, "The whole world is watching this war," and that it will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation." And in words directed at the American people, bin Laden declares, "The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever."

This leader of al-Qaeda has referred to Baghdad as the capital of the caliphate. He has also said, "Success in Baghdad will be success for the United States. Failure in Iraq is the failure of the United States. Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars."

Obviously, the terrorists have no illusion about the importance of the struggle in Iraq. They have not called it a distraction or a diversion from their war against the United States. They know it is a vital front in that war, and it's where they have chosen to make a stand. Our Marines are fighting al Qaeda terrorists in Anbar province. U.S. and Iraqi forces recently killed al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad, who were responsible for numerous bomb attacks. Iraq's relevance to the war on terror simply could not be more plain. Here at home, that makes one thing, above all, very clear: If you support the war on terror, then it only makes sense to support it where the terrorists are fighting us. (Applause.)

The Democratic leadership has assured us that, in any event, they support the troops in the field. They did vote to confirm General Dave Petraeus unanimously in the United States Senate -- and for good reason. General Petraeus is one of the finest military officers of his generation, an expert in counterinsurgency, a leader committed to victory, and with a strategy to achieve it.

The senators knew something else about General Petraeus. They knew he had told the Armed Services Committee that he could not do his job without reinforcements. Yet within days of his confirmation a large group of senators tried to pass a resolution opposing those very reinforcements, thereby undermining the General's mission. Over in the House of Representatives, such a resolution actually passed on the floor. As President Bush said, this may be the first time in history that a Congress "voted to send a new commander into battle and then voted to oppose the plan he said was necessary to win that battle."

In the weeks since that vote, the actions of the Democratic leadership have moved from the merely inconsistent to the irresponsible. It's now been 67 days since the President submitted the emergency supplemental request. As most Americans know by now, the House of Representatives has voted to provide the funding, but also to require that we cut the number of troops below the level that our commanders in Iraq say is necessary for victory, and further require that American forces begin withdrawing from Iraq according to a set timetable, and be gone next year regardless of circumstances on the ground.

Not before that vote had the Democrats ever managed to find enough members of the House to support a planned retreat from Iraq. So how did they manage to pass it this time? They did it by horse-trading -- by adding in all that pork-barrel spending we've heard about. And when they had the votes they needed, they stopped adding the pork, and they held the vote.

Such an outcome raises more than a little concern about the future of fiscal discipline on Capitol Hill. The implications for national security are equally obvious, and far more critical to the future of the country. An editorial by The Washington Post aptly termed the House bill an "unconditional retreat ". The legislation that passed in the Senate is no better, and that bill, also, calls for the withdrawal of American troops according to a pre-set timetable determined by members of Congress.

So this is where things stand today. The Democratic Congress has approved appropriations for a war, and attached detailed provisions for the timing and the movement of American troops. It is unacceptable, of course, from an institutional standpoint. Under the Constitution, Congress has the purse strings and the power to confirm officers. But military operations are to be directed by the President of the United States, period. (Applause.) By the wisdom of the framers, that power rests in the hands of one Commander-in-Chief, not 535 commanders-in-chief on Capitol Hill.

I might add that we don't need 535 secretaries of state, either. (Laughter and applause.) It didn't help matters when the Speaker of the House showed up in Damascus for a sit-down with Syrian president Bashar Assad. Here again, we have an instance of the new congressional leadership making a bad move and sending mixed signals about the policies and the intentions of the United States.

It is strange enough that the Speaker should do anything to anything to undermine America's careful, and successful, multilateral effort to isolate the Syrian regime. But at least one member of the Speaker's delegation saw the trip in even grander terms. He said the delegation was offering, quote, "an alternative Democratic foreign policy." Once again, we must return to a basic constitutional principle. No member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, has any business jetting around the world with a diplomatic agenda contrary to that of the President and the Secretary of State. It is for the executive branch, not the Congress, to conduct the foreign policy of the United States of America. (Applause.)

In America, above all, the Democrats -- excuse me, in Iraq, above all, the Democrats' attempt to micromanage our commanders is an unwise and perilous endeavor. It is impossible to argue that an unconditional timetable for retreat could serve the security interests of the United States or our friends in the region. Instead, it sends a message to our enemies that the calendar is their friend, that all they have to do is wait us out -- wait for the date certain, and then claim victory the day after.

This notion of a timetable for withdrawal has been specifically rejected by virtually every mainstream analysis. The report of the Baker-Hamilton commission recommended against it. The National Intelligence Estimate produced by the intelligence community said a rapid withdrawal would be ill-advised. Our military commanders believe a rigid timetable is not a good strategy. It does, perhaps, appeal to the folks at MoveOn.org.

Recently the National Commander of the American Legion said, "You cannot support the troops if you want them to cut and run. It's time for the President to veto this surrender bill and for Congress to pass a serious war-funding bill, which would provide the money without the micromanagement." Standing here today, I can assure the American Legion, and the VFW, and all the veterans organizations, and all the men and women serving at this very hour, that the President of the United States will, indeed, veto this irresponsible legislation.

Rarely in history has an elected branch of government engaged in so pointless an exercise as Congress is now doing. And yet the exercise continues. Three days ago the President invited the Democratic leaders to meet with him next week to discuss the supplemental. The majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, at first declined to do so. When Nancy Pelosi flies nearly 6,000 miles to meet with the president of Syria, but Harry Reid hesitates to drive a mile and half to meet with the President of the United States, there's a serious problem in the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Senator Reid has threatened that if the President vetoes the timetable legislation, he will send up Senator Russ Feingold's bill to de-fund Iraqi operations altogether. Yet only last November, Senator Reid said there would be no cutoff of funds for the military in Iraq. So in less than six months' time, Senator Reid has gone from pledging full funding for the military, and then full funding, but with a timetable, and then a cutoff of funding. Three positions in five months, on the most important foreign policy question facing our country and our troops.

Senator Reid, of course, was one of the many Democrats who voted for the use of force in Iraq. They are entitled, if they want now, to oppose this war. Yet Americans are entitled to question whether the endlessly shifting positions that he and others are taking are reflections of principle, or of partisanship and blind opposition to the President.

In their move to the left, many leading Democrats have turned not just against the military operation in Iraq, but against its supporters, as well. I think of the case of Senator Joe Lieberman. I've known Joe since I was secretary of defense, and we debated each other when he was Al Gore's running mate in 2000. I've run for office eight times in my career, and I have to say that Joe is the toughest opponent I've ever faced, and also the one I've most admired.

Joe and I see many issues differently. He's a center-left Democrat, and he has been throughout his career. Yet last year Joe was targeted for political extinction by his fellow Democrats. Al Gore himself, who famously endorsed Howard Dean in 2004, refused to help his former running mate, Joe Lieberman, on grounds that he doesn't get involved in primaries. Senator Lieberman's Connecticut colleague and best friend in the Senate, Chris Dodd, campaigned against him. In a tough political fight, Joe Lieberman was abandoned simply because of his firm stand on the war -- a stand he has consistently held regardless of whether the news was good or bad, or whether snapshot polls agreed or disagreed with him.

Not surprisingly, Joe Lieberman was re-elected, winning more votes than the Democratic and Republican candidates combined. The campaign against him was the political equivalent of street theater, and the voters of Connecticut showed little interest. It is tempting, I suppose, to view the current situation on Capitol Hill in the same way -- as mere posturing by a liberal element that has no chance of prevailing. But it's far more serious than that. We're talking about a congressional majority with real power and a liberal agenda that, if followed, would have serious consequences for the country.

In light of recent events, it's worth asking how things would be different if the current Democratic leadership had controlled Congress during the last five years. Would we have the terrorist surveillance program? Or the Patriot Act? Or military commissions to try unlawful combatants? All these measures have been essential to protecting the American people against enemies who are absolutely determined to cause another 9/11, or something far worse. And it's an open question, I think, whether the current Democratic leadership would have put these protections in place.

They've even created controversy over the words we use to describe the challenges now facing America. According to news accounts, one committee in the House has decided to stop using the phrase, "Global War on Terrorism." I'm left to wonder -- which part of that phrase is the problem? Do they deny the struggle is global, after the enemy has declared the ambition of building a totalitarian empire that stretches from Europe around to Indonesia? Do they deny this is a war, in which one side will win and the other will lose? Do they deny that it's terror that we're fighting, with unlawful combatants who wear no uniform, who reject the rules of warfare, and who target the innocent for indiscriminate slaughter?

That's the nature of the fight we're in. We can't wish it away, or define it away. In Iraq, while extremists are trying to stir an endless cycle of violence, where al Qaeda is operating and trying to open new fronts, where an elected government is going about the hard work of political reconciliation, the United States has interests at stake, and promises to keep.

The ultimate solution in that country will be a political solution, but reconciliation cannot be reached in an atmosphere of violence and instability. So we are there, alongside Iraqi forces, to bring security to Baghdad. Together our forces have carried out thousands of patrols. We have set up joint security stations and combat posts in the capital city, we've seized hundreds of weapons caches, found and cleared hundreds of improvised explosive devices, detained suspected killers and bomb makers, and found and destroyed car bomb factories.

Our new strategy in Iraq is still in its early stages of implementation. Roughly half of the reinforcements have arrived, and as General Petraeus has said , it'll be a while before we can fully assess how well it's working. But there's one thing the American people already know: The men and women we've sent to carry out this mission are brave and decent. They and their families represent the best in the American character, and we are proud of each and every one of them.

The good men and women serving in the war on terror, on every front, are staring evil in the face. Some of them will not make it home. They can never be sure what the next day will bring. But they're giving it all they have, and we owe them the same. Both political parties, both elected branches, both houses of Congress need to unite and back up our military 100 percent, leaving no uncertainty about whether this country supports them and what they're doing. They deserve this support so they can finish the job and get it done right, and return home to an America made safer by their courage.

The United States is keeping its commitments, and persevering despite difficulty, because we understand the consequences of getting out before the job is done. History provides its own lessons, and none perhaps is better than the example of Afghanistan in the 1980s. During those years, Afghanistan was a major front in the Cold War. The strategic significance was clear to all, and the United States was heavily engaged in the area, supporting the Mujahedin against the Soviets. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, everybody walked away from Afghanistan. From that point on, extremist factions began to vie for power. Civil war broke out. By the end of the 1990s, the Taliban had an iron grip on the country, and was hosting Osama bin Laden and the training camps for terrorists that led directly to the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

The consequences of walking away from Afghanistan were severe, but perhaps hard to foresee prior to 9/11. But no one could plead ignorance of the potential consequences of walking away from Iraq now, withdrawing coalition forces before Iraqis could defend themselves. Moderates would be crushed. Shiite extremists backed by Iran could be in an all-out war with Sunni extremists led by al Qaeda and remnants of the old Saddam Hussein regime.

As this battle unfolded, Sunni governments might feel compelled to back Sunni extremists in order to counter growing Iranian influence, widening the conflict into a regional war. If Sunni extremists prevailed, al Qaeda and its allies could recreate the safe haven they lost in Afghanistan, except now with the oil wealth to pursue weapons of mass destruction and they could underwrite their own designs, including against our friends in the region. If Iran's allies prevailed, the regime in Teheran's own designs for the Middle East would be advanced, and the threat to our friends in the region would only be magnified.

We must consider, as well, just what a precipitous withdrawal would mean to our efforts in the war on terror, and to our interests in the broader Middle East. Having tasted victory in Iraq, jihadists would look about for new missions. Many would head for Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. Others would set out for capitals across the Middle East, spreading more discord as they eliminate dissenters and work to undermine moderate governments, in what the terrorist Zawahiri has called a "jihad wave." Still others would find their targets and victims in other countries on other continents.

What would it say to the world if we left high and dry those millions of people who have counted on the United States to keep its commitments? And what would it say to leaders like President Karzai in Afghanistan and President Musharraf in Pakistan, who risk their lives every day as fearless allies in the war on terror? Critics enjoy pointing out mistakes through the perceptive power of hindsight. But the biggest mistake of all can be seen in advance: A sudden withdrawal of our Coalition would dissipate much of the effort that's gone into fighting the global war on terror, and result in chaos and mounting danger. And for the sake of our own security, we will not stand by and let it happen.

This nation has chosen a better course. Instead of allowing problems to simmer, instead of allowing threats to gather thousands of miles away and assume they won't find us at home, we've decided to face our challenges squarely. We offer a vision of freedom, justice, and self government as a superior alternative to ideologies of violence, anger, and resentment. We believe, and we know, that free institutions and human liberty provide the best long-term hope of progress for nations, and peace for the world.

The course we have chosen is not an easy one for America. But it will be far easier on the conscience of America when we see it through, sparing millions from suffering, and leaving behind a free and democratic Iraq. Although the current political environment in our country carries echoes of the hard left in the early '70s, America will not again play out those old scenes of abandonment, and retreat, and regret. Thirty-five years is time enough to have learned the lessons of that sad era. When the United States turns away from our friends, only tragedy can follow, and the lives and hopes of millions are lost forever.

Ladies and gentlemen: not this time. Not on our watch.  This cause is bigger than the quarrels of party and the agendas of politicians. At this hour in our history, it is the cause of America -- and the best among us are fighting and sacrificing for its success. And if we in Washington, all of us, can only see our way clear to work together, then the outcome is not in doubt. We will press on in this mission, and we will turn events towards victory.

 

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney,  Remarks to the Heritage Foundation, April 13, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070413-2.html


And then we're doing the hard work in Iraq. I made a decision to remove a dictator, a tyrant who was a threat to the United States, a threat to the free world, and a threat to the Iraq people -- and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

And now we're undertaking the difficult and dangerous work of helping the Iraqi people establish a functioning democracy. I think it's necessary work to help them establish a functioning democracy. It's necessary because it is important for the moderate people -- people who want to live in peace and security -- to see what is possible in the Middle East. It is hard work because we face an enemy that understands the consequences of liberty taking root, and are willing to kill innocent lives in order to achieve their political objectives.

A minority -- and I emphasize "minority" -- of violent extremists have declared that they want to turn that country into a terrorist base from which to launch an ideological war in the Middle East and attacks on the United States of America. That is the stated objective of al Qaeda in Iraq. It's important that we listen to the enemy. It's important we take their threats seriously.

In contrast, however, the vast majority of Iraqis have made it clear they want to live in peace. After all, about 12 million of them went to the polls -- a feat that was, again, unimaginable in the mid-1990s. If you had said, can you imagine Iraqis being able to vote for a constitution and then a government under that constitution in the mid-1990s, they would have said, you're too idealistic, that's impossible. And, yet, that's what happened.

The terrorists, recognizing that this country was headed toward a society based upon liberty, a society based upon an ideology that is the opposite of what they believe, struck. And they struck by blowing up the Golden Mosque of Samarra, which is a holy shrine, a holy site. It's a site that a lot of people hold dear in their heart. And they were attempting to provoke retaliation by a segment of that society -- the Iraqi Shia. And they succeeded. And the result was a tragic escalation of violence.

And in the face of the violence -- in other words, there was reprisal, people said, we're going to get even, how dare these people do this -- and in the face of this violence, I had a choice to make. See, we could withdraw our troops from the capital of Iraq and hope that violence would not spiral out of control, or we could send reinforcements into the capital in the hopes of quelling sectarian violence, in order to give this young democracy time to reconcile, time to deal, with the politics necessary for a government that can sustain itself and defend itself to emerge.

I made the decisions after -- to reinforce. But I didn't do it in a vacuum. I called in our military commanders and experts, and I listened to a lot of opinions -- and there's a lot of opinions in Washington, D.C., in case you hadn't noticed. (Laughter.) The opinions that matter a lot to me are what our military folks think. After all, this is a military operation, and as the Commander-in-Chief, you must listen to your military and trust their judgment on military matters. And that's what I did.

They recognized what I recognized, and it's important for the American citizen to recognize this, that if we were to have stepped back from Baghdad before the Iraqis were capable of securing their capital, before they had the troops trained well enough to secure the capital, there would have been a vacuum that could have easily been filled by Sunni and Shia extremists, radicals that would be bolstered by outside forces. In other words, the lack of security would have created an opportunity for extremists to move in. Most people want to live in peace in Iraq. There are extremists who can't stand the thought of a free society that would have taken advantage of the vacuum. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country, and in time the violence could affect the entire region.

What happens in the Middle East matters here in America. The terrorists would have emerged under this scenario more emboldened. They would have said, our enemy, the United States, the enemy that we attacked, turns out to be what they thought: weak in the face of violence, weak in the face of challenge. They would have been able to more likely recruit. They would have had new safe haven from which to launch attacks. Imagine a scenario in which the extremists are able to control oil revenues to achieve economic blackmail, to achieve their objectives. This is all what they have stated. This is their ambition.

If we retreat -- were to retreat from Iraq, what's interesting and different about this war is that the enemy would follow us here. And that's why it's important we succeed in Iraq. If this scenario were to take place, 50 years from now people would look back and say, "What happened to those folks in the year 2007? How come they couldn't see the danger of a Middle East spiraling out of control where extremists competed for power, but they shared an objective which was to harm the United States of America? How come they couldn't remember the lesson of September the 11th, that we were no longer protected by oceans and chaos and violence, and extremism could end up being a serious danger to the homeland?"

That's what went through my mind as I made a difficult decision, but a necessary decision. And so rather than retreat, I sent more troops in. Rather than pull back, I made the decision to help this young democracy bring order to its capital so there can be time for the hard work of reconciliation to take place after years of tyrannical rule, brutal tyrannical rule.

And now it's time for these Iraqis, the Iraqi government, to stand up and start making some -- making some strong political moves. And they're beginning to. I speak to the Prime Minister quite often and remind him that here at home we expect them to do hard work; we want to help, but we expect them to do some hard work. And he reminds me, sometimes legislative bodies and parliaments don't move as quickly as the executive branch would like. (Laughter.) But he understands. He understands we expect them to spend money on their reconstruction, and they've committed $10 billion to do so.

They understand that when we said we were going to send more troops in, you need to send more troops into Baghdad, that we expect them to, and they have. They understand that when we work together to set up a security plan where there is a top military figure in charge of Baghdad's security from the Iraq side, that we expect somebody there who is going to be non-sectarian and implement security for all the people of Baghdad, they responded. See, the understand that. And now we expect them to get an oil law that helps unify the country, to change the de-Baathification law so that, for example, Sunni teachers that had been banned from teaching are allowed back in the classroom, and that there be provincial elections. And we'll continue to remind them of that.

In sending more troops -- in other words, in sending troops in, it is -- I recognize that this is more than a military mission. It requires a political response from the Iraqis, as well.

The Iraqi people, by the way, have already made a political response; they voted. (Laughter.) I also sent a new commander in, General David Petraeus. He is an expert in counterinsurgency warfare. He's been in Baghdad two months. A little less than half of -- only about half of the reinforcements that he's asked for have arrived. In other words, this operation is just getting started. There's kind of, I guess, knowledge or a thought in Washington that all you got to say is send 21,000 in and they show up the next day; that's not the way it works. (Laughter.) It takes a while for troops to be trained and readied and moved into theater. And that's what our military is doing now.

And there are some encouraging signs. There's no question it's violent, no question the extremists are dangerous people. But there are encouraging signs. Iraqi and American forces have established joint security stations across Baghdad. As you might remember, we had a strategy of clear, hold and build. Well, because we didn't have enough troops, nor did the Iraqis have enough troops, we would do the clear part, but we didn't do the hold part, and so it made it hard to do the build part. And now because of our presence and more Iraqi troops, along with coalition troops, they're deployed 24 hours a day in neighborhoods to help change the psychology of the capital, that for a while was comfortable in its security, and then violence began to spiral out of control. That's the decision point I had to make, do you try to stop it? And what I'm telling you is, according to David Petraeus, with whom I speak on a weekly basis, we're beginning to see some progress toward the mission -- that they're completing the mission.

Our troops are also training Iraqis. In other words, part of the effort is not only to provide security to neighborhoods, but we're constantly training Iraqis so that they can do this job. The leaders want to do the job. Prime Minister Maliki makes it clear he understands it's his responsibility. We just want to make sure that when they do the job, they've got a force structure that's capable of doing the job. So that's why I rely upon our commanders, like General Petraeus, that let me know how well the Iraqis are doing. So it's the combination of providing security in neighborhoods through these joint security stations, and training that is the current mission we're going through, with a heavy emphasis on security in Baghdad.

Iraqis see our forces out there, joint forces, both coalition and Iraqi forces, and they have confidence. And as a result of the confidence, they're now cooperating more against the extremists. Most people want to live in peace. Iraqi mothers, regardless of their religious affiliation, want their children to grow up in a peaceful world. They want there to be opportunities. They don't want their children to be subject to random murder. They expect our government to provide security. And when the government doesn't provide security, it causes a lack of confidence. And they're beginning to see more security, and so people are coming into the stations and talking about different -- giving different tips about where we may be able to find the extremists or radicals who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives.

We're using the information wisely. And I say "we" -- every time I say "we," it's just not American troops, there are brave Iraqi troops with us. Our forces have launched successful operations against extremists, both Shia and Sunni. My attitude is, if you're a murderer, you're a murderer, and you ought to be held to account. Recently, Iraqi and American forces captured the head of a Baghdad car bomb network that was responsible for the attacks that you see on your TV screens -- some of the attacks you see on your TV screen.

Look, these people are smart people, these killers. They know that if they can continue the spectacular suicide bombings they will cause the American people to say, is it worth it? Can we win? Is it possible to succeed? And that really speaks to the heart of the American people, I think. I mean, we are a compassionate people. We care about human life. And when we see the wanton destruction of innocent life, it causes us to wonder whether or not it is possible to succeed. I understand that.

But I also understand the mentality of an enemy that is trying to achieve a victory over us by causing us to lose our will. Yet we're after these car bombers. In other words, slowly but surely these extremists are being brought to justice by Iraqis, with our help. Violence in Baghdad, sectarian violence in Baghdad, that violence that was beginning to spiral out of control is beginning to subside. And as the violence decreases, people have more confidence, and if people have more confidence, they're then willing to make difficult decisions of reconciliation necessary for Baghdad to be secure and this country to survive and thrive as a democracy.

The reinforcements are having an impact, and as more reinforcements go in, it will have a greater impact. Remember, only about half of the folks we've asked to go in are there.

It's now been 64 days since I have requested that Congress pass emergency funding for these troops. We don't have all of them there. About half more are going to head in. We're making some progress. And 64 days ago, I said to the United States Congress, these troops need funding. And instead of proving [sic] that vital funding, the Democrat leadership in Congress has spent the past 64 days pushing legislation that would undercut our troops, just as we're beginning to make progress in Baghdad. In both the House and the Senate, majorities have passed bills that substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our commanders on the ground. They set arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq, and they spend billions of dollars on pork barrel projects and spending that are completely unrelated to this war.

Now, the Democrats who pass these bills know that I'll veto them, and they know that this veto will be sustained. Yet they continue to pursue the legislation. And as they do, the clock is ticking for our troops in the field. In other words, there are consequences for delaying this money. In the coming days, our military leaders will notify Congress that they will be forced to transfer $1.6 billion from other military accounts to cover the shortfall caused by Congress's failure to fund our troops in the field. That means our military will have to take money from personnel accounts so they can continue to fund U.S. Army operations in Iraq and elsewhere.

This $1.6 billion in transfers come on top of another $1.7 billion in transfers that our military leaders notified Congress about last month. In March, Congress was told that the military would need to take money from military personnel accounts, weapons and communications systems so we can continue to fund programs to protect our soldiers and Marines from improvised explosive devices and send hundreds of mine-resistant vehicles to our troops on the front lines. These actions are only the beginning, and the longer Congress delays, the worse the impact on the men and women of the Armed Forces will be.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, recently testified that if Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back on equipment repair and quality of life initiatives for our Guard and Reserve forces. The Army will also be forced to consider curtailing some training for Guard and Reserve units here at home. This would reduce their readiness, and could delay their availability to mobilize for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-May, the problems grow even more acute. The Army will be forced to consider slowing or even freezing funding for its depots, where the equipment our troops depend on is repaired. They will have to consider delaying or curtailing the training of some active duty forces, reducing the availability of those the force -- of those forces to deploy overseas. And the Army may also have to delay the formation of new brigade combat teams, preventing us from getting those troops into the pool of forces that are available to deploy.

So what does that mean? These things happen: Some of our forces now deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq may need to be extended, because other units are not ready to take their places. In a letter to Congress, the Army Chief of Staff, Pete Shoemaker, recently warned, "Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures, which will impact Army readiness and impose hardships on our soldiers and their families."

The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to our veterans, it's unacceptable to our military families, and it's unacceptable to many in this country.

The United States Senate has come back from its spring recess today. The House will return next week. When it comes to funding our troops, we have no time to waste. It's time for them to get the job done. So I'm inviting congressional leaders from both parties -- both political parties -- to meet with me at the White House next week. At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk. We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill: a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal, and without handcuffing our generals on the ground.

I'm hopeful we'll see some results soon from the Congress. I know we have our differences over the best course in Iraq. These differences should not prevent us from getting our troops the funding they need without withdrawal and without giving our commanders flexibility.

The Democrat leaders in -- Democratic leaders in Congress are bent on using a bill that funds our troops to make a political statement about the war. They need to do it quickly and get it to my desk so I can veto it, and then Congress can get down to the business of funding our troops without strings and without further delay.

 

- George W. Bush, President Bush Discusses Iraq War Supplemental, War on Terror, April 10, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070410-1.html


BAGHDAD (AP) — Tens of thousands draped themselves in Iraqi flags and marched through the streets of two Shiite holy cities Monday to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad's fall, with some demonstrators calling for U.S.-led forces to leave Iraq.

The rally was ordered by powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who a day earlier issued a statement ordering his militiamen to redouble their battle to oust American forces, and argued that Iraq's army and police should join him in defeating "your archenemy."

Demonstrators marched from Kufa to neighboring Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, with two cordons of Iraqi police lining the route.

Some at the rally waved small Iraqi flags; others hoisted up a giant flag 10 yards long. Leaflets fluttered through the breeze reading: "Yes, Yes to Iraq" and "Yes, Yes to Muqtada. Occupiers should leave Iraq."

"The enemy that is occupying our country is now targeting the dignity of the Iraqi people," said lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie, head of al-Sadr's bloc in parliament, as he marched. "After four years of occupation, we have hundreds of thousands of people dead and wounded."

A senior official in al-Sadr's organization in Najaf, Salah al-Obaydi, called the rally a "call for liberation."

"We're hoping that by next year's anniversary, we will be an independent and liberated Iraq with full sovereignty," he said.
 


- Sadr-Backed Protests Urge U.S. to Quit Iraq, NPR.org, April 9, 2007

source:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9470422

 

Photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye

Iraqi Shiite supporters of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burn a U.S. flag during a rally Monday [April 9, 2007] - AFP/Getty Images

 


Sixty-one days have passed since I sent Congress an emergency war spending bill to provide the funds our troops urgently need. But instead of approving that vital funding, Democrats in Congress have spent the past 61 days working to pass legislation that would substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our generals in the field.

In both the House and Senate, Democratic majorities have passed bills that would impose restrictions on our military commanders, set an arbitrary date for withdrawal from Iraq, and fund domestic spending that has nothing to do with the war. The Democrats who passed these bills know that I will veto either version if it reaches my desk, and they know my veto will be sustained. Yet they continue to pursue the legislation. And now the process is on hold for two weeks, until the full Congress returns to session.

I recognize that Democrats are trying to show their current opposition to the war in Iraq. They see the emergency war spending bill as a chance to make that statement. Yet for our men and women in uniform, this emergency war spending bill is not a political statement, it is a source of critical funding that has a direct impact on their daily lives.

When Congress does not fund our troops on the front lines, our military is forced to make cuts in other areas to cover the shortfall. Military leaders have warned Congress about this problem. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pete Pace, recently testified that if Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back on training, equipment repair, and quality of life initiatives for our Guard and Reserve forces. In a letter to Congress, Army Chief of Staff Pete Schoomaker put it this way: "Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures which will impact Army readiness and impose hardships on our soldiers and their families."

If Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-May, the problems grow even more acute. The Army will be forced to consider slowing or even freezing funding for depots where pivotal equipment is repaired, delaying or curtailing the training of some active duty forces, and delaying the formation of new brigade combat teams. The bottom line is that Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than they need to. That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people.

The full Congress will not be back from spring vacation until the week of April 16th. That means the soonest the House and Senate could get a bill to my desk will be sometime late this month, after the adverse consequences for our troops and their families have already begun. For our troops, the clock is ticking. If the Democrats continue to insist on making a political statement, they should send me their bill as soon as possible. I will veto it, and then Congress can go to work on a good bill that gives our troops the funds they need, without strings and without further delay.

We have our differences in Washington, D.C., but our troops should not be caught in the middle. All who serve in elected office have a solemn responsibility to provide for our men and women in uniform. We need to put partisan politics aside, and do our duty to those who defend us.

 

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, April 7, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070407.html


Iraq, obviously, has got the attention of the United States, as it should. It's a tough war. The American people are weary of this war. They wonder whether or not we can succeed. They're horrified by the suicide bombings they see. I analyzed all the situation here this fall -- I listened to the advice from the military, I listened to the advice from the political people -- all in reaction to the fact that al Qaeda and the extremists bombed a sacred place, which caused sectarian violence to begin to rage. And it looked like that if action wasn't taken, the capital of this young democracy would be overwhelmed by chaos.

And I had a choice to make, and that is whether or not to pull back and hope that chaos wouldn't spread, or to do something about the sectarian violence that was taking place and to help the Iraqis bring order to their capital in order to give them breathing space, time to reconcile their differences after having lived under the thumb of a tyrant for years.

In weighing the options I thought about the consequences of a country that could sustain itself and defend itself and serve as an ally in the war on terror. And those consequences will have profound impact over the next years, over the decades, to know that in the midst of the Middle East there can flourish free societies, societies where people can live together, societies where people can express their opinions, societies where people can live a free life.

That's important because history has proven, has shown that free societies don't war with each other. But it's also important to have allies in this war against the extremists who would do us harm.

I've also thought about the consequences of failure and what it would mean to the American people. If chaos were to reign in the capital of that country it could spill out to the rest of the country; it could then spill out to the region, where you would have religious extremists fighting each other with one common enemy, the United States of America, or our ally, for example, like Israel.

The enemy that had done us harm would be embolden. They would have seen the mighty United States of America retreat before the job was done, which would enable them to better recruit. They have made it clear -- they, being people like Osama bin Laden or Zawahiri -- have made it clear they want to drive us from Iraq to establish safe haven in order to launch further attacks. In my judgment, defeat -- leaving before the job was done, which I would call defeat -- would make this United States of America at risk to further attack.

In other words, this is a war in which, if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here. That's the lesson of September the 11th. It's an integral part of my thinking about how to secure this country -- to do the most important job that the government must do, and that is to protect the American people.

So I made a decision, in consultation with our military commanders, people of sound military judgment; people who have made a career about how to set strategies in place to achieve military victories. And the new strategy we developed was to, rather than retreat, reenforce; rather than pull back was to go in with additional troops to help this young democracy do the job that the 12 million people who voted in free elections want them to do, which is to provide security, so a mother can raise her child the way we would want our mothers to be able to raise our children; to provide security so that the political reconciliation necessary can go forward in a more secure environment.

As I made the decision to send in more troops, I also made the decision to send in a new commander, General David Petraeus. He's an expert on counter-insurgency. Right now about half of the reinforcements that are expected to go to Baghdad have arrived. American and Iraqi troops are, however, on the move. They're rounding up both Shia and Sunni extremists; they're rounding up those who would do harm to innocent people.

We're after al Qaeda. After all, al Qaeda wants us to fail because they can't stand the thought of a free society in their midst. We're destroying car bomb factories, killing and capturing hundreds of insurgents. And neighborhoods are being reclaimed. There is progress, but the enemy sees that progress and they're responding in a brutal way.

I was amazed by the story of the extremists who put two children into a automobile so that they could make it into a crowded area -- then they got of the car and blew up the car with the children inside. It only hardens my resolve to help free Iraq from a society in which people can do that to children, and it makes me realize the nature of the enemy that we face, which hardens my resolve to protect the American people. The people who do that are not people -- you know, it's not a civil war; it is pure evil. And I believe we have an obligation to protect ourselves from that evil. So while we're making progress, it also is tough. And so the way to deal with it is to stay on the offense, is to help these Iraqis.

I had a meeting, a SVTS -- what they call a SVTS, it's a real-time video conference -- with Prime Minister Maliki. I urged him, of course, to continue making the actions necessary to reconcile in their society: pass an oil law, a de-Baathification law. It's interesting to watch a government emerge. It's interesting to watch this new democracy begin to take on responsibilities. And they are. They said they would commit additional troops into Baghdad; they have. They said they'd name a commander for the city of Baghdad; they did. They said they would man checkpoints; they are. They said they'd spend a significant amount of their own money for their reconstruction; they have -- budgeted $10 billion.

And there's more work to be done. And I reminded the Prime Minister of that. And I reminded him that our patience is not unlimited. I also reminded him that we want him to succeed, that it's in the interest of the United States that this young democracy succeed. It's in the interest we gain a new ally in the war on terror, in the midst of a part of the world that produced 19 kids that came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

Just as the strategy is starting to make inroads, a narrow majority in the Congress passed legislation they knew all along I would not accept. Their bills impose an artificial deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. Their bills substitute the judgment of Washington politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. Their bills add billions of dollars in pork barrel spending, spending that is unrelated to the war that you're engaged in. Then, instead of sending an acceptable bill to my desk, they went on spring break.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking for our military. The Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Chief of Staff of the Army have warned that if Congress delays these funds past mid-April, we'll have significant consequences for our Armed Forces. Army Chief of Staff says this: "Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, we will be forced to take increasingly draconian measures, which will impact Army readiness and impose hardship on our soldiers and their families."

For example, the Army says that without these funds, it will be forced to consider cutting back on training for Guard and Reserve units, and eventually for active duty personnel. The folks at Fort Irwin know firsthand how important training is. Washington has a responsibility to ensure that you have the resources you need to keep this training going.

Soon Congress will return from its break. I urge them to work on legislation to fund our troops, but that does not tell our military how to conduct war and sets an artificial timetable for withdrawal. The enemy does not measure the conflict in Iraq in terms of timetables. They plan to fight us, and we've got to fight them, alongside the Iraqis. A strategy that encourages this enemy to wait us out is dangerous -- it's dangerous for our troops, it's dangerous for our country's security. And it's not going to become the law.

There are fine, fine people debating this issue in Washington, D.C. They're patriotic. They're people who have got passionate points of view about this war. And I understand that. Yet, we cannot allow honest differences in Washington to harm our troops in battle, or their families here at home. Members of Congress have sent their message; now they need to send me a war-spending measure that I can sign into law, so we can provide our troops and their families with the funds and support they deserve and they need.

I spent some time with the soldiers out in the field, and I want to share with you what I told them. The work that you have volunteered to do will have a lasting impact on the world in which we live. When we succeed in helping this Iraqi government become a country that can sustain itself, defend itself, govern itself, and serve as an ally in the war on terror, we will have delivered a significant blow to those who have designs on harming the American people, because they can't stand the thought of free societies in their midst. They can't stand the thought of people being able to have a government of, by, and for the people. It is the opposite of what they do.

 

- George W. Bush, Visit with the Troops at Fort Irwin, California , April 4, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070404-6.html


We've stated very forthrightly what our objectives are. We don't want to stay in Iraq any longer than necessary, but we want to get the job done. And that means we've got to have a government that's stood up, that is able to govern the country effectively. And they've had three national elections now, new constitution, they've got a government in place that has been there less than a year, and they're making progress in that area.

The other thing that needs to happen is the Iraqis need to have adequate security forces so they can handle the threats, if you will, of the instability that exists inside Iraq. That's a fairly straightforward proposition. The problem we're having, I think, is we see some in the Congress trying to make some kind of a political statement by trying to come up with amendments to the supplemental appropriation, I think to achieve a political purpose, rather than to achieve a victory. And we think that's unfortunate.

The President has made it clear that if he gets a bill that's got a lot of restrictions on it, or that has a lot of pork added to it, unnecessary federal spending, he'll veto it.

 

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, ABC news radio interview, April 4, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070404-3.html


The Congress is exercising its legitimate authority as it sees fit right now. I just disagree with their decisions. I think setting an artificial timetable for withdrawal is a significant mistake. It is a -- it sends mixed signals and bad signals to the region, and to the Iraqi citizens.

Listen, the Iraqis are wondering whether or not we're going to stay to help. People in America wonder whether or not they've got the political will to do the hard work -- that's what Plante was asking about. My conversations with President [sic] Maliki, he seems dedicated to doing that. And we will continue to work with him to achieve those objectives. But they're wondering whether or not America is going to keep commitments. And so when they hear withdrawal, and timetables, it, rightly so, sends different kinds of signals.

It's interesting that Harry Reid, Leader Reid spoke out with a different option. Whatever option they choose, I would hope they get home, get a bill, and get it to my desk. And if it has artificial timetables of withdrawal, or if it cuts off funding for troops, or if it tells our generals how to run a war, I'll veto it. And then we can get about the business of giving our troops what they need -- what our generals want them to have, and give our generals the flexibility necessary to achieve the objectives that we set out by reinforcing troops in Iraq.

You know, what's interesting is you don't hear a lot of debate about Washington as to what will happen if there is failure. Again, Plante mentioned that people don't think we can succeed -- in other words, there's no chance of succeeding. That's a part of the debate. But what people also have got to understand, what will happen if we fail. And the way you fail is to leave before the job is done; in other words, just abandon this young democracy -- say we're tired; we'll withdraw from Baghdad and hope there's not chaos.

I believe that if this capital city were to fall into chaos, which is where it was headed prior to reinforcing, that there would be no chance for this young democracy to survive. That's why I made the decision I made. And the reason why I believe it's important to help this young democracy survive is so that the country has a chance to become a stabilizing influence in a dangerous part of the world.

I also understand that if the country -- if the experience were to fail, radicals would be emboldened. People that had been -- that can't stand America would find new ways to recruit. There would be potentially additional resources for them to use at their disposal.

The failure in Iraq would endanger American security. I have told the American people often it is best to defeat them there so we don't have to face them here, fully recognizing that what happens over there can affect the security here. That's one of the major lessons of September the 11th. In that case, there was safe haven found in a failed state, where killers plotted and planned and trained, and came and killed 3,000 of our citizens. And I vowed we weren't going to let that happen again.

Secondly, the way to defeat the ideology that these people believe is through a competing ideology, one based upon liberty and human rights and human dignity. And there are some who, I guess, say that's impossible to happen in the Middle East. I strongly disagree. I know it is hard work. I believe it is necessary work to secure this country in the long run.

 

- George W. Bush, Remarks on the Emergency Supplemental, April 3, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/04/20070403.html


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday blasted "self-appointed strategists" on Capitol Hill for trying to force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, declaring the U.S. military answers to the president, not Congress.

Speaking to a fundraising luncheon for Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, Cheney repeated President Bush's promise to veto an upcoming emergency war-spending bill if it contains any timetable for a withdrawal.

"It's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept: You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy you're going to quit," he said.

Both Bush and congressional leaders say each other would be to blame for stalling money for the war effort if the president vetoes the bill.

Cheney said Democrats are trying to push the president into accepting "unwise and inappropriate restrictions on our commanders."

"The fact is that the United States military answers to one commander-in-chief in the White House, not 535 commanders-in-chief on Capitol Hill," he added. "We expect the House and the Senate to meet the needs of our military on time, in full, and with no strings attached."

He urged Congress to "stop the political theater" and send Bush an acceptable war-spending bill before the Pentagon begins to run low on cash later this spring.

Meanwhile, the standoff between Congress and the White House over Iraq ratcheted up another notch Monday over war funding.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is joining Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, in sponsoring a new Iraq bill that would end the majority of Iraq war funding after March 31, 2008, the day Senate Democrats originally proposed pulling troops out of the war-ravaged nation.

The bill would permit spending in only three areas: fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqis and protecting the U.S. Embassy and personnel.

Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, concedes passing the bill won't be easy.

"This is an uphill battle, but it's the next step in a series of things to try and change the president's policy in Iraq," he said.

White House spokesman Dana Perino responded by accusing Democrats of changing their stance on Iraq. "It's almost shifting so fast, it's like a sandstorm," she said.

Perino insisted funding is essential.

At the Sessions fundraiser, Cheney said Democrats are essentially telling U.S. troops to "retreat -- with no regard whatsoever for the actual conditions on the ground in Iraq."

"When members of Congress speak not of victory but of time limits, deadlines or other arbitrary measures, they're telling the enemy to simply watch the clock and wait us out," he said.

"It's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept: You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy you're going to quit."

Last week, the Senate passed a $123 billion Iraq spending measure that recommends a final withdrawal of all troops by March 31, 2008, and mandated that troops begin redeployment within four months of the bill's passage.

Congressional negotiators are trying to reconcile that bill with a House version calling for an August withdrawal.

Bush, meanwhile, is threatening to veto any bill that sets a timetable for withdrawing troops, even if the bill contains vital war money.

Cheney reiterated that threat during his Monday speech, saying that "if either version comes to the president's desk, he will use the veto power, no question about it."

He added, "It's also clear that we've got enough supporters of the military in Congress to sustain a veto, and so it is pointless for the Democrats to continue pursuing this legislation."

Reid apparently is trying to leverage the White House by toughening the bill, and he is pushing to vote on the new measure within the next two months.

In a statement, Reid said that if Bush vetoes the legislation, "I will work to ensure this [new bill] receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period."

The work period begins April 10, when the Senate returns from its spring recess, and ends Memorial Day.

Republican staff members tell CNN that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking closely at the bill. McConnell has repeatedly challenged anti-war lawmakers to cut off funds for the war rather than impose conditions that would force a withdrawal, but he said Monday that Reid's measure amounts to "an arbitrary surrender date."

"The chosen date isn't tied to circumstances on the ground or the needs of the military commanders," the Kentucky Republican said in a written statement. "It's completely arbitrary. It was pulled out of thin air, and the terrorists have already marked it on their calendars."

A McConnell aide told CNN that Reid simply cannot get the votes to support this latest bill, but Manley rejected that assessment.

Manley scoffs at that assertion: "No one knows where the votes are until we call the roll."

 

- Cheney: 'Self-appointed strategists' forcing withdrawal, CNN, April 2, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/02/senate.funds/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network.


In recent days, the House and Senate each passed emergency war spending bills that undercut our troops in the field. Each of the Democrats' bills would substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for that of our generals on the ground. Each bill would impose restrictive conditions on our military commanders. Each bill would also set an arbitrary deadline for surrender and withdrawal in Iraq, and I believe that would have disastrous consequences for our safety here at home.

The Democrats loaded up their bills with billions of dollars in domestic spending completely unrelated to the war, including $3.5 million for visitors to tour the Capitol, $6.4 million for the House of Representatives' Salaries and Expenses Account, and $74 million for secure peanut storage. I like peanuts as much as the next guy, but I believe the security of our troops should come before the security of our peanut crop. For all these reasons, that is why I made it clear to the Democrats in Congress, I will veto the bill.

 

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, March 31, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070331.html


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats ignored a veto threat and pushed through a bill Thursday requiring President Bush to start withdrawing troops from "the civil war in Iraq," dealing a rare, sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.

The vote came shortly after Bush invited all House Republicans to the White House to appear with him in a sort of pep rally to bolster his position in the continuing war policy fight.

"We stand united in saying loud and clear that when we've got a troop in harm's way, we expect that troop to be fully funded," Bush said, surrounded by Republicans on the North Portico, "and we got commanders making tough decisions on the ground, we expect there to be no strings on our commanders."

"We expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people's money," he said.

The Senate vote marked its boldest challenge yet to the administration's handling of a war, now in its fifth year, that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops and more than $350 billion. In a show of support for the president, most Republicans opposed the measure, unwilling to back a troop withdrawal schedule despite the conflict's widespread unpopularity.

"Surely this will embolden the enemy and it will not help our troops in any way," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama.

Forty-eight Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont were joined by two Republicans, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, in voting for the measure. Opposed were 46 Republicans and Connecticut independent Joseph Lieberman.

Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, and Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, did not vote.

The House, also run by Democrats, narrowly passed similar legislation last week. Party leaders seem determined that the final bill negotiated between the two chambers will demand some sort of timetable for winding down the war -- setting them on course for a veto showdown with the president.

Reid: 'The American people wanted us to speak'
"We've spoken the words the American people wanted us to speak," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. "There must be a change of direction in the war in Iraq, the civil war in Iraq."

"The Senate and the House have held together and done what we've done," he told reporters. "It's now in his corner to do what he wants to do."

In a letter to Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reid had said earlier: "This Congress is taking the responsible course and responding to needs that have been ignored by your administration and the prior Congress."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president respects the role of Congress -- and Congress should respect his.

"I think the founders of our nation had great foresight in realizing that it would be better to have one commander in chief managing a war, rather than 535 generals on Capitol Hill trying to do the same thing," she said. "They're mandating failure here."

The legislation represents the Senate's first, bold challenge of Bush's war policies since Democrats took control of Congress in January. With Senate rules allowing the minority party to insist on 60 votes to pass any bill and Democrats holding only a narrow majority, Reid previously had been unable to push through resolutions critical of the war.

This latest proposal was able to get through because Republicans said they didn't want to block an appropriations bill needed for the war.

"I think the sooner we can get this bill ... down to the president for veto, we can get serious about passing a bill that will get money to the troops," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Promised veto unlikely to be overridden
Democrats acknowledge they do not have enough support in Congress to override Bush's veto, but say they will continue to ratchet up the pressure until he changes course.

The looming showdown was reminiscent of the GOP-led fight with President Clinton over the 1996 budget, which caused a partial government shutdown that lasted 27 days. Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, the House speaker at the time, eventually relented but claimed victory because the bill represented a substantial savings over the previous year's spending.

Bush said the money is needed by mid-April or else the troops will begin to run out of money, but some Democrats say the real deadline is probably closer to June.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Defense Appropriations Committee Thursday that a delay in funding would have a chain reaction that could keep units in Iraq longer than planned.

If the bill is not passed by May 15, he said the Army will have to cut back on reserve training and equipment repairs, possibly delaying the formation of new Army units to relieve those deployed.

Shortly before the final vote, the Senate agreed 98-0 to add $1.5 billion for mine-resistant vehicles for Marines, and 93-0 to aid a program to track down convicted sex offenders.

Members also agreed 96-1 to prohibit funds in the bill to be used for spinach farmers. The vote was orchestrated by Republicans to target some of the extra spending added to the bill by Democrats; while the Senate bill didn't include any funding for spinach growers, the House measure contained $25 million.

 

- Senate passes war spending bill with withdrawal deadline, AP via CNN, March 29, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/29/us.iraq.ap/index.html

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defying President Bush, the Democratic-led Senate turned back a Republican attempt to remove a call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq from a $124 billion war-spending bill, Tuesday.

Though the 50-48 vote is far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, Democrats said the measure was a sign of growing support for bringing the four-year-old war to an end.

"This is a strong message which amplifies the action of the House and reflects the overwhelming sentiment of the American people," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island. "It's a message that must be heeded by the president and by the government of Iraq."

The bill would require U.S. combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq within 120 days and complete that pullout by next March. A reduced American contingent would stay to focus on training Iraqi troops and police and battling al Qaeda terrorists.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said that effectively sets a "surrender date" in the war.

"Setting a date for withdrawal is like sending a memo to our enemies that tells them to rest, refit and re-plan until the day we leave," he said. "It's a memo to our friends, too, telling them we plan to walk away and leave them on their own, regardless of what we leave behind."

The $124 billion appropriation comes on top of $70 billion already approved for this year and would drive the price tag for the now-unpopular war past the half-trillion-dollar mark. The Pentagon says it would have to start diverting funds from other programs to Iraq unless it passes by mid-April.

The spending bill passed the House of Representatives with an August 2008 deadline last week. But Bush has vowed to veto any bill that contains a call for a U.S. withdrawal or what he considers extraneous pork-barrel spending, and dismissed the House measure as "political theater."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino reiterated that threat Tuesday.

"Regardless of the success our troops are achieving in the field, this bill would require their withdrawal," she said. "This and other provisions would place freedom and democracy in Iraq at grave risk, embolden our enemies and undercut the administration's plans to develop the Iraqi economy."

Earlier this month, the Senate's Democratic majority fell short of another attempt to impose a timeline for withdrawal. Republicans had used the threat of a filibuster to kill previous statements of opposition to the war. But McConnell said the GOP would not use that tactic, which requires 60 votes to overcome, in this case because "it's important to get the money to the troops."

Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said the call for a pullout is a step toward bringing "the worst foreign policy mistake of our time" to an end.

"Now it's time for us to make it clear to the Iraqis it is their country. It is their war. It is their future," he said.

The Senate vote went down to the wire, with the White House hustling Vice President Dick Cheney to Capitol Hill to break a possible tie. Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acknowledged, "We don't know how it's going to turn out."

Two Republicans -- Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon -- joined 48 Democrats to turn back the GOP-backed amendment.

"The American people are demanding that we develop a bipartisan consensus for an honorable and responsible exit strategy from Iraq," said Hagel, a possible Republican presidential candidate. "If we fail to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder, one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead."

One Democrat, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, joined Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman to vote with the Republican leadership. And Virginia Sen. John Warner, a leading GOP opponent of Bush's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Iraq, rejoined the Republican fold on Tuesday's vote, warning that calling for withdrawal would sound "the bugle of retreat."

"It would be echoed and repeated from every minaret in Iraq that coalition forces have begun to take the first step backwards," said Warner, a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We cannot take that step -- not at this time."

 

- Withdrawal timeline survives Senate vote, CNN, March 27, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/27/us.iraq/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network.


Good morning. In times of war, Congress has no greater obligation than funding our war fighters. And next week, the House will begin debate on an emergency war spending bill.

The purpose of this legislation should be to give our troops on the front lines the resources, funds, and equipment they need to fight our enemies. Unfortunately, some in Congress are using this bill as an opportunity to micromanage our military commanders, force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and spend billions on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war on terror.

Our troops urgently need Congress to approve emergency war funds. Over the past several weeks, our Nation has begun pursuing a new strategy in Iraq. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus, our troops have launched a difficult and dangerous mission to help Iraqis secure their capital. This plan is still in its early stages, yet we're already seeing signs of progress. Iraqi and American troops have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists. They've also launched aggressive operations against Sunni extremists. And they've uncovered large caches of weapons that could have been used to kill our troops. These are hopeful signs. As these operations unfold, they will help the Iraqi government stabilize the country, rebuild the economy, and advance the work of political reconciliation. Yet the bill Congress is considering would undermine General Petraeus and the troops under his command just as these critical security operations are getting under way.

First, the bill would impose arbitrary and restrictive conditions on the use of war funds and require the withdrawal of forces by the end of this year if these conditions are not met. These restrictions would handcuff our generals in the field by denying them the flexibility they need to adjust their operations to the changing situation on the ground. And these restrictions would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders.
Even if every condition required by this bill was met, all American forces -- except for very limited purposes -- would still be required to withdraw next year, regardless of the situation in Iraq. The consequences of imposing such an artificial timetable would be disastrous.

Here is what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently told Congress: Setting a fixed date to withdraw would "essentially tell [the enemy] how long they would have to wait until we're gone." If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, the scale and scope of attacks would increase and intensify. A contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country, and in time, this violence would engulf the region. The enemy would emerge from the chaos emboldened with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. Such an outcome would be a nightmare for our country.

Second, the bill would cut funding for the Iraqi security forces if Iraqi leaders did not meet rigid conditions set by Congress. This makes no sense. Members of Congress have often said that the Iraqis must step forward and take more responsibility for their own security -- and I agree. Yet Members of Congress can't have it both ways: They can't say that the Iraqis must do more and then take away the funds that will help them do so. Iraq is a young democracy that is fighting for its survival in a region that is vital to American security. To cut off support for their security forces at this critical moment would put our own security at risk.

Third, the bill would add billions of dollars in domestic spending that is completely unrelated to the war. For example, the House bill would provide $74 million for peanut storage, $48 million for the Farm Service Agency, and $35 million for NASA. These programs do not belong in an emergency war spending bill. Congress must not allow debate on domestic spending to delay funds for our troops on the front lines. And Members should not use funding our troops as leverage to pass special interest spending for their districts.

We are a Nation at war, and the heaviest responsibilities fall to our troops in the field. Yet we in Washington have responsibilities, as well. General Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate without a single vote in opposition, and he and his troops need these resources to succeed in their mission. Many in Congress say they support the troops, and I believe them. Now they have a chance to show that support in deed, as well as in word. Congress needs to approve emergency funding for our troops, without strings and without delay. If they send me a bill that does otherwise, I will veto it.

 

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, March 17, 2007

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070317.html


Protesters in Baghdad say, 'No America!'
Sadr urges followers to unite against 'the grand devil,' even as the U.S. touts joint patrols in his stronghold as a success.
By Tina Susman, Times Staff Writer
March 17, 2007

BAGHDAD — Residents of the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City on Friday showed signs of growing resentment toward the presence of U.S. troops in the area, chanting "No occupation!" and "No America!" in a march demanding the removal of a U.S. base there.

March 17, 2007.  People march during a protest against the U.S. military presence in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad.
(Adil al-Khazali / Associated Press)

source:  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq17mar17,0,6734476.story?coll=la-middleeast

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times


And we fight this war on many fronts. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we removed two of the world's most brutal regimes. And now we are undertaking the complex work of helping the people of these two countries establish functioning democracies that can protect their own people and be allies in this global war on terror.  Sometimes we lose sight of the importance of this work in the midst of heated debates -- and this is especially true when it comes to Iraq. The fight in Iraq is more than a conflict in one country, it is part of a larger struggle against extremism that is unfolding across the broader Middle East. The extremists are fighting to take control of Iraq so they can establish it as a base from which to overthrow moderate governments in the region, and plan new attacks on the American people. If we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home.  Their success in Iraq would bring danger to America, and that is why America must prevail in Iraq. 

I appreciate your strong support for those who have volunteered to wear our uniform. Thousands of courageous men and women have stepped forward to protect us. And they're not alone. Since this war began, nearly 120,000 Iraqis have volunteered to serve in their army. More than 8,000 Iraqis in uniform have died in the defense of their new nation. Recently in Anbar province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered, 1,000 Sunnis volunteered for the police force in a period of two weeks. Last month in Hillah, an Iraqi police officer threw himself onto a suicide bomber -- a final, heroic act that saved an untold number of Iraqis gathered outside a local mosque.

Every month, Iraqis risk reprisals from the terrorists and extremists to provide thousands of tips to coalition and Iraqi authorities. One recent tip from an Iraqi led to the discovery of a factory where insurgents developed sophisticated roadside bombs to kill our troops. With these acts of bravery, the Iraqis are standing up for the democratic future that 12 million of them voted for.  The vast majority of Iraq's citizens want to live in peace, and they're showing their courage every day. And the United States of America will not abandon them in their hour of need. 

To reach our goals, and to prevail, we must recognize that the nature of the war in Iraq has changed. In 2005, the terrorists tried and failed to stop the Iraqi people as they held three national elections. They choose a transitional government, they adopted the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then they elected a government under that constitution. So a thinking enemy adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck.

Last February, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity was designed to provoke retaliation from the Iraqi Shia -- and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal.

This changed the nature of the conflict in Iraq. We still faced the threat from al Qaeda, but the sectarian violence was getting out of hand, and threatened to destroy this young democracy before it had a chance to succeed. So last fall, I ordered my national security team to conduct a comprehensive review of our strategy in Iraq. We devised an approach that is markedly different from previous efforts. This approach demands more from Iraq's elected government, makes bringing security to Baghdad our top priority, and gives our troops the reinforcements they need to carry out their missions. And to carry out this strategy, I put in place a highly-regarded commander, an expert on counterinsurgency -- General David Petraeus.

General Petraeus' mission is to help Iraq's leaders implement the plan that they developed to secure Baghdad. Today they can't do this on their own. So I have ordered reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional combat soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and where they will partner with Iraqi units. The Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and murderers, and roaming death squads.

We're fixing one of the major problems with our previous approach in Baghdad. In the past, our forces would help Iraqis clear out neighborhoods during the day, and then go back to their bases at night, and often the enemy returned as soon as American forces left. This time, we will hold the neighborhoods we have cleared by establishing over 30 "joint security stations" throughout Baghdad. These will be neighborhood outposts where Iraqi forces, with U.S. help, will be deployed 24 hours a day to secure the population, provide emergency aid to the communities, and gather information to root out extremist networks throughout the capital. At the same time, our forces will continue to train Iraqi Army and Police, so that we can help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing security that Baghdad needs.

It's too early to judge the success of this operation. General Petraeus recently arrived in the Iraqi capital, and the plan he is executing is in its early stages. This strategy is going to take time. And we can expect al Qaeda and other extremists to try to derail the strategy by launching spectacular attacks.

Yet even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signs: The Iraqi government has completed the deployment of three additional Iraqi Army brigades to the capital. They said they were going to employ three brigades, and they did. Iraq's leaders have lifted restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces that prevented them from going into certain areas. Already, about half of the joint security stations have been established in neighborhoods across Baghdad. Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists. They have recovered large weapons caches, including mortar weapons systems and rocket-propelled grenades.

Iraqi and American forces have also launched successful operations against the Sunni extremists. U.S. and Iraqi forces recently killed al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad, who were responsible for some of those bomb attacks that you're seeing on your TV screens. In the past two weeks, U.S. and Iraqi forces have also uncovered large stockpiles of Explosively Formed Projectiles -- or EFPs -- which are used by extremist groups to attack our troops. Iraqi and U.S. forces are making gradual but important progress almost every day, and we will remain steadfast until our objectives are achieved. 

In addition to the steps they are taking to secure their capital, Iraq's leaders are also taking steps to achieve political reconciliation -- reconciliation that is necessary after years of brutal tyranny. They have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to advance this reconciliation -- to share oil revenues amongst all Iraq's citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province.

Iraqis have already begun to deliver on some of these promises. For example, Iraq's Council of Ministers recently agreed on legislation they will submit to their parliament on the development of Iraq's oil resources and the sharing of revenues. Last month, the Iraqi government approved a budget that includes $10 billion for reconstruction and capital investment. These are encouraging signs. And now Iraq's leaders must meet the other pledges they have made.

To succeed, Iraq's leaders also need the help of the international community. So the United States supports the Iraqi government as it pursues an international initiative to build diplomatic, economic, and security support for its young democracy. Last week, the Iraqis announced that they will hold a conference in Baghdad that will include officials from Iraq's neighboring countries, as well as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Conference.

It will be followed next month by a second conference that includes Secretary Rice and her counterparts from around the world. These meetings will be an important test. They'll be a test of whether Iran and Syria are truly interested in being constructive forces in Iraq. It will be a test for the international community to express its support for this young democracy, to support a nation that will be at peace with its neighbors.

Diplomacy is going to play an important part of securing Iraq's future. Yet diplomacy will fail without a robust military strategy. The goal of the enemies in Iraq is power, and they're willing to kill themselves and innocent men, women, and children to achieve that goal. People like these can't be satisfied by negotiations or diplomatic concessions. Our strategy recognizes the hard truth. So we're going to continue to pursue our enemies in Iraq relentlessly, and at the same time, we'll work with moderate forces to achieve reconciliation between sectarian factions.

Here in Washington, we have important decisions on Iraq ahead of us. And the most pivotal question is whether the United States Congress will stand behind General Petraeus and our troops as they work to secure Baghdad. General Petraeus has my confidence, and he also has the confidence of the United States Senate. In fact, he was recently confirmed to his post without one single vote against him. Yet almost immediately the House passed a resolution that disapproved of his strategy for success in Iraq. I know you find that puzzling -- (laughter) -- you're not the only one. (Laughter.) This may be the first time in the history of the United States Congress that voted to send a new commander into battle and then voted to oppose the plan he said was critical in winning that battle.

Members of Congress have every right to express their opinion. They have every right. They also have a responsibility to fund our war fighters.  Some in Congress have called for cutting off funds for our troops, only to find opposition from their colleagues on Capitol Hill. Now others in Congress are planning to use an emergency war spending bill that will provide funds for the war on terror as an opportunity to add on billions of dollars for unrelated domestic programs. Tacking extra domestic spending to an emergency war spending bill only will complicate Congress' ability to provide the support that our troops urgently need. I ask the Congress to approve the funds we requested and our troops are counting on without strings and without delay. 

Equally important to funding our troops is giving our commanders the flexibility to carry out their missions, without undue interference from politicians in Washington.  Some members of Congress say that we can succeed in Iraq without providing the reinforcements that our forces have been promised and are expecting. I disagree. More importantly, our commanders disagree. Other members of Congress seem to believe that we can have it all: that we can fight al Qaeda, pursue national reconciliation, initiate aggressive diplomacy, and deter Iran's ambitions in Iraq -- all while withdrawing from Baghdad and reducing our force levels. That sounds good in theory, but doing so at this moment would undermine everything our troops have worked for. 

There are no short cuts in Iraq. Our intelligence and military experts agree that given the current situation, Iraq will not be a stable nation until its capital is more secure. Political reconciliation is difficult when a country's seat of government is under constant siege. Economic improvements cannot take root when Baghdad's neighborhoods are the scene of daily sectarian violence and reprisals. And you cannot effectively battle al Qaeda by ignoring the sectarian violence they are inciting, especially in the capital.

If American forces were to step back from Baghdad now, before it is more secure, the scale and scope of attacks would increase and the intensity would increase. A contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country, and in time, the entire region. The enemy would emerge from the chaos emboldened, with new safe havens and new recruits and new resources and an even greater determination to harm America.

For our country, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, it's their plan. They're not debating whether the war in Iraq is worth it. Hear the words of bin Laden, in a message to the American people just last year. He says of Iraq: "The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever." In the face of such a determined enemy, the idea of pulling back from the fight and hoping for the best is not a reasonable position. America did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a shop in a free Iraq. 

Now that the battle for Baghdad is underway, our country is best served by standing behind our troops and doing everything we can to aid in their success. The outcome of this conflict involves more than the fortunes of any one President or any political party. Our mission is America's mission, and our failure would be America's failure.

Our country is fortunate that our mission is in the hands of America's finest citizens -- the men and women who wear our uniform.  They've been on the battlefield. They have seen this war up close. They know the consequences of failure. And they appreciate something larger: the consequences of success.  We know what a free Iraq could mean for the region and the world, because we know how your sacrifices half a century ago helped create a free Germany that transformed Europe, and a free Japan that sparked a wave of democracy and prosperity throughout much of Asia. We know that a free Iraq has the potential to spark a similar transformation in the Middle East, and bring us closer to the day when moms and dads in the Arab world see a future of hope for their children. And we know that the sacrifices that our troops are making in Iraq today will lay the foundation of peace for generations of Americans to come.

 

- George W. Bush, President Bush Discusses Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, War on Terror at American Legion, March 6, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070306-1.html


LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday announced plans for the imminent withdrawal of around 1,600 of his country's troops from Iraq.

In a statement to lawmakers in the House of Commons, Blair said the UK's coalition contingent based in Basra would be reduced in the coming months -- but only if Iraqi security forces could secure the southern part of the country.

"The actual reduction in forces will be from the present 7,100 -- itself down from over 9,000 two years ago and 40,000 at the time of the conflict -- to roughly 5,500," Blair said.

He said the withdrawal reflected the relative stability in Basra, where the sectarian rifts that have turned Baghdad and northern Iraq into a powderkeg are less of a problem.

"The next chapter in Basra's history will be written by Iraqis," Blair said.

Britain's plans prompted U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at a news conference in Berlin with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to reject suggestions the American-led coalition in Iraq was crumbling.

"The British have done what is really the plan for the country as a whole, which is to be able to transfer security responsibilities to the Iraqis as conditions permit," she said.

Rice said that "the coalition remains intact and in fact the British will have thousands of soldiers deployed in Iraq in the south."

Blair said British troops would increasingly play a support and training role with Iraqi forces assuming responsibility for security operations.

He said there would be no diminution in British combat resources and said a military presence would remain into 2008 "for as long as we are wanted and have a job to do."

"The speed at which this happens depends, of course, in part on what we do, what the Iraqi authorities themselves do, but also on the attitude of those we are together fighting."

More than 130 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Meanwhile Denmark on Wednesday announced it would withdraw its contingent of coalition forces by August. Lithuania also said it was considering withdrawing its 53 troops. Denmark's 460 soldiers serve under British command in Basra.

U.S. Secretary of State Rice said the moves were in line with long term plans for Iraq and would not compromise security or the strenght of the coalition.

"The coalition remains intact and in fact the British will have thousands of soldiers deployed in Iraq in the south," she said at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Reuters reported.

"It is the plan that as it is possible to transfer responsibility to the Iraqis, that coalition forces would no longer be needed in those circumstances," she added.

Blair's statement followed a weekend television interview in which he declared that the British mission in Basra -- codenamed "Sinbad" -- had been "completed" and "successful."

"The issue is the operation that we have been conducting in Basra is now complete... And it has been successful as an operation and as a result there has been reconstruction that has come in behind it and we have been able to make real progress."

On Wednesday the Sun newspaper reported that the first British troops would return home "within weeks" and said that 3,000 will follow by the end of the year.

The Guardian and The Sun reported that all British forces would leave Iraq by the end of 2008.

The Guardian, quoting defense sources, said British troops would continue carrying out long range patrols in Maysan province along the border with Iran from a single base in Basra.

Defence officials have been encouraged by a campaign to root out criminals and Shia militia supporters from the Basra police force, the paper reported.

CNN's Nic Robertson said British forces had adopted a "softly-softly approach" to policing Basra in comparison with their American allies in Baghdad.

"The assessment has clearly been made for political reasons or because the situation is much better now in Basra that this is a safe operating status that can be put in place there," said Robertson.

"They would go out with berets on their heads instead of helmets, they would patrol the streets more frequently than U.S. troops typically would and try to engage the local population. But in the last year that has not been as successful a tactic as it was in the first year or so."

The British announcement came one day after the Iraqi Army division based in Basra transferred from coalition command to Iraqi command. That Iraqi unit "is now -- for the first time -- taking its orders direct from an Iraqi headquarters in Baghdad," according to a statement on Britain's Ministry of Defense Web site.

In Basra many Iraqis greeted the news with relief, while others voiced fears the British withdrawal was premature amid fears over tensions between Shia parties bubbling beneath the surface.

Salam al-Maliki, a senior official in the bloc loyal to radical young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr which has long opposed a foreign presence in Iraq, said any violence in the city would cease once the foreign troops have left.

"The militias and militant groups in these areas only fired their weapons at the occupier and when they go, all of the violence here will end," he said.

U.S. sends more troops to Iraq
In Washington, the White House welcomed the British move, even as the U.S. sends more troops into Iraq in an effort to put down a wave of sectarian violence in Baghdad and pacify Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni insurgency.

"The president views this as a success," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "The president wants to do the same thing, to bring our troops home as soon as possible.

"The president is grateful for the support of the British forces in the past and into the future. While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis."

"The United States shares the same goal of turning over to the Iraqi security forces and reducing the number of American troops in Iraq," the statement added.

Johndroe said Blair briefed President Bush about the plan during one of their "routine" calls Tuesday morning.

But Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy called Blair's announcement a "stunning rejection of President Bush's high risk Iraq policy."

"No matter how the White House tries to spin it, the British government has decided to split with President Bush and begin to move their troops out of Iraq. This should be a wake up call to the administration," Kennedy said in a statement.

"Eighteen other countries have already withdrawn or dramatically reduced their troop presence in Iraq. A majority of the American people voted last November for a changed policy in Iraq. A majority of the House and the Senate, a unanimous Baker- Hamilton Commission and numerous generals have rejected the Administration's policy in Iraq. And now our country's strongest ally has rejected it."

Political damage
Opposition to the war has hurt Blair politically, with his ruling Labor Party losing seats in Parliament and in local elections in the past two years. The prime minister announced in September that he would leave office within a year.

CNN's Robin Oakley said the announcement of plans to withdraw troops from Iraq would be seen as a "turning point" by Blair as he prepares for his exit from government.

"Tony Blair wants to show he got things moving in the right direction before he goes," said Oakley.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague of the opposition Conservative Party said British forces in Iraq were overstretched and had probably reached the limit of what they could "usefully achieve."

Anti-war protester Lindsey German of the UK's Stop the War Coalition said the move was an admission that the troops were not doing any good: "[Blair] needs to come clean on what a mistake, and what a disaster, the war has actually been."

Britain contributed about 46,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. More than half those troops were withdrawn within two months of the invasion, leaving the remaining contingent in Basra.

News of the withdrawal comes three days after it was reported that Prince Harry would deploy with his unit to Iraq in April or May.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

 

- Blair: 1,600 troops to leave Iraq, CNN, February 21, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/21/uk.iraq.troops/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network.


To serve that goal, the terrorists have declared an intention to arm themselves with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, to destroy Israel, to intimidate free countries and to cause great harm to the United States. The terrorists' vision is one of murder and enslavement. Our vision is one of humanity and freedom. And so we are their prime target. They hate us, they hate our country, they hate the liberties for which we stand. They want to destroy our way of life, so that freedom no longer has a home and a defender in this world. That leaves us only one option: to rise to America's defense, to take the fight directly to the enemy, and to accept no outcome but victory.

The terrorists have made Iraq the central front in this war. And right now our new force commander in Iraq, General Dave Petraeus, is carrying out a new strategy for victory on that front. We're moving in to help Iraqis clear and secure Baghdad, to help them protect the local population, and to ensure that the Iraqi forces will be capable of providing the security necessary in their capital city. As General Petraeus said, "the way ahead will be neither quick nor easy, and there will undoubtedly be tough days. We face a determined, adaptable, barbaric enemy. He will try to wait us out. In fact, any such endeavor is a test of wills, and there are no guarantees."

The General has it exactly right. The terrorists know they cannot beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have. The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission. So they continue committing acts of random horror, believing they can intimidate the civilized world and break the will of the American people. Bin Laden continues to predict that the people of the United States simply do not have the stomach to stay in the fight against terror. He refers to Iraq as the "third world war," and he knows the stakes as well as we do. If the terrorists were to succeed, they would return Iraq to the rule of tyrants, make it a source of instability in the Middle East, and use it as a staging area for even more attacks. The terrorists also know that as freedom takes hold, the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal, and the advance of liberty and self government in the broader Middle East will lead to a much safer world for our children and our grandchildren.

This nation has learned the lessons of history. We know that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. We know that if we leave Iraq before the mission is completed, the enemy is going to come after us. Having seen our interests attacked repeatedly over the years, and knowing the ambitions of the terrorists, this nation has made a decision: We will engage these enemies. We will face them far from home, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.

Every member of our military can be certain that America will stay on the offensive in the war on terror. The President of the United States and his national security team understand the threat -- the enemy's changing tactics and its unchanging nature. We are not dealing with adversaries that will ever surrender or come to their senses. We will be flexible. We'll do all we can to adapt to conditions on the ground. We'll make every change necessary to do the job. And I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat. We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to return with honor.

 

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Remarks at a Rally for the Troops, February 21, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070221-5.html


Q So, Mr. Vice President, Tony Blair is announcing that the British are beginning their withdrawal from Iraq. Are you concerned about that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, they've indicated for some time now that they were going to make adjustments based on conditions on the ground. I think they believe that in southern Iraq, that Basra region where they've been most active, we have made significant progress. And I think that's one of the reasons they feel that they can draw down their forces there. I believe they're at the same time continuing to be very active in Afghanistan. And they'll continue with some forces in Iraq, but it won't be the same level it was at before.

Q But how does it look to the American people to see our most important ally begin to pull their troops out as we're actually sending more troops in?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I look at it, and what I see is an affirmation of the fact that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well. The focus that we've had, obviously, is Baghdad and the decision the President made to surge troops into Baghdad. The Baghdad Security Plan is based on conditions in Baghdad.

But in fact, I talked to a friend just the other day, a guy who knows the region very well, has spent a lot of years in that part of the world who had driven from Baghdad down to Basra in seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved compared to where it was a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view that they have made progress in southern Iraq, and that they can therefore afford to reduce their force posture.

Q Now regarding the U.S. surge, the Congress is now on record opposing the President's policy --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the House is on record with a Sense of the Congress resolution.

Q Does it matter?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's an important debate. I think it's important to remember that this is a Sense of the Congress resolution, that it doesn't have any binding impact or effect. It's still hung up in the Senate because the Democrats haven't agreed to allow our guys to vote on a resolution they'd like to have a vote on which would be a commitment not to reduce funding for the troops when they're in the field. So there's a certain amount of politics involved, I suppose.

The important thing is that we go forward with a successful strategy to prevail in Iraq. Ultimately, this ought to be about winning in Iraq, not about posturing on Capitol Hill. And I think the important debate will come up down the road when we get time to vote, for example, on the supplemental, or if there are votes in the meantime that do have a significant impact, have a binding impact, if you will, especially with respect to appropriations.

Q Because Congressman Murtha and Speaker Pelosi have made it clear that what they would like to do is they would like to stop the surge. Can they do it? Do they have the power to stop the surge?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't think so. The question is whether or not they have the votes. Jack Murtha is an old friend of mine. We've done a lot of business together over the years. When I was Secretary of Defense, he was perhaps my closest ally on Capitol Hill. Jack clearly has a different perspective. With respect to Iraq, I think he's dead wrong. I think, in fact, if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy. The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people -- in fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit.

I think that's exactly the wrong course to go on. I think that's the course of action that Speaker Pelosi and Jack Murtha support. I think it would be a huge mistake for the country.

Q Now you just made a very clear statement in your speech saying the American people do not support a policy of retreat.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe that.

Q Is that policy that we hear from the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi -- from other Democrats, is that a policy of defeat?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q So the American people don't stand with the Democrats, what the Democrats are trying to do?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think the American people want to see first and foremost success in Iraq. I think the preference would be -- even those who are not happy with the current situation, given a choice would prefer a situation in which we succeed in Iraq in terms of being able to deal with the security situation, turn things over to the Iraqis so the Iraqis can govern themselves. But I think to do what Nancy Pelosi is suggesting -- and she's made it very clear on many occasions that she, in fact, wants to get out -- that that's exactly the wrong medicine. It's the wrong course of action. It will do nothing but encourage the terrorists. And it will have the devastating long-term consequences in the global war on terror.

You can't look at Iraq in isolation. You've got to look at it in terms of its impact, what we're doing in Afghanistan, what we're doing in Pakistan, what we're doing in Saudi Arabia. All those areas are part of the global battlefield, if you will, and you can't quit in one place and then persuade all your allies who are helping you in all those other theaters, if you will, to continue the fight. So the thing we need to do is to let the President's strategy have an opportunity to work. The Senate just confirmed Dave Petraeus unanimously -- not a single vote against him -- and then you've got a lot of senators turning around saying, but, we don't want to give you the resources you need to do the job we've asked you to do for us. So I do think that the important thing here is that we support the troops and we support the strategy, that we give it a chance to work, and that we not lose sight of the fact that our ultimate objective has to be victory.

 

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Interview by Jonathan Karl, ABC News, February 21, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070221.html


This war against the terrorists, this war to protect ourselves, takes place on many fronts. One such front is Iraq. We're on the offense in Iraq, as we should be, against extremists and killers. I recently announced a new strategy for Iraq -- it's a plan that demands more from the Iraqi government. Not only do we demand more from the Iraqi government, but so do the Iraqi people demand more from the Iraqi government. They want to live in peace. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand a mother in downtown Baghdad wants her child to be able to walk the streets peacefully, just like mothers here in America want their children to be able to go to a playground and play peacefully.

I made Baghdad the top security priority. In other words, it's important, in order to achieve our objective, that the capital city of this grand country be secure. And I sent reinforcements to our troops so they can accomplish that mission. I spent a lot of time with members of my administration thinking about the way forward in Iraq. And we listened to a lot of opinions and a lot of different ideas. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success.

And the reason why I mention success is, it's important for us to succeed. It's important for us to help this young democracy fight off the extremists so moderation can prevail. It's important for us to stand with this young democracy as they live -- as they try to build a society under the most modern constitution written in the Middle East, a constitution approved by millions of their citizens.

One of the interesting things that I have found here in Washington is there is strong disagreement about what to do to succeed, but there is strong agreement that we should not fail. People understand the consequences of failure. If we were to leave this young democracy before the job is done, there would be chaos, and out of chaos would become vacuums, and into those power vacuums would flow extremists who would be emboldened; extremists who want to find safe haven.

As we think about this important front in the war against extremists and terrorists, it's important for our fellow citizens to recognize this truth: If we were to leave Iraq before the job is done, the enemy would follow us home.

Our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is now on the ground in Baghdad. I visited him by secure video yesterday. He reports that coalition troops are arriving on schedule. He says the Iraqi government is following through on its commitment to deploy three additional army brigades in the capital. Prime Minister Maliki has said part of our strategy is to put more Iraqis in the fight in the capital city to achieve our objective, and he's doing that. So far, coordination between Iraqi and coalition forces has been good -- they are beginning joint operations to secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, and insurgents, and the criminals, and the roaming death squads. They're doing what the Iraqi people want in Baghdad -- they want a peaceful life.

The initial signs of progress are encouraging. Yet it's important for us to recognize that this is the beginning of what will be a difficult operation in the Iraqi capital. Our troops are risking their lives. As they carry out the new strategy, they need our patience, and they need our support. When General Petraeus' nomination was considered three weeks ago in the United States Senate, the senators voted unanimously to confirm him to his new position, and I appreciate that affirmation, that strong statement for this good General.

Now, the House is debating a resolution that disapproves of our new strategy. This may become the first time in the history of the United States Congress that it has voted to send a new commander into battle and then voted to oppose his plan that is necessary to succeed in that battle.

Members of Congress have every right to express their opinion -- and I fully expect them to do so. The resolution they are debating is non-binding. Soon the Congress is going to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding -- a bill to provide emergency funding for our troops. Our men and women in uniform are counting on their elected leaders to provide them with the support they need to accomplish their mission. We have a responsibility, Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility to give our troops the resources they need to do their job and the flexibility they need to prevail.

 

- George W. Bush, President Bush Discusses Progress in Afghanistan, Global War on Terror, February 15, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070215-1.html


I have just finished a conversation with General David Petraeus. He gave me his first briefing from Iraq. He talked about the Baghdad security plan. It's the plan that I described to the nation last January, and it's a plan that's beginning to take shape. General Petraeus and General Odierno talked about how the fact that the Iraqi government is following through on its commitment to deploy three additional army brigades, Iraqi army brigades in the capital. We talked about where those troops are being deployed, the position of U.S. troops with them, as well as the embeds with the Iraqi troops, and we talked about the plan.

He also talked about the new Iraqi commander. The commander who Prime Minister Maliki picked to operate the Baghdad security plan is in place; they're setting up a headquarters and they're in the process of being in a position to be able to coordinate all forces. In other words, there's still some work to be done there to get the command and control center up and running in Baghdad.

We talked about the fact that our coalition troops that are heading into Baghdad will be arriving on time. In other words, I'm paying attention to the schedule of troop deployments to make sure that they're there, so that General Petraeus will have the troops to do the job -- the number of troops to do the job that we've asked him to do.

We talked about the coordination between Iraqi and coalition forces. And I would characterize their assessment as the coordination is good. In other words, there's good conversation, constant conversation between the commanders of our troops and their troops, and that's a positive development.

The operation to secure Baghdad is going to take time, and there will be violence. We saw on our TV screens the terrorists will send car bombs into crowded markets. In other words, these are people that will kill innocent men, women and children to achieve their objective, which is to discourage the Iraqi people, to foment sectarian violence and to, frankly, discourage us from helping this government do its job.

Yesterday there was a suicide bomber. In other words, there's an active strategy to undermine the Maliki government and its Baghdad security plan. And our generals understand that, they know that they're all aimed at, frankly, causing people here in America to say it's not worth it. And I can understand why people are concerned when they turn on the TV screens and see this violence. It's disturbing to people, and it's disturbing to the Iraqi people. But it reminds me of how important it is for us to help them succeed. If you think the violence is bad now, imagine what it would look like if we don't help them secure the city, the capital city of Baghdad.

I fully recognize we're not going to be able to stop all suicide bombers. I know that. But we can help secure that capital; help the Iraqis secure that capital so that people have a sense of normalcy -- in other words, that they're able to get a better sense that this government of theirs will provide security. People want to live in peace; they want to grow up in a peaceful environment. And the decision I made is going to help the Iraqi government do that.

When General Petraeus' nomination was considered three weeks ago, the United States Senate voted unanimously to confirm him, and I appreciated that vote by the senators. And now members of the House of Representatives are debating a resolution that would express disapproval of the plan that General Petraeus is carrying out. You know, in recent months, I've discussed our strategy in Iraq with members of Congress from both political parties. Many have told me that they're dissatisfied with the situation in Iraq. I told them I was dissatisfied with the situation in Iraq. And that's why I ordered a comprehensive review of our strategy.

I've listened to a lot of voices; people in my administration heard a lot of voices. We weighed every option. I concluded that to step back from the fight in Baghdad would have disastrous consequences for people in America. That's the conclusion I came to. It's the conclusion members of my staff came to. It's the conclusion that a lot in the military came to.

And the reason why I say "disastrous consequences," the Iraqi government could collapse, chaos would spread, there would be a vacuum, into the vacuum would flow more extremists, more radicals, people who have stated intent to hurt our people. I believe that success in Baghdad will have success in helping us secure the homeland.

What's different about this conflict than some others is that if we fail there, the enemy will follow us here. I firmly believe that. And that's one of the main reasons why I made the decision I made. And so we will help this Iraqi government succeed. And the first step for success is to do something about the sectarian violence in Baghdad so they can have breathing space in order to do the political work necessary to assure the different factions in Baghdad, factions that are recovering from years of tyranny, that there is a hopeful future for them and their families. I would call that political breathing space.

And by providing this political breathing space, in other words, giving the Maliki government a chance to reconcile and do the work necessary to achieve reconciliation, it'll hasten the day in which we can change our force posture in Iraq. A successful strategy obviously -- a successful security strategy in Bagdad requires more than just military action. I mean, people have to see tangible results in their lives. They have to see something better. They not only have to feel secure where they live, but they've got to see positive things taking place.

The other day, the Iraqi government passed a $41 billion budget, $10 billion of which is for reconstruction and capital investment. There's a lot of talk in Washington about benchmarks. I agree -- "benchmarks" meaning that the Iraqi government said they're going to do this; for example, have an oil law as a benchmark. But one of the benchmarks they laid out, besides committing troops to the Iraqi security plan, was that they'll pass a budget in which there's $10 billion of their own money available for reconstruction and help. And they met the benchmark. And now, obviously, it's important they spend the money wisely.

They're in the process of finalizing a law that will allow for the sharing of all revenues among Iraq's peoples. In my talks with members of Congress, some have agreed with what I'm doing, many who didn't -- they all, though, believe it's important for the Iraqi government to set benchmarks and achieve those benchmarks. And one benchmark we've all discussed was making it clear to the Iraqi people that they have a stake in the future of their country by having a stake in the oil revenues. And so the government is in the process of getting an oil revenue law that will help unify the country.

The Iraqi government is making progress on reforms that will allow more of its citizens to reenter political life. Obviously, I'm paying close attention to whether or not the government is meeting these benchmarks, and will continue to remind Prime Minister Maliki that he must do so.

We've given our civilians and commanders greater flexibility to fund our economic assistance money. Part of the strategy in Baghdad is to clear, and then to hold, and then to build. We've been pretty good about clearing in the past; we haven't been good about holding -- "we" being the Iraqis and coalition forces. So we spent time today talking to General Petraeus about the need, his need and his understanding of the need to hold neighborhoods so that the people, themselves, in the capital city feel more secure.

But also part of the strategy is to make sure that we build. So we're giving our commanders flexibility with reconstruction money that they have at their disposal. We're also sending more PRTs, provincial reconstruction teams, into Iraq, trying to speed up their arrival into Iraq so that the Iraqi people see tangible benefits from the government that they elected under one of the most progressive constitutions in the Middle East.

Later this week the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution that opposes our new plan in Iraq -- before it has a chance to work. People are prejudging the outcome of this. They have every right to express their opinion, and it is a non-binding resolution. Soon Congress is going to be able to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding, a bill providing emergency funding for our troops. Our troops are counting on their elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to provide them with the support they need to do their mission. We have a responsibility, all of us here in Washington, to make sure that our men and women in uniform have the resources and the flexibility they need to prevail.

...

Q Mr. President, do you agree with the National Intelligence Estimate that we are now in a civil war in Iraq? And, also, you talk about victory, that you have to have victory in Iraq; it would be catastrophic if we didn't. You said again today that the enemy would come here, and yet you say it's not an open-ended commitment. How do you square those things?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, victory in Iraq is not going to be like victory in World War II. It's one of the challenges I have to explain to the American people what Iraq will look like in a situation that will enable us to say we have accomplished our mission.

First, the -- Iraq will be a society in which there is relative peace. I say "relative peace" because if it's like zero car bombings, it never will happen that way. It's like -- the fundamental question is, can we help this government have the security force level necessary to make sure that the ethnic cleansing that was taking place in certain neighborhoods has stopped.

Look, there's criminality in Iraq, as well as the ethnic violence. And we've got to help the Iraqis have a police force that deals with criminals. There is an al Qaeda presence in Iraq, as you know. I believe some of the spectacular bombings have been caused by al Qaeda. As a matter of fact, Zarqawi -- the terrorist Zarqawi, who is not an Iraqi, made it very clear that he intended to use violence to spur sectarian -- car bombings and spectacular violence to spur sectarian violence. And he did a good job of it.

And so there -- and then there's this disaffected Sunnis, people who believe that they should still be in power in spite of the fact that the Shia are the majority of the country, and they're willing to use violence to try to create enough chaos so they get back in power.

The reason I described that is that no matter what you call it, it's a complex situation, and it needed to be dealt with inside of Iraq. We've got people who say civil war, we've got people on the ground who don't believe it's a civil war. But nevertheless, it is -- it was dangerous enough that I had to make a decision to try to stop it, so that a government that is bound by a constitution, where the country feels relatively secure as a result of a security force that is even-handed in its application of security; a place where the vast resources of the country -- this is a relatively wealthy country, in that they've got a lot of hydrocarbons -- is shared equally amongst people; that there is a federalism that evolves under the Constitution where the local provinces have got authority, as well; and where people who may have made a political decision in the past and yet weren't criminals can participate in the life of the country; and is an ally in the war on terror. In other words, that there is a bulwark for moderation, as opposed to a safe haven for extremism. And that's what I would view as successful.

Q Do you believe it's a civil war, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I can only tell you what people on the ground, whose judgment -- it's hard for me, living in this beautiful White House, to give you an assessment, firsthand assessment. I haven't been there; you have, I haven't. But I do talk to people who are and people whose judgment I trust, and they would not qualify it as that. There are others who think it is. It is, however, a dangerous situation, thereby requiring action on my part.

Listen, I considered several options -- one, doing nothing, and that if you don't believe the situation was acceptable, then you should do something. And I didn't believe the situation was acceptable. Secondly, I could have listened to the advice of some and pulled back and hoped for the best. I felt that would be extraordinarily dangerous for this young democracy, that the violence in Baghdad could escalate mightily and then spill out across the country, creating chaos, vacuums into which extremism would flow; or make the decision I made, which is to reinforce the troops that were on the ground, to help this Iraqi government and security force do what they're supposed to do.

...

Q I'd like to ask you about troop morale.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q As you know, a growing number of troops are on their second, third or fourth tour in Iraq. There have been a growing number of reports about declining morale among fighting men. I spoke personally to an infantry commander -- tough guy, patriot -- who says more and more of the troops are asking, questioning what they're doing here. Does this come as a surprise to you? Are you aware of this? Is it a minority opinion, is it a growing opinion, and does it concern you?

THE PRESIDENT: I am -- what I hear from commanders is that the place where there is concern is with the family members; that our troops, who have volunteered to serve the country, are willing to go into combat multiple times, but that the concern is with the people on the home front. And I can understand that. And I -- and that's one reason I go out of my way to constantly thank the family members. You know, I'm asking -- you're obviously talking to certain people, or a person. I'm talking to our commanders. Their job is to tell me what -- the situation on the ground. And I have -- I know there's concern about the home front. I haven't heard deep concern about the morale of the troops in Iraq.

Q -- tell you?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, they'd tell me that. Sure, absolutely. Just like they told me that they thought they needed extra troops to do the job. Sure.

Listen, I want our troops out of there as quickly as possible. But I also want to make sure that we get the job done. And I made the decision I made in order to do so.

...

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, it seems pretty clear where this Iraq vote in the House is headed. Your press secretary has said repeatedly that members of Congress ought to watch what they say and be concerned about the message that they're sending to our enemy. I'm wondering, do you believe that a vote of disapproval of your policy emboldens the enemy? Does it undermine your ability to carry out your policies there? And, also, what are you doing to persuade the Democratic leadership in Congress not to restrict your ability to spend money in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thanks. A couple of points. One, that I understand the Congress is going to express their opinion, and it's very clear where the Democrats are, and some Republicans; I know that. They didn't like the decision I made. And by the way, that doesn't mean that I think that they're not good, honorable citizens of the country. I just have a different opinion. I considered some of their opinions and felt like it would not lead to a country that could govern itself, sustain itself, and be an ally in the war on terror. One.

Secondly, my hope, however, is that this non-binding resolution doesn't try to turn into a binding policy that prevents our troops from doing that which I have asked them to do. That's why I keep reminding people, on the one hand you vote for David Petraeus in a unanimous way, and then the other hand you say that you're not going to fund the strategy that he thought was necessary to do his job, a strategy he testified to in front of the Senate. I'm going to make it very clear to the members of Congress, starting now, that they need to fund our troops and they need to make sure we have the flexibility necessary to get the job done.

Secondly, I find it interesting that there is a declaration about a plan that they have not given a chance to work. Again, I understand, I understand. The other part of your question?

Q It emboldens --

THE PRESIDENT: The only thing I can tell you is that when I speak, I'm very conscience [sic] about the audiences that are listening to my words. The first audience, obviously, is the American people. The second audience would be the troops and their families. That's why I appreciate the question about whether or not -- about the troop morale, it gave me a chance to talk to the families and how proud we are of them.

Third, no question people are watching what happens here in America. The enemy listens to what's happening, the Iraqi people listen to the words, the Iranians. People are wondering; they're wondering about our commitment to this cause. And one reason they wonder is that in a violent society, the people sometimes don't take risks for peace if they're worried about having to choose between different sides, different violent factions. As to whether or not this particular resolution is going to impact enemy thought, I can't tell you that.

But I can tell you that people are watching the debate. I do believe that the decision I made surprised people in the Middle East. And I think it's going to be very important, however, that the Iraqi government understand that this decision was not an open-ended commitment, that we expect Prime Minister Maliki to continue to make the hard decisions he's making.

Unlike some here, I'm a little more tolerant of a person who has been only in government for seven months and hasn't had a lot of -- and by the way, a government that hasn't had a lot of experience with democracy. And on the other hand, it's important for him to know, and I believe he does know, that the American people want to see some action and some positive results. And listen, I share that same desire.

The faster that the Maliki government steps up security in Baghdad, the more quickly we can get to what Baker-Hamilton recommended, and that is embedding and training over the rise in presence, protection of the territorial integrity of Iraq, and a strong hunt for al Qaeda, and terrorists who would try to use that country as safe haven. I thought the Baker-Hamilton made a lot of sense, their recommendations. We just weren't able to get there if the capital was up in flames. That's why I made the decision I made.

 

- George W. Bush, Press Conference, February 14, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070214-2.html


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that the United States could start withdrawing troops from Iraq later this year -- "if circumstances on the ground permit."

Gates made the remark in answer to questioning from Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Gates was asked how much longer troops would remain deployed in Iraq before the United States begins to draw them down.

"It's hard to make any kind of a real prediction, especially where our adversaries have a vote," Gates said.

However, he said, "I would hope we would be able to begin drawing down our troops later this year" -- if a "plan to quiet Baghdad is successful," Iraqis accept "their responsibilities" and assume "leadership," and they also carry out "political reconciliation."

...

Gates also said President Bush's "surge" plan to send an additional 21,500 troops into Baghdad and the insurgent-stricken Anbar province is "not the last chance" in Iraq.

Many observers agree there would be "serious consequences for this country and for the region were we to leave Iraq in chaos," Gates told the panel.

The defense chief responded to questions and remarks from Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, who cited quotes calling the operation "the last chance" or "the last, best chance."

"To me, that type of rhetoric is inviting -- almost it's a timetable for the Baghdad operation. If it doesn't succeed, it was our last chance," Warner said.

Warner is a sponsor -- along with the committee's Democratic chairman, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan -- of a Senate resolution that opposes the president's new security plan.

The Senate was scheduled to debate and vote on the resolution this week, but Republican senators late Monday succeeded in blocking the resolution from coming to the floor by winning a procedural vote.

Warner asked whether the Bush administration is "thinking beyond the Baghdad operation" to develop other ways to help the Iraqi government in case the plan doesn't meet its goals.

Gates said he is thinking about alternatives.

"I think that if this operation were not to succeed -- and we clearly are hoping it will succeed, planning for it to succeed, allocating the resources for it to succeed -- but I would tell you that I think I would be irresponsible if I weren't thinking about what the alternatives might be if that didn't happen. But we, at this point, are planning for its success," Gates said.

 

- Defense chief: Iraq drawdown could begin this year, CNN, February 6, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/02/06/us.iraq/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


Q Let's start with Iraq, if I may. There's a lot of skepticism on the Hill, even inside the administration about the Iraqi Prime Minister's abilities, desire to take down the militias. Some people have said the militias have put him into power, so why would he take them down or want to take them down. So what gives you the confidence to think that he can actually be up to the job?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we've got a lot of people who want to judge the success of the Maliki administration after some nine months in office. I think it's a little premature. I think he has been direct and forthright in responding to our concerns. I think there is some evidence that he's already beginning to act in terms of, for example, Iraqi forces rounding up as many as 600 members of the Jaish al Mahdi in the last couple of weeks. His commitment to us is to go after those who are responsible for the violence, whoever they may be -- whether they're Baathist or former regime elements or militia, Shia militia or criminal elements. And I think at this stage, we don't have any reason to doubt him.

Q You don't think it's a token gesture?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think it's -- people are trying to make a judgment on whether or not this plan is going to work I think far too early. And I think in fairness to the Iraqis, they need to be given an opportunity to follow through on their commitments.

Q The President and I think you also have spoken about the possibility of regional war in case of American withdrawal, a chaos in Iraq, and I think the President referred to it as an epic battle between extremists. What's the basis for thinking that it would be a broader war? What lies behind that kind of analysis in your mind?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it's a concern that the current level of sectarian violence -- Shia on Sunni and Sunni on Shia violence would increase, and perhaps break out in other parts of the country. It's pretty well concentrated right now in the Baghdad area.

There are a lot of other concerns, as well, with what would happen if we were to withdraw from Iraq and do what many in the Democratic Party want us to do. It clearly would have, I think, consequences on a regional basis in terms of the efforts that we've mounted not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This is a conflict that we're involved in on a wide variety of fronts in that part of the world. And hundreds of thousands of people literally have signed on in that battle to take on the al Qaeda or the al Qaeda types, in part because the United States is there, because we're committed, because we provide the leadership, and because we're working closely with people like President Musharraf in Pakistan, and Karzai in Afghanistan and so forth.

And a decision by the United States to withdraw from Iraq I think would have a direct negative impact on the efforts of all of those other folks who would say wait a minute, if the United States isn't willing to complete the task in Iraq that they may have to reconsider whether or not they're willing to put their lives on the line serving in the security forces in Afghanistan, for example, or taking important political positions in Afghanistan, or the work that the Saudis have done against the al Qaeda inside the kingdom.

All of a sudden, the United States which is the bulwark of security in that part of world would I think no longer -- could no longer be counted on by our friends and allies that have put so much into this struggle.

Q But would that encourage them to take a role in an Iraqi civil war? There's this idea that regional powers would step in.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think -- I think when you look at Iraq, you have to look at Iraq in the broader context. And you cannot evaluate the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq only in terms of Iraq. You've got to look at it in terms of what it means in other parts of the globe, really.

Remember what the strategy is here for al Qaeda. Their strategy is that they can break our will. They can't beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have -- but they believe firmly because they talk about it all the time -- that they can, in fact, break the will of the American people and change our policies if they just kill enough Americans, or kill enough innocent civilians.

And they cite Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 as evidence of that, and then they see the debate here in the United States over whether or not we've got the right policy in Iraq, whether or not we ought to stay committed there as evidence reinforcing their view that, in fact, the United States can be forced to withdraw if they simply stay the course that they're on, that is to say the al Qaeda and the terrorist extremists stay the course that they're on.

So Iraq to some extent is a test of that basic fundamental proposition. Is their strategic view that we won't complete the job correct? Or is our strategic view correct, that we can, in fact, organize people in that part of the world, as well as use our forces in order to achieve a significant victory and defeat those elements that, among other things launched an attack on the United States on 9/11 and killed 3,000 Americans.

Q You've made the case that a collapsed Iraq would become a terrorist haven. The President has also said that. Al Qaeda is essentially --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look at what happened to Afghanistan.

Q But al Qaeda is essentially a new organization in Iraq, a Sunni organization and it has this element of foreign fighters. Isn't there a reason to think that if there was full-blown civil war, the Shia would essentially beat them and neutralize that as being a hostile force as they take control of the country?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: What's the basis for that?

Q There are more Shia.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let's look at Afghanistan. In 1996, there were no al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That's when bin Laden moved in and found refuge there. A handful of Arabs, foreign fighters, if you will, subsequently opened up training camps, trained somewhere -- estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000 terrorists in the late '90s, developed a safe haven and a base of operations from which they blew up American embassies in East Africa, attacked the USS Cole, launched the planning and training for 9/11. That all took place in Afghanistan under circumstances that are similar to what you've just hypothesized about for Iraq.

Q Okay. Can we talk about Iran? You've traveled the region, you have extensive contact especially in the Gulf, the Saudis, what are you hearing about their concerns about Iran's rise, its role in the region now?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think there's widespread concern throughout the region about Iran, and in particular, Iran under Ahmadinejad. I think a lot of people in the area -- I don't want to attribute this to any one particular government -- but a lot of people in the area feel directly threatened. They're concerned about Iran using surrogates such as the Syrians and Hezbollah, for example, in an effort to topple the government of Lebanon. They're concerned about Iran working through Hamas to prevent any progress of the peace process vis-a-vis Israel. They are concerned about sort of a struggle for leadership of the Islamic world between Shia and Iran and Sunnis elsewhere. They're concerned about Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons. And of course, there's a long history of Iran trying to asset itself as the dominant power in the region. It has been a theme that you can find running back several decades.

And one of the unique things I find now as I talk to representatives of governments from the region is they're all pretty much in agreement on that proposition -- greater agreement if you will among the folks in the region than I can recall on most other propositions in recent years.

Q Is there a concern from those allies that America is too tied down, too overwhelmed with the situation in Iraq to deal or have the capacity to deal with Iran?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen that. I think most of the nations in that part of the world believe their security is supported, if you will, by the United States. They want us to have a major presence there. When we -- as the President did, for example, recently -- deploy another aircraft carrier task force to the Gulf, that sends a very strong signal to everybody in the region that the United States is here to stay, that we clearly have significant capabilities, and that we are working with friends and allies as well as the international organizations to deal with the Iranian threat.

Q That deployment I suppose raised another round of speculation inside Washington that military action was being worked on, that something was around the corner, can you see a scenario where air strikes on Iran would be justified?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to speculate about --

Q It's my job.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- security action. You've got to ask, but the fact is we are doing what we can to try to resolve issues such as the nuclear question diplomatically through the United Nations, but we've also made it clear that we haven't taken any options off the table.

Q Can we switch to some politics right now? Politics of Iraq, especially. There has been little open support for the President's plan for extra troops in Iraq from the Republican Party. John Warner has obviously come out fairly strongly against it. Do you worry that the party has lost the stomach for the fight?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think -- my sense of it is that the election results last November obviously represented a blow to our friends on the Hill, Republicans on the Hill -- to go from majority to minority status. I think a lot of members were concerned or felt that their political fortunes were adversely affected by our ongoing operations in Iraq.

My sense of it is that what's happened here now over the last few weeks is that the President has shored up his position with the speech he made a couple of weeks ago, specifically on Iraq. And I think the speech, frankly Tuesday night, the State of the Union address was one of his best. I think there's been a very positive reaction of people who saw the speech. And I think to some extent that's helped shore us up inside the party on the Hill.

Now, we haven't had a lot of votes yet. The one vote that we've seen was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday where -- with the exception of Chuck Hagel -- the Republicans were united in opposing what Biden and Levin and so forth were suggesting. So I think at this stage, that most members on our side of the aisle recognize that what's ultimately going to count here isn't sort of all the hoorah that surrounds these proposals so much as it's what happens on the ground in Iraq. And we're not going to know that for a while yet.

We've got a very good man in Dave Petraeus going out to take command and I think a credible program. And the ultimate test will be how well it works.

Q Senator Hagel said some pretty harsh things about the administration yesterday. He said, there was no strategy. He said --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's not the first time.

Q Well, he said it was a -- the "ping-pong game with human beings." Do you have a reaction to that kind of comment?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I thought that Joe Lieberman's comments two days ago before -- it was when the Armed Services Committee had General Petraeus up for his confirmation hearings were very important. And Joe basically said that the plan deserved an opportunity to succeed that -- I think this was Joe, if it wasn't Joe, one of the other members did -- that we're sending General Petraeus out with probably a unanimous or near unanimous vote, and that it didn't make sense for Congress to simultaneously then pass a resolution disapproving of the strategy in Iraq.

There are consequences of what Congress does under these circumstances. And I thought Joe was effective in pointing out some of those consequences, both from the standpoint of our people who are putting their lives on the line and for the nation, as well as consequences from the standpoint of our adversaries.

Q So you don't think Senator Hagel -- and now you dodged completely responding to his comments -- but they're not helpful to the cause and to the mission?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Let's say I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. But it's very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved.

Q May I ask about public opinion here because a series of -- a succession of polls have shown this low level of support for the war, for the President's new plan, looking back, you made some comments before the war talking about being greeted as liberators. You weren't the only one. And of course, the early part of the invasion did go better than people expected. But do you think that people weren't sufficiently prepared, public opinion wasn't sufficiently prepared for the length of this conflict, for the difficulties involved? And do you have any regrets about your own role in preparing public opinion for that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we -- the comments I made were based on the best information we had. I think there's no question but what the struggle has gone on longer than we anticipated, especially in Baghdad, that the events such as the bombing of the Golden Dome in Samarra a year ago was a deliberate al Qaeda strategy that Zarqawi pursued, and it worked. He finally provoked the Shia to retaliate against the Sunni. Things like that, that have I think constituted setbacks.

It does not, though, lead me to conclude that what we're doing in terms of our overall effort, taking down Saddam Hussein's regime standing up a new democracy in Iraq isn't a worthy objective. I think it is. I think we have made significant progress. There's still a lot more to do -- no question about it.

But I guess, the other sense I have that the conflict we're involved in -- not just Iraq but on the broader basis against al Qaeda, against the threat that's represented by the extreme elements of Islam on a global basis now is going to go on for a long time. And it's not something that's going to end decisively, and there's not going to be a day when we can say, there, now we have a treaty, problem solved. It's a problem that I think will occupy our successors maybe for two or three or four administrations to come.

It is an existential conflict. It is, in fact, about the future of civilization on large parts of the globe, in terms of what's represented by al Qaeda and their associates. And it's very important that we recognize it's a long-term conflict, and we have to be engaged. There might have been a time when we could retreat behind our oceans and feel safe and secure and not worry about what was happening in other parts of the globe. But that day passed on 9/11.

And now, when we face the very real prospect that attacks can be mounted against the United States from various parts of the globe, including Europe -- remember, the last threat was out of the U.K. with airliners to be blown up over the Atlantic -- and where the possibility exists that the terrorists could next time have far deadlier weapons than anything they have used to date, this is a very serious problem. And the United States cannot afford not to prevail.

 

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Interview by Richard Wolffe, Newsweek Magazine, January 28, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070128.html


BLITZER: The current situation there is very unstable. The president himself speaks about a nightmare scenario right now. He was contained, as you repeatedly said throughout the '90s, after the first Gulf War, in a box, Saddam Hussein.

CHENEY: He was -- after the first Gulf War, had managed to kick out all of the inspectors. He was provided payments to families of suicide bombers. He was a safe haven for terrorism, one of the prime state sponsors of terrorism, designated by our State Department for a long time.  He'd started two wars. He had violated 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions.  If he were still there today, we'd have a terrible situation.

BLITZER: But there is --

CHENEY: No, there is not. There is not. There's problems -- ongoing problems -- but we have in fact accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime, and there is a new regime in place that's been there for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off.  They have got a democratically-written constitution -- first ever in that part of the world. They've had three national elections. So there's been a lot of success.

BLITZER: How worried are you --

CHENEY: We still have more work to do to get a handle on the security situation, and the president's put a plan in place to do that.

BLITZER: How worried are you of this nightmare scenario, that the U.S. is building up this Shiite-dominated Iraqi government with an enormous amount of military equipment, sophisticated training, and then in the end, they're going to turn against the United States?

CHENEY: Wolf, that's not going to happen. The problem is, you've got --

BLITZER: They're -- warming up to Iran and Syria right now.

CHENEY: Wolf, you can come up with all kinds of what-ifs; you've got to be deal with the reality on the ground. The reality on the ground is, we've made major progress. We've still got a lot of work to do. There's a lot of provinces in Iraq that are relatively quiet. There's more and more authority transferred to the Iraqis all the time. But the biggest problem we face right now, is the danger than the United States will validate the terrorist's strategy, that in fact what will happen here, with all of the debate over whether or not we ought to stay in Iraq, where the pressure is from some quarters to get out of Iraq, if we were to do that, we would simply validate the terrorist's strategy, that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task --

CHENEY: That we don't have the stomach for the fight. That's the biggest threat.

BLITZER: Here's the problem as I see it, and tell me if I'm wrong -- that he seems to be more interested right now -- the prime minister of Iraq -- in establishing good relations with Iran and Syria than he is with moderate Arab governments, whether in Jordan, or Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

CHENEY: I just think you're wrong, Wolf. He's been working with all of them. They're all in the neighborhood. He's got to develop relationships with all of them, and he is.

BLITZER: Because he's a Shia, and these moderate Arab governments are Sunni.

CHENEY: He's also an Iraqi. He's not a Persian. There's a big difference between the Persians and the Arabs, although they're both Shia. So you can't just make the simple statement that he's Shia, therefore he's the enemy. The majority of the population in Iraq is Shia. And for the first time, they've had elections, and majority rule will prevail there.  But the notion that somehow the effort hasn't been worth it, or that we shouldn't go ahead and complete the task is just dead wrong.

BLITZER: Here's what Jim Webb, senator from Virginia said in the Democratic response last night -- he said, "The president took us into this war recklessly. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable and predicted disarray that has followed." And it's not just Jim Webb; it's some of your good Republican friends in the Senate and the House are now seriously questioning your credibility, because of the blunders and the failures. Gordon Smith...

CHENEY: Wolf, Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question. I just think it's hogwash.

BLITZER: That what? There were no blunders? The president himself said --

CHENEY: Remember with me what happened after in Afghanistan. The United States was actively involved in Afghanistan in the '80s, supported the effort against the Soviets. The mujahideen prevailed and everybody walked away. And in Afghanistan, within relatively short order, the Taliban came to power. They created this safe haven for al Qaeda. Training camps were established, where some 20,000 terrorists trained in the late '90s. And out of that, out of
Afghanistan -- because we walked away and ignored it -- we had the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the embassies in East Africa and 9/11, where the people trained and planned in Afghanistan for that attack and killed 3,000 Americans. That is what happens when we walk away from a situation like that in the Middle East.

CHENEY: We might have been able to do that before 9/11. But after 9/11, we learned that we have a vested interest in what happens on the ground in the Middle East. If you are going to walk away from Iraq today, and say, "Well, gee, it's too tough, we can't complete the task, we just are going to quit," you'll create exactly that same kind of situation again.
Now, the critics have not suggested a policy. They haven't put anything in place. All they want to do, all they've recommended is to redeploy or to withdraw our forces. The fact is we can complete the task in Iraq. And we're going to do it. We've got Petraeus, General Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy. It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task.

BLITZER: What if the Senate passes a resolution saying, This is not good idea? Will that stop you?

CHENEY: It won't stop us. And it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops. As General Petraeus said yesterday -- he was asked by Joe Lieberman, among others, in his testimony about this notion that somehow
the Senate could vote overwhelmingly for him, send him on his new assignment and then pass a resolution at the same time, say, "But we don't agree with the mission you've been given."

BLITZER: You're moving forward, no matter what the Congress does.

CHENEY: We are moving forward. We are moving forward. The Congress has control over the purse strings. They have the right, obviously, if they want, to cut off funding. But, in terms of this effort, the president's made his decision. We've consulted extensively with them. We'll continue to consult with the Congress. But the fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done. I think General Petraeus can do it. I think our troops can do it. And I think it's far too soon for the talking heads on television to conclude that it's impossible to do, it's not going to work, it can't possibly succeed.

BLITZER: What was the biggest mistake you made?

CHENEY: I think, in terms of mistakes, I think we underestimated the extent to which 30 years of Saddam's rule had really hammered the population, especially the Shia population, into submissiveness. It's very hard for them to stand up and take responsibility, in part because anybody who's done that in the past have had their heads chopped off.

BLITZER: Do you trust Nouri al-Maliki?

CHENEY: I do. At this point, I don't have any reason not to trust him.

BLITZER: Is he going to go after Muqtada al Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric who controls the Mehdi Army?

CHENEY: I think he has demonstrated -- I think he has demonstrated a willingness to take on any elements that violate the law.

BLITZER: Do you want him to arrest Muqtada al Sadr?

CHENEY: He has been active, just in recent weeks, in going after the Mehdi Army. There have been some six hundred of them arrested within the last --

BLITZER: Should he be arrested, Muqtada al Sadr?

CHENEY: That's a decision that's got to be made --

BLITZER: Because, as you know, the first U.S. general over there, Sanchez, said, This guy killed Americans, he has blood on his hands, he was wanted basically dead or alive. Whatever happened?

CHENEY: Wolf, you've got to let Nouri Maliki deal with the situation as he sees fit. And I think he will.

BLITZER: You think he's going to go after the Mehdi Army?

CHENEY: I think he will go after all of those elements in Iraq that are violating the law, that are contributing to sectarian violence.  There are criminal elements, there are Baathists -- former regime elements -- all of them have to be the target of the effort. He'll have a lot of help, because he'll have 160,000 U.S. forces there to work alongside the Iraqis to get the job done.

BLITZER: Here's the problem that you have, the administration: credibility with the Congress and with the American public, because of the mistakes, because of previous statements, "the last throes," the comment you made a year-and-a-half ago, the insurgency was in its last throes. How do you build up that credibility, because so many of these Democrats and a lot of Republicans now are saying, they don't believe you?

CHENEY: Well, Wolf, if the history books were written by people who are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure, including many of our friends in the media, the situation obviously would have been over a long time ago.  Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes. It is hard. It is difficult. It's one of the toughest things any president has to do. It's easy to stick your finger in the air and figure out which way the winds are blowing, and then to try to get in front of the herd. This president doesn't work that way. He also will be very clear, in terms of providing leadership going forward, for what we need to do in Iraq. Now the fact is, this is a vitally important piece of business. It needs to be done. The consequences of our not completing the task are enormous. Just think for a minute -- think for a minute, Wolf, in terms of what policy is being suggested here. What you're recommending, or at least what you seem to believe the right course is, is to bail out --

BLITZER: Yes, I am. I'm just asking.

CHENEY: No, you're not asking.

BLITZER: I'm just asking...

CHENEY: Implicit in what the critics are suggesting, I think, is an obligation of saying, Well, here's what we need to do, or, We're not going to do anything else, we're going to accept defeat. Defeat is not an answer. We can, in fact, prevail here and we need to prevail. And the consequences of not doing so are enormous.

 

- Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room”, January 24, 2007

source:  http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2007/images/01/24/cheney.transcript.pdf

© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia -- and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. 

We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we're deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we're sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out.  We didn't drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it's time for their government to act. Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad -- and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party -- and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks -- to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you've made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way.

 

- George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 23, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070123-2.html


Q: You're in the midst of a program to try to explain your new program (on Iraq). We've had no weapons of mass destruction, we've had continuing violence, we've had problems — are you afraid that people are going to just tune you out, in terms of Iraq?

A: People want to know whether or not we've got a plan to succeed. And I will tell them that the plan I have … and what I will then summarize in the speech, again, is the best chance to succeed. A lot of Americans understand that failure … could lead to great danger for the United States — if we fail in Iraq, this country becomes less secure.

Q: Are you seeing any evidence that people are listening or responding to your argument?

A: What matters is what happens on the ground. That would be the best way to show the American people that the strategy, the new strategy I've outlined, will work.

Q: Are you worried about a mass exodus from your party over Iraq?

A: There's no question there's a lot of skepticism, both Republicans and Democrats. And the best way to convince them that this makes sense is to implement it and show them that it works; show them that there is security in the capital … And what I would say to the members of Congress … for those who have condemned the plan before it had a chance to work, that you have a special obligation to put forth a plan that you think will work.

Q: Now Gen. Casey said today we're talking a surge of four to six months. Now after six months, can people start looking forward to bringing troops home?

A: We don't set timetables in this administration because an enemy will adjust their tactics based upon perceived action by the United States.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

Q: What specifically do you see in (al-Maliki) to make you think he is, in fact, the right guy for Iraq?

A: The Iraqi government has put out benchmarks. They have said they're going to move brigades into Baghdad, which is necessary to have the security plan work.

Last time … Iraqi battalions didn't show up in Baghdad, and there weren't enough troops to clear and hold. And so the prime minister, in the plan that he submitted to his people and worked with us on, said, "I will commit three brigades." And he said he has done so.

Secondly, he said the rules of engagement will be changed. In other words, Iraqi troops and U.S. troops will be able to chase down these death squad leaders and these people that are wreaking havoc on some of the neighborhoods inside of Baghdad, regardless of their political affiliation. I said that's important. And then notice the other day that 500 or 600 (Shiite) militia have been brought to justice as a result of … primarily Iraqi-led operations with U.S. help.

And so those are two areas right there on the security front where he has said he's going to do something, and he's beginning to do it. What matters to me is what happens on the ground.

Thirdly … we're beginning to see some progress toward an oil law. And my point to … the government, particularly Prime Minister Maliki, is we appreciate you saying you're going to do these things and now is the time for you to do them, and he's beginning to.

Q: What makes you think he really will? Because there seems like some tension between him and you or him and the Secretary of State?

A: What?

Q: Well, he criticized your comments about the hanging (of Saddam Hussein), for example.

A: I have got a good working relationship with Prime Minister Maliki. What matters, though, David, is his primary audience is the Iraqi people. He was elected after 12 million people went to the polls. Most people want to live in peace. Most people want to have a chance to succeed in life. Most people want the riches of a country shared.

And so the prime minister and his government put out plans to spend $10 billion to help with jobs and to help improve people's lives. He said he's going to do it, and the Iraqi people expect him to do it, and so do we.

Iraq after Bush's presidency

Q: Now I've often heard you say during the campaign, "The job of the president is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future presidents or future generations." Is Iraq going to be a problem for the next president?

A: The war on terror will be a problem for the next president. Presidents after me will be confronting with this, with an enemy that would like to strike the United States again, an enemy that is interested in spreading their vision — I call it a totalitarian vision of governance — an enemy that will kill innocent people to achieve their objectives and an enemy that would like to acquire weapons that could do serious damage.

This will be a long struggle. That's one reason why I believe it's important to increase the size of our United States Army and Marines, so future presidents will be in a position to utilize our military, if need be, to stay on the offense. It's also why I felt like the ruling … on (the) terrorist surveillance program was very important, because presidents will need to use this tool to better protect the homeland.

Q: Where do you see Iraq on Jan. 20, 2009? What kind of shape will it be in?

A: I see, first of all, Baghdad as a place where Iraqis, more and more, are taking the lead in operations, just like they did the other day in taking the lead against (Shiite) killers, but operations against people who would do harm to the Iraqi citizens. I see an atmosphere that had been affected by violence begin to change, and for people to begin to have faith in their government. I see the Iraqi government working the reconciliation process with an oil law, and changing the de-Baathification law — in other words, working for unity. I see a young government getting confidence, this unity government getting confidence, so that it can govern itself and sustain itself.

Q: Will the U.S. be out of Iraq in January of '09?

A: That's a timetable; I just told you we don't put out timetables. But I agreed with the Baker-Hamilton commission report that we need to be in a position where the Iraqis are in the lead and we would be embedded and/or training … additional Iraqi forces so that the people see that there's security on their behalf, and it's secured by Iraq.

 

- George W. Bush, Interview with USA Today's David Jackson, January 22, 2007

source:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-01-21-bush-qanda_x.htm

Copyright 2007 USA TODAY


The United States can "dramatically" cut its troop presence in Iraq within three to six months if it released the necessary weapons to the war-torn country's army, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview published in an early edition of The Times.

Maliki said that the violent insurgency in Iraq was bloodier and longer than it should have been because the United States refused to part with arms, and also rejected claims that his government was on "borrowed time" as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said.

"If we succeed in implementing the agreement between us to speed up the equipping and providing weapons to our military forces, I think that within three to six months our need for American troops will dramatically go down," Maliki was quoted as saying by The Times.

"That is on condition that there are real, strong efforts to support our military forces and equipping and arming them."

The United States has held back from supplying the Iraqi Army with large quantities of weapons because they have sometimes ended up with militia forces and even insurgents.

Speaking to The Times, White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe admitted that some of the Iraqi prime minister's criticisms were "valid."

By "self-admission we have had to re-do our training and equipment program," he said.

 

- Maliki calls on US to better arm Iraqi army, AFP, January 18, 2007

source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070117/wl_mideast_afp/usiraqmilitarydefence

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Thank you, sir.

MR. LEHRER: How do you feel about the way the Iraqi government handled the hangings of Saddam Hussein, and now more recently, two of his top aides?

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, I was pleased with the trials they got; I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the - particularly the Saddam Hussein - execution. It reinforced doubts in people's minds that the Maliki government and the unity government of Iraq is a serious government, and - which makes it harder for me to make the case to the American people that this is a government that does want to unify the country and move forward. The Saddam execution, however, was an important moment in some ways because it closed a terrible chapter and gives the unity government a chance to move forward. In other words, there's people that were around Iraq saying, well, I think he may come back. And that obviously is not going to happen. But I expressed my disappointment to Prime Minister Maliki when I talked to him the other day.

MR. LEHRER: Message not a good one about the government?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, the message is that it's a confusing message. It basically says to people, look, you conducted a trial and gave Saddam justice that he didn't give to others. But then, when it came to execute him, it looked like it was kind of a revenge killing. And it sent a mixed signal to the American people and the people around the world. And it just goes to show that this is a government that has still got some maturation to do.

MR. LEHRER: Today, the United Nations issued a report that said 34,000 Iraqi civilians have died in sectarian violence in the last year. What's the message of that, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Message is we better help this government stop the sectarian violence. I hear all kinds of different numbers, but the fact is that too many have died as the result of Shias killing Sunnis, Sunnis killing Shias and that I have made the decision that it is best to try to help this government stop this sectarian violence. Because otherwise, the violence - in my judgment, and I think in the judgment of others - if we don't help them stop it, it's going to get a lot worse, believe it or not. In other words, that if the United States does not step up to help the Iraqis secure Baghdad in particular, in other words, if we don't crack this now, that there is - the violence will spiral out of control. And if that were to happen, it will embolden Iran; it will provide safe haven for Sunni killers; I mean, it would just really create a very dangerous situation for the American people in the longer run.

MR. LEHRER: Just today, another 35 people were killed in bombings; 80 over the weekend.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, there is a difference between - look, death is terrible - but remember, some of these bombings are done by al-Qaida and their affiliates, all trying to create doubt and concern and create these death squads or encourage these death squads to roam neighborhoods. And it's going to be hard to make Baghdad zero - to make it bomb-proof. We do believe it's possible to help the Iraqis, working side by side with the Iraqis to secure some of these neighborhoods, which this government must do. It must provide for the security of its people.


Failure vs. success in Iraq

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, do you have a feeling of personal failure about Iraq right now?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm frustrated at times about Iraq because I understand the consequences of failure. I want the Iraqis to succeed for our own sake. This is a war; part of a broader war, and that if we fail in Iraq, there is a better likelihood that the enemy comes and hurts us here. And so, I am frustrated with the progress. If you were to take it and put me in an opinion poll and said do I approve of Iraq, I'd be one of those that said, no, I don't approve of what's taking place in Iraq. On the other hand, I do believe we can succeed. Look, I had a choice to make, Jim, and that is - one - do what we're doing. And one could define that maybe a slow failure. Secondly, withdraw out of Baghdad and hope for the best. I would think that would be expedited failure. And thirdly is to help this Iraqi government with additional forces - help them do what they need to do, which is to provide security in Baghdad.

I chose the latter because I think it's going to more likely be successful. Failure - and this is what is hard, I think, for the American people to understand and one of the reasons why I appreciate talking to you is that people have got to understand that if we fail in Iraq, it is likely there will be safe haven from which people will be able to launch attacks from America. It is likely there would be enormous clashes between radical Shia and radical Sunnis. It is likely that moderate governments could be toppled, in which case, people could get a hold of oil resources. You mix all that with an Iran with a nuclear weapon and we're looking at a generation of Americans threatened. And so therefore, we've got to get it - we've got to succeed. And that is why I put out the plan I put, because I think it's one that has got a better chance of any one I've seen around here that will succeed.

MR. LEHRER: But to be very direct about it, Mr. President, you had a few years here and you've been in charge. And you've made a lot of decisions; you've made a lot of judgments about things and they haven't worked. And so now you've made a new one. So why should anybody expect the new ones to work when the prior ones did not?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, actually - I will sound defensive - but some of my decisions actually have worked, like getting rid of Saddam Hussein and helping the Iraqi government form a unity government that is based on a novel constitution for the Middle East. As a matter of fact, in 2005, I thought - I mean, in 2006, I thought I'd be in a position to remove troops from Iraq, in other words, hand over more of the authorities to the Iraqis so they could take the fight, and then this sectarian violence that you described broke out. And the question is, do we try to stop it? Do we help the Iraqis stop it? And a year ago, I felt pretty good about the situation; I felt like we were achieving our objective, which is a country that can govern, sustain, and defend itself. No question, 2006 was a lousy year for Iraq. And so the question I'm now faced with is do I react to that or do we just begin to leave, which is - some people - decent people on Capitol Hill think we ought to do. I made the decision, let's succeed; let's work for success not work for failure.

MR. LEHRER: What does success mean in these terms now, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, well, success, Jim, means a government that is providing security for its people. A success means for the American people to see Iraqi troops chasing down killers with American help initially. A success means a Baghdad that is, you know, relatively calm compared to last year so that people's lives can go forward and a political process can go forward along with it. Success means the government taking steps to share the oil wealth or to deal with a de-Baathification law, to encourage local elections. Success means reconstruction projects that employ Iraqis. Success also means making sure al-Qaida doesn't get a foothold in Iraq, which they're trying to do in Anbar province. So success is measurable; it's definable; and last year was a year in which there was a setback to success.

MR. LEHRER: I guess the real question that remains on top of all of this, how was this allowed to happen that there was a bad 2006? I mean, that's 365 days; it was reported on a daily basis. People kept talking about it. There were all kinds of comments about it. So how did this happen, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, let's start with the Samarra bombing. And there was actually a fair amount of constraint by the Shias after the Samarra bombing, which took place I think in February or March last year. And the sectarian violence really didn't start spiraling out of control until the summer. Part of the failure for our reaction was ourselves. I mean, we should have found troops and moved them. But part of it was that the Iraqis didn't move troops. And I take responsibility for us not moving our own troops into Baghdad -

MR. LEHRER: Why didn't we move the troops, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, because I think the commanders there felt like it was important to make sure the Iraqis did first, or that the Iraqis made a focused, concerted effort. And they just didn't. There were supposedly six brigades committed and they sent two. And what's going to change this time is that they've now - we will watch them move brigades in that Baghdad - brigades that they promised they would. But we want the Iraqis in the lead in this fight. This is their government; this is their country. They were elected by 12 million people. And the American role is to help them. And help them this time means embedding with them, which we have done before, continuing to train an Iraqi force, expand the Iraqi force, help them get better equipment - but also in this case, serve side by side with the Iraqi forces as they secure these neighborhoods in Baghdad.

Deciding on the number of troops

MR. LEHRER: Is there a little bit of a broken egg problem here, Mr. President, that there is instability and there is violence in Iraq - sectarian violence, Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and now the United States helped create the broken egg and now says, okay, Iraqis, it's your problem. You put the egg back together, and if you don't do it quickly and you don't do it well, then we'll get the hell out.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, you know, that's an interesting question. I don't quite view it as the broken egg; I view it as the cracked egg --

MR. LEHRER: Cracked egg?

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- that - where we still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg. And I thought long and hard about the decision, Jim. Obviously it's a big decision for this theater in the war on terror, and you know, if I didn't believe we could keep the egg from fully cracking, I wouldn't ask 21,000 kids - additional kids to go into Iraq to reinforce those troops that are there.

What's different is an Iraqi attitude, and it is - look, failure last time was not enough troops in Baghdad, and the rules of engagement were such that our troops couldn't move when given an order. Their order was countermanded by Iraqi politicians - in other words, you need to go get this guy in a particular neighborhood, and they would be moving in toward him, and then the Iraqis would pull - say, well, we'd better not make that move right now, we'd better - it may be too much politics. And Prime Minister Maliki has assured his commander and our commander that the rules of engagement will be different this time. And so things have changed. In other words, I'm not putting troops into a situation where there hadn't been enough changes to assure me that we can make progress.

MR. LEHRER: General Casey said yesterday that the commander said that it may be spring or even summer before we have any signs of success from the new program -

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes.

MR. LEHRER: -- from the new strategy, and even then I can't guarantee you that it's going to work. That's the general; that's the guy who is the commander.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I - look, I mean, I think that's a -

MR. LEHRER: That's -

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- that's a sober assessment. Well, it's a sober assessment. I think he's not going to stand up and make guarantees that may or may not happen, but he is also the general who felt like we needed more troops, and he's also the general that believes this is the best chance of working. I think he's giving a realistic assessment for people.

I also said in my speech you can expect more killing. In other words, it's still going to be a dangerous environment because the enemy is likely to step up attacks to try to discourage the Iraqi government and to discourage the American people.

MR. LEHRER: Well, Mr. President, how can there then be a strategy based on trying to attain success if even more people are going to die - Americans as well as Iraqis?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, the - the purpose of the strategy, Jim, is to settle Baghdad down, is to secure neighborhoods, is to give the Iraqi people a chance to live in peace, which is what they want. And the way to do that is to send troops into neighborhoods to clean the neighborhoods of insurgents and terrorists, and it's to hold the neighborhoods. And the problem in the past, there weren't enough troops to hold the neighborhoods after neighborhoods had been cleared. And then to build is to have a political process behind it that will work.

We think this is the most comprehensive way of succeeding. The question is: is it worth it? And my point to you earlier was - and the point I made to Congress is - is that failure is - shouldn't be an option. As a matter of fact, most people in Washington agree with that. My point then is that if failure is not an option, what is your idea for success? And I've listened to all kinds of ideas on this. One idea was just keep doing what you're doing; another idea was to pull out of Baghdad, make it a slow-withdrawal concept. A lot of people believe - me included - that that would exacerbate the situation. It would make it impossible to succeed in Iraq. And then the final option is secure the capital and at the same time chase al-Qaida into Anbar. And what's different is that there would be more troops this time and better rules of engagement so that the Iraqi troops and our troops, working side by side, will be able to go after the enemy.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, is 21,500 troops really that many more troops to 130-some thousand? Is that really enough to do all the things that you intend and hope will do?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, that's certainly a question I had to consider. It's a - at some point in time, you know, the president - you listen to all the different points of view. I've heard somebody say none, and people say 40,000, but it's really going to be up to the military to make the final numbers that they think are necessary to achieve the mission, and that's what I have done in this case. I've listened to the commanders, five brigades - six brigades are committed to Iraq, five into Baghdad, so it's not 21,000 into Baghdad; it is -

MR. LEHRER: Seventeen-five (17,500).

PRESIDENT BUSH: Seventeen-five (17,500) into Baghdad; four (thousand) into Anbar. But this is the number that they felt comfortable with in achieving the mission, particularly with the additional Iraqi brigades that will be going into Baghdad.

MR. LEHRER: And yet, as we just discussed, the commanders say, hey, we need this - we think we can get this done, but we're not sure that this will even work. That's what the commanders -

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think - you know, I - I didn't listen to General Casey's comments. The only thing I can tell you is what he told me. He said this has got the best chance of working. And we thought about what is the best way to succeed, and this is the best way to succeed in his mind and in my mind.

Weighing the public's reaction

MR. LEHRER: Putting the whole thing together, Mr. President, there were two major factors that everybody said that played in your mind and in your decision making. One was the results of the mid-term elections. Another was the - were the findings and the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission. And the end result - some of the folks are saying - was that you decided a bipartisan approach, that - come up with something that everybody could accept and try to work together on as a result of the elections, as a result of Baker-Hamilton. You rejected that as an idea. Am I right about that?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Not really. I - the elections - you know, what made my determination that we needed to change policy was what was happening in Iraq; not what was happening in American elections. I want to succeed in Iraq.

And I fully understand, Jim, by the way, that the American people are going to say, okay, show us whether this works. When it's all said and done, what really matters is not my speech or my interview with you, but what happens on the ground. And that's my primary concern in coming up with something different, was that it wasn't working in Baghdad, so therefore we've got to do something different. One option was to leave, one option was to step up - but let me talk about Baker-Hamilton.

I welcomed James Baker and Lee Hamilton's work. First of all, I respect them as good, solid citizens who care a lot about this country. Second, they had some really good ideas in there, some of which I embraced. The notion of kind of embedding and removing combat troops makes a lot of sense to me, but not now - until we crack the - help the Iraqis crack the sectarian violence in Baghdad. They have a good strategy inherent in their report toward the role of U.S. troops inside Iraq. It's just that there needs to be an interim stage in order to achieve that objective. As a matter of fact, their report itself at one point suggested more troops might be needed in the interim before we implement their recommendations on - particularly for the military in their report.

MR. LEHRER: But the bottom line, Mr. President, was that when you put the plan together -- you spent, you know, five or six weeks developing the plan -

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes.

MR. LEHRER: -- that it was not driven primarily by, hey, we want something that the American people - Republicans and Democrats -- and members of Congress - Republicans and Democrats - that the experts - these and those and whatevers - can support. That was not what drove you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well - listen, I fully understand the president has got to convince the American people it's worth it and that we can succeed, and no doubt - and I've spent a lot of time during my presidency talking to the American people and educating the American people about the stakes and what we're trying to get done.

But my first consideration - and listen, I hope Republicans and Democrats support this, but no question there's a headwind. There's a lot of skepticism in Washington, D.C. There's skepticism about whether or not there's enough troops, whether we should be putting any troops, and there's skepticism whether the Maliki government will make the tough decisions necessary to succeed.

The common ground is - that I'm finding is most people say we can't fail, and no question I'd love to have bipartisan support. I mean, I'd love for Democrats and Republicans to stand behind me in the Rose Garden as I outline the plan, but the primary objective has got to be to succeed in Iraq. And so I'm not surprised that people are saying, okay, you may think this is necessary for success, but we're skeptical. And so we're in a period of - there's some pessimism and some skepticism here in Washington that I'm going to have to continue to work through. And - but ultimately, Jim, what's going to matter is whether or not there is success on the ground.

MR. LEHRER: But when - but when, Mr. President, does the skepticism and the criticism become so heavy and so prevalent that it becomes a factor? In other words, simply put, how in the world does any president of the United States run a war without the support of a majority of the American people and a majority of the Congress of the United States, no matter what the ins and outs are?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, and no question about that. And that's why I'm having this interview with you. I'm trying to do my very best to explain to people why success is vital. In other words, people have got to understand that if we decide and we grow weary of - and there's a lot of war weariness in this country, and I fully understand that -- and we say, okay, well, let's just leave; we can leave in stages, but let's just leave, or let's just pull back and hope that the Iraqis are able to settle their business, the consequences of that decision will be disastrous for the future of this country. And therefore, we got to keep working on ways to succeed, as far as I'm concerned.

And again I want to repeat this, if you don't mind.

MR. LEHRER: Sure.

PRESIDENT BUSH: The world will see - 20 years from now, it's conceivable the world will see a Middle East that's got Shia - radical Shia and radical Sunnis competing against each other for power, which will cause people to have to choose up sides in the Middle East, supporting ideologies that are the exact opposite of what we believe.

Secondly, it is likely, if that scenario were to develop, that Middle Eastern oil would fall in the hand of radicals, which they could then use to blackmail Western governments.

Thirdly, when you throw a nuclear weapon race in the midst of this, you've got a - you know, a kind of - a chance for radicals to use weapons of mass destruction in a form that would cause huge devastation. In other words, there would be a cauldron of radicalism and extremism that a future generation would have to deal with.

Now is the time to succeed in Iraq. That's why in my State of the Union address, and why in other speeches I have and will spend time talking about the need to defeat this ideology with an ideology that is hopeful - the ideology of hate with an ideology of hope, and that would be democracy.

And so the - Iraq is - Jim, is - must be viewed in a context just larger than that single battlefield. It must be viewed in context of how Iran reacts. It must be viewed in the context of democracies like Lebanon and the Palestinian territories - all being - these young democracies, by the way, being attacked by the same type of extremists that are attacking the democracy in Iraq.  I'm not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living.

Public contributions?

MR. LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you've just said - and you've said it many times - as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it's that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military - the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They're the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.

Now, here in Washington when I say, "What do you mean by that?," they say, "Well, why don't you raise their taxes; that'll cause there to be a sacrifice." I strongly oppose that. If that's the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I'm not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table. And you know, I am interested and open-minded to the suggestion, but this is going to be -

MR. LEHRER: Well -

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- this is like saying why don't you make sacrifices in the Cold War? I mean, Iraq is only a part of a larger ideological struggle. But it's a totally different kind of war, than ones we're used to.

MR. LEHRER: Well, for instance, Mr. President, some people have asked why -- and I would ask you about -- have you considered some kind of national service program, that would be civilian as well as military, that would involve more people in the effort to - not just militarily, but you talk about ideology, all this sort of stuff - in other words, to kind of muster the support of young Americans, and other Americans, in this struggle that you say is so monumental and so important.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, I have considered whether it ought to be compulsory, non-military service, I guess is the best way to put it. I'm not for compulsory military service, by the way. I think the volunteer army is working and we got to keep it strong.

I made the decision early on to set up what's - something called the USA Freedom Corps, which could encourage volunteerism; call people to take time out of their lives to serve our country with compassionate acts. And by the way, volunteerism is high in America.

But no, you know, I thought through compulsory national service and thought that the route that we picked was the best route.

MR. LEHRER: The best route. How would you define, finally, where the best route is going to end? If you - in other words, you have a plan now -

PRESIDENT BUSH: Right.

MR. LEHRER: -- and eventually, the plan is going to have to result in something. You said yourself it's going to have to result in something on the ground.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Right. Right. Right.

MR. LEHRER: What is that result going to be?

PRESIDENT BUSH: A Baghdad which is less violent, neighborhoods that are not being cleansed of sectarian violence, and a government that has got a security force - army and national police force - that is chasing down killers, whether they be Sunni killers or Shia killers. In other words, a country that is beginning to function, first and foremost - a government functioning as - to provide security for people. Most people want to live in peace, and yet, the violence is such that they're not able to do so.

Secondly, I want to see a political process that tends to unify the country as opposed to divide the country. And that would be an oil law; that would be reforming the de-Ba'athification law; that will be local elections. The Iraqi government said they're going to spend $10 billion. We want to see the $10 billion spent equitably. We'd like to see this country continue its small business growth and continue to flourish. We want the country to be territorially intact. We want it to be an ally in this war on terror, not a safe haven for terrorists. And this is doable.

I would like very much at some point in time, of course, to have fewer U.S. troops. But there is no timetable to do this on. All timetables do is embolden the enemy. Look, I want the Iraqi government to work. And it's in our interests that we help it work, it seems like to me, and that's why I made the decision I made.

MR. LEHRER: And you're an optimist - you're optimistic about it all at this point?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I am. No question there's a - look, a year ago if we'd been having this discussion prior to the Samarra bombing, I'd have been - look what happened. And then the enemy responded. And by the way, it was al-Qaida that bombed the Samarra mosque. It was al-Qaida that said, we're losing; democracy is something we can't stand, so let us kill innocent lives and bomb a holy site in order to try to provoke sectarian violence. And they were successful. This guy, Zarqawi, did a good job.

It's important for the American people to understand it is al-Qaida that is doing a lot of these spectacular bombings. Why? Because they want a safe haven. They still have ambitions about hurting America. The very same guys - type of guys that flew those airplanes on September 11th are still the ones that are battling against a young democracy in Iraq. And we've got to defeat them, we got to defeat them there. And what changed in 2005 was this level of - and 2006, was this level of sectarian violence that you have accurately described. And the decision I had to make was, does it make sense to help the Iraqis with additional U.S. forces go in and secure those neighborhoods and not only drive them out, drive the insurgents out, but to have enough troops to hold them, and so that the politics and the reconstruction could go forward. And I spent a lot of time thinking about it, Jim, obviously. You mentioned five weeks. This is what presidents do; they take time, they listen. I listened to a lot of folks, a lot of good, decent folks, and came up with this answer as the best way to succeed. And my only call to Congress is that if you've got a better way to succeed, step up and explain it. I fully understand your skepticism, I say to them, but if you share with me the concern that failure's not an option, then what is - what's your - what's your prescription for success? And I think they owe that explanation to the American people.

 

- George W. Bush, Interview with Jim Lehrer, PBS Newshour, January 16, 2007

source:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/jan-june07/bush_01-16.html

Copyright ©1996-2006 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions


WALLACE: Let's start with the president's speech this week in which he said that U.S. forces in Iraq — and let's put it up on the screen — are "engaged in a struggle that will determine" — his word — "determine the direction of the global War on Terror and our safety here at home."

If you and the president really believe that, why not send even more troops into Iraq? And why depend on the Iraqi army and government, which have failed us again and again? Why not say, "This is a U.S. war, and we will do whatever it takes to win"?

CHENEY: Well, in effect, we have said that. And we are putting in the force we think is what's required to do the job. It's based on the best military advice we can get.

It can't be just a U.S. show, in the sense that ultimately the Iraqis are going to have to be responsible for defending Iraq, for governing themselves. That's always been our ultimate objective, and that hasn't changed.

But it's clear, based on recent developments, that they need help, that we can provide that help by putting additional forces in for the foreseeable future, and work in conjunction with the Iraqis.

The Iraqis will be there, too, right alongside us. This is not just an all-U.S. show. It's always been a question of trying to balance what's the right amount of American force and American leadership with the question of handing over authority and responsibility and transitioning to the Iraqis.

We're still very much engaged in that process. We've clearly made a judgment here, both the Iraqis have and the United States, that we need to do more to get a handle on the situation in Baghdad.

WALLACE: But to repeat my opening question, ultimately, will the U.S. do whatever it takes to win?

CHENEY: I believe we will.

I think that if you look at the conflict that's involved here and remember that Iraq is just part of the larger war — it is, in fact, a global war that stretches from Pakistan all the way around to North Africa. We've been engaged in Pakistan. We've been engaged in Afghanistan. We clearly are working closely with the Saudis, with the Gulf states, with the Egyptians.

That we have gone in and, aggressively, since 9/11, gone after state sponsors of terror, gone after safe havens where terrorists trained and equipped and planned and operated to strike the United States.

And we've got people now like Karzai in Afghanistan and Musharraf in Pakistan who are great allies, who put their lives on the line every single day that they go to work — assassination attempts on their lives.

And for us to succeed in all of those other areas, those people have got to have confidence in the United States, that they can count on us. If the United States doesn't have the stomach to finish the job in Iraq, we put at risk what we've done in all of those other locations out there.

Remember what bin Laden's strategy is. He doesn't think he can beat us in the stand-up fight. He thinks he can force us to quit. He believes that, after Lebanon in '83 and Somalia in '93, that the United States doesn't have the stomach for a long war.

And Iraq is the current central battlefield in that war, and we must win there. It's absolutely essential that we win there, and we will win there.

WALLACE: Over the last 46 months, the president and you have repeatedly said that you are on the path to victory, sometimes proposing exactly the opposite policy of what the president did this week. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight.

BUSH: Not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq.

BUSH: Will we be nimble enough? You know, will we be able to deal with the circumstances on the ground? And the answer is, yes, we will.

BUSH: Absolutely we're winning.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, why should we believe that, this time, you've got it right?

CHENEY: Well, I think if you look at what's transpired in Iraq, Chris, we have, in fact, made enormous progress.

Remember where we were four years ago: Saddam Hussein was in power, a guy who'd started two wars, who had produced and used weapons of mass destruction, violated 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions, prime sponsor of terror, paying the families of suicide bombers.

Saddam has been brought to justice. He's dead. He was executed, as we all know, here a few weeks ago. His government is gone.

There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a new constitution. There's a new government that's been in place now for all of nine months. A lot of people are eager to go out and write them off now. I think it's far too soon.

The fact is we've come a long way from where we started in Iraq. We still have a lot to do. It's been tougher and taken longer than we thought it would. One of the things...

WALLACE: But the fact is, some of these policies that you've proposed, that we talked about there, haven't worked. Why should we believe this policy will?

CHENEY: One of the things that, in fact, transpired that's changed the circumstances over there was the successful strategies that Zarqawi pursued. We went up, until the spring of '06, the Shia sat back and did not respond to the attacks on them. They sat there and took it. But after they got hit at the Golden Dome in Samarra, that precipitated the sectarian violence that we're seeing now.

We've got to get a handle on that in order to be able to succeed. We do have to change and adjust and adapt our tactics if we're going to succeed from a strategic standpoint. But that's what we're doing.

Now, no war ever goes smoothly all the way. Lots of times you have to make adjustments, and that's what we're doing here.

WALLACE: Throughout this war, the president has said that he listens to the generals on the ground and he gives them what they want.

But in November, General Abizaid, the commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, spoke before the Senate committee and said that, after meeting with every divisional commander, that sending more troops into Iraq would prevent the Iraqis from taking on the responsibility they should take. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID: General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, "In your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq?" And they all said no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, why did you and the president decide to overrule the commanders?

CHENEY: Well, I don't think we've overruled the commanders. The fact is the plan we've got here now has been embraced by Abizaid, by General Casey, by...

WALLACE: But how do you explain what he said right then, less than two months ago?

CHENEY: Well, it was two months ago.

We've, in fact, looked very carefully at the situation, and we have a plan now that has, in fact, been endorsed by the generals, including Fox Fallon, who's the new CENTCOM commander who's about to replace General Abizaid, and Bob Gates, who's the new secretary of defense.

Part of the debate has been, Chris, over this question of how much emphasis you put on the priority of transitioning to Iraqi control and how much you put on the question of using U.S. forces to deal with the security situation. And there's a balance to be struck there.

And the old balance basically, in the past, placed the emphasis on transition to the Iraqis. But we've made the decision and came to the conclusion that, until we got a handle on the security situation in Baghdad, the Iraqis weren't going to be able to make the progress they need to make on the economic front, on the political front and so forth.

And so, the conclusion is that, with the plan that we put in place now, that we're going to place a greater emphasis upon going after the security problem in Baghdad, that that has to come first. Political reconciliation is important, economic progress is important, but that we've got to get a handle on the security situation in Baghdad. That means more Iraqi forces; that means more U.S. forces.

WALLACE: Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, I think it's fair to say, has disappointed us over and over again. Let's take a look at the record.

In mid-October, he demanded that the U.S. military free an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr who was suspected of leading a death squad. On October 31st, he made the U.S. end a blockade of Sadr City, where we were searching for a missing U.S. soldier. On December 30th, he ignored our calls to delay the execution of Saddam Hussein, leading to an event the president says was right below Abu Ghraib as an embarrassment for our country.

Question: How direct has the president been with Maliki that he can't fail us again?

CHENEY: Well, we've been very direct with him. And I think Maliki and his government understand very well that they, in fact, need to step up and take responsibility; that we need to have new rules of engagement, that there will not be any political interference, if you will, phone calls from government officials that interfere with the legitimate military activities of the security forces...

WALLACE: Let me ask you a specific question about that. If U.S. forces want to go into Sadr City and take on Muqtada al-Sadr, can you pledge to the American people we'll do that regardless of what Maliki says?

CHENEY: I believe we'll be able to do whatever we need to do in order to get a handle on the security situation there, and Prime Minister Maliki will be directly involved in it.

This is just as much his program as it is ours. He's the one, ultimately, who has to perform, in terms of the capabilities of Iraqi forces.

So I think we do have the right understanding. Time will tell. We'll have to wait and see what happens here.

But I do believe that, based on the conversations we've had with Prime Minister Maliki and with his senior people, direct conversations between the president and Prime Minister Maliki, commitments that we've made to him and that he's made to us, that, in fact, we do have an understanding that will allow us to go forward and get the job done.

WALLACE: The question a lot of people ask is, "Or else?" In other words, the Iraq Study Group said if Maliki didn't live up to his promises, we would begin to cut aid, support troops. What do we do if he doesn't live up to his promises? Is there an "or else"?

And specifically, because there's all this talk about, "Well, it's a democracy," would the U.S. consider backing another Iraqi?

CHENEY: I'm not going to get into that, Chris. We've got a good plan. We're just now beginning the execution of the plan. Why don't we get together in a couple of months and see how it worked.

WALLACE: Well, that's an invitation that I'll accept.

CHENEY: All right.

WALLACE: But the question is, is there anyone else?

CHENEY: I'm not going to go beyond what I've said. We're focused on making this plan work.

WALLACE: But it's not an open-ended commitment.

CHENEY: We're focused on making this plan work.

WALLACE: Does Congress have any control over how you and the president conduct this war?

CHENEY: Well, Congress certainly has a significant role to play here. They have clearly been instrumental and a major player, in terms of appropriating the funds to support the force and the activities in the global conflict as well as our operations in Iraq.

We talk to the Congress a lot. We consulted with over 120 members of Congress before the president made his pronouncement.

We agreed to set up an advisory group, if you will, that draws on the chairman and ranking members of the key committees of the House and Senate, as we go forward.

So Congress clearly has a role to play. It's an important...

WALLACE: But that's a consultative role. The question I'm asking...

CHENEY: It is a consultative role.

WALLACE: ... though, is, if they want to stop it, can they?

CHENEY: The president is the commander in chief. He's the one who has to make these tough decisions. He's the guy who's got to decide how to use the force and where to deploy the force.

And the Congress, obviously, has to support the effort through the power of the purse. So they've got a role to play, and we certainly recognize that.

But you also — you cannot run a war by committee, you know. The Constitution is very clear that the president is, in fact, under Article 2, the commander in chief.

WALLACE: So let me ask you a couple of specific questions. If Congress passes a resolution opposing increasing the troops in Iraq, will that stop you?

CHENEY: It would be a sense of the Congress' resolution, and we're interested in it and what Congress has to say about it. But it would not affect the president's ability to carry out his policy.

WALLACE: What do you say to members of Congress who may try to block your efforts, your policy in Iraq? Would they be, in effect, undercutting the troops?

CHENEY: Well, I think they would be.

But I think, more than that, Congress clearly has every right to express their opinion and to agree or disagree with administration policy, and they will. They haven't had any qualms at all about that. But there's a new element here, I think, Chris, and that is to say, the Democrats have now taken control of the House and the Senate. It's not enough for them to be critics anymore.

We have these meetings with members of Congress, and they all agree we can't fail; the consequences of failure would be too great. But then they end up critical of what we're trying to do, advocating withdrawal or so-called redeployment of force, but they have absolutely nothing to offer in its place.

I have yet to hear a coherent policy out of the Democratic side, with respect to an alternative to what the president's proposed in terms of going forward. They basically, if we were to follow their guidance — the comments, for example, that a lot of them made during the last campaign about withdrawing U.S. forces — we simply go back and revalidate the strategy that Osama bin Laden has been following from day one, that if you kill enough Americans, you can force them to quit, that we don't have the stomach for the fight. That's not an answer.

If, in fact, this is as critical as we all believe it is, then, if the Democrats don't like what we're proposing, it seems to me they have an obligation to put forward their proposal. And so far we haven't seen it.

WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, it's not just Democrats, though, who oppose the plan. This week there were a number of leading Senate Republicans who also came out against it. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. NORM COLEMAN, R-MINN.: I'm not prepared, at this time, to support that.

SEN. DAVID VITTER, R-LA.: Too little, maybe too late.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, R-NEB.: The most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WALLACE: Aren't you losing a lot of support in your own caucus?

CHENEY: Well, I don't think Chuck Hagel has been with us for a long time.

The most dangerous blunder here would be if, in fact, we took all of that effort that's gone in to fighting the global war on terror and the great work that we have done in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and across the globe out there and saw it dissipated because the United States now decides that Iraq is too tough and we're going to pack it in and go home. And we leave high and dry those millions of people in their part of the world that have signed on in support of the U.S. or supported governments that are allied with the U.S. in this global conflict.

This is an existential conflict. It is the kind of conflict that's going to drive our policy and our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years.

We have to prevail, and we have to have the stomach for the fight, long term. And for us to do what Chuck Hagel, for example, suggests or to buy into that kind of analysis — it's not really analysis; it's just criticism — strikes me as absolutely the wrong thing to do.

These are tough decisions, but the president's made it. It's a good decision. It's a good policy. We think, on reflection, it's the best way for us to move forward to achieve our objectives...

WALLACE: I want to ask you one more question about this, and then we'll talk about other issues.

Iraq was a big issue in the November election. I want you to take a look at some numbers from the election. According to the National Exit Poll, 67 percent said the war was either very or extremely important to their vote, and only 17 percent supported sending in more troops.

By taking the policy you have, haven't you, Mr. Vice President, ignored the express will of the American people in the November election?

CHENEY: Well, Chris, this president, and I don't think any president worth his salt, can afford to make decisions of this magnitude according to the polls. The polls change day by day...

WALLACE: Well, this was an election, sir.

CHENEY: Polls change day by day, week by week. I think the vast majority of Americans want the right outcome in Iraq. The challenge for us is to be able to provide that. But you cannot simply stick your finger up in the wind and say, "Gee, public opinion's against; we'd better quit."

That is part and parcel of the underlying fundamental strategy that our adversaries believe afflicts the United States. They are convinced that the current debate in the Congress, that the election campaign last fall, all of that, is evidence that they're right when they say the United States doesn't have the stomach for the fight in this long war against terror.

They believe it. They look at past evidence of it: in Lebanon in '83 and Somalia in '93, Vietnam before that. They're convinced that the United States will, in fact, pack it in and go home if they just kill enough of us. They can't beat us in a stand-up fight, but they think they can break our will.

And if we have a president who looks at the polls and sees the polls are going south and concludes, "Oh, my goodness, we have to quit," all it will do is validate the Al Qaeda view of the world.

It's exactly the wrong thing to do. This president does not make policy based on public opinion polls; he should not. It's absolutely essential here that we get it right.

 

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace, January 14, 2007

source:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,243632,00.html

© 2007 FOX News Network, LLC


On Wednesday night, I addressed the Nation from the White House to lay out a new strategy that will help Iraq's democratic government succeed.

America's new strategy comes after a difficult year in Iraq. In 2006, the terrorists and insurgents fought to reverse the extraordinary democratic gains the Iraqis have made. In February, the extremists bombed a holy Shia mosque in a deliberate effort to provoke reprisals that would set off a sectarian conflict. They succeeded, and the ongoing sectarian violence, especially in Baghdad, is making all other progress difficult. 

Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. Their leaders understand this, and they are stepping forward to do it. But they need our help, and it is in our interests to provide that help. The changes in our strategy will help the Iraqis in four main areas:

First, we will help the Iraqis execute their aggressive plan to secure their capital. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of Baghdad. The new plan to secure Baghdad fixes the problems that prevented previous operations from succeeding. This time, there will be adequate Iraqi and U.S. forces to hold the areas that have been cleared, including more Iraqi forces and five additional brigades of American troops committed to Baghdad. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter neighborhoods that are home to those fueling sectarian violence. Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference with security operations will not be tolerated.

Second, America will step up the fight against al Qaeda in its home base in Iraq -- Anbar province. Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists, so I've given orders to increase American forces in Anbar province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to increase the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan, and we will not allow them to reestablish it in Iraq.

Third, America will hold the Iraqi government to benchmarks it has announced. These include taking responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November, passing legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis, and spending $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction projects that will create new jobs. These are strong commitments. And the Iraqi government knows that it must meet them, or lose the support of the Iraqi and the American people.

Fourth, America will expand our military and diplomatic efforts to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. We will address the problem of Iran and Syria allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. We will encourage countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states to increase their economic assistance to Iraq. Secretary Rice has gone to the region to continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.

My national security team is now making our case on Capitol Hill. We recognize that many members of Congress are skeptical. Some say our approach is really just more troops for the same strategy. In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.

Others worry that we are pursuing a purely military solution that makes a political solution less likely. In fact, the sectarian violence is the main obstacle to a political solution, and the best way to help the Iraqis reach this solution is to help them put down this violence.

Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.

Whatever our differences on strategy and tactics, we all have a duty to ensure that our troops have what they need to succeed. Thousands of young men and women are preparing to join an important mission that will in large part determine the outcome in Iraq. Our brave troops should not have to wonder if their leaders in Washington will give them what they need. I urge members of Congress to fulfill their responsibilities, make their views known, and to always support our men and women in harm's way.

 

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, January 13, 2007

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070113-2.html


SEC. RICE: Good morning. Today Secretary Gates and I will head to Capitol Hill to discuss with the Congress the new strategy for Iraq that President Bush outlined last night.

All Americans know that the stakes in Iraq are enormous, and we all share the belief that the situation is currently unacceptable. On this we are united.

The president has outlined a strategy that relies on three main points. First, and most importantly, the Iraqis have devised their own strategy -- political, economic and military -- and our efforts will support theirs. Among Americans and Iraqis, there is no confusion over one basic fact: It is the Iraqis who are responsible for what kind of country Iraq will be; it is they who must decide whether Iraq will be characterized by national unity or sectarian conflict. The president has conveyed to the Iraqi leadership that we will support their good decisions, but that Americans' patience is limited.

Second, we will further decentralize and diversify our civilian presence in Iraq to better assist the Iraqi people. Iraq has a federal government. We must, therefore, get our civilians out of the embassy, out of the Green Zone, and into the field across Iraq to support promising local leaders and promising local structures. This will enhance and diversify our chances of success in Iraq. The mechanism to accomplish this is the provincial reconstruction team or PRT. The logic behind PRTs is simple: Success in Iraq relies on more than military efforts; it requires robust political and economic progress. Our military operations must be fully supported and integrated with our civilian and diplomatic efforts across the entire U.S. government to help Iraqis clear, hold, and build throughout all of Iraq.

We in the State Department fully understand our role in this mission, and we are prepared to play it. We are ready to strengthen, indeed, to surge our civilian efforts. We plan to expand our PRTs in Iraq from 10 to at least 18. In Baghdad, we will go from one PRT to six; and in Anbar province, from one to three, because local leaders are taking encouraging steps there to confront violent extremists and to build hope for their people.

To oversee our economic support for the Iraqi people and to ensure that it is closely integrated with our political assistance and our security strategy, I am pleased to announce today that I am appointing Ambassador Tim Carney to the new position of coordinator for Iraq transitional assistance. Ambassador Carney was formerly our ambassador to Haiti. He has enormous experience in post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction and development. He will be based in Baghdad, where he will coordinate and work closely with his Iraqi counterparts.

Finally, we are anchoring our efforts in Iraq within a regional diplomatic strategy, as the Iraq Study Group recommended. We're supporting The Iraqi government in crafting an international compact with the international community, based on mutual obligations. And we're working with Turkey and Iraq on concerns about terrorism from the Kurdish Workers Party.

Iraq is central to the future of the Middle East. The security of this region is an enduring vital interest for the United States, and our continued leadership in this part of the world will contribute greatly to its stability and success.

Our regional diplomacy is based on the substantially changed realities in the Middle East. Historic change is unfolding in the region, unleashing old grievances, new anxieties and some violence. But it is also revealing a promising new strategic realignment in the Middle East.

This is the same alignment that we see in Iraq. On one side are the many reformers and responsible leaders who seek to advance their interests peacefully, politically and diplomatically. On the other side are extremists of every sect and ethnicity, who use violence to spread chaos, to undermine democratic government, and to impose agendas of hate and intolerance.

Our most urgent diplomatic goal is to empower reformers and responsible leaders across the region, and to confront extremists. The proper partners in our regional diplomacy are those who share these goals: our allies, Israel and Turkey, of course, but democratic reformers and leaders in places like Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq, and the responsible governments of the Gulf states, plus Egypt and Jordan, or the GCC plus two.

Tomorrow I leave for the Middle East to continue consultations with our partners.

Two governments have unfortunately chosen to align themselves with the forces of extremism, both in Iraq and across the Middle East.

One is Syria. Despite many appeals, including from Syria's fellow Arab states, the leaders in Damascus continue to support terrorism and to destabilize Iraq and their neighbors. The problem here is not a lack of engagement with Syria, but a lack of action by Syria.

Iran is the other. If the government in Tehran wants to help stabilize the region, as it now claims, then it should end its support for violent extremists who destroy the aspirations of innocent Lebanese, Palestinians and Iraqis, and it should end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

I repeat an offer that I've made several times today: If Iran suspends its uranium enrichment, which is an international demand, not just an American one, then the United States is prepared to reverse 27 years of policy, and I will meet with my Iranian counterpart any time, anywhere. Thus we would have the possibility to discuss every facet of our country's relations. Until then, the international community must continue to hold the Iranian government accountable.

Syria and Iran should end their destabilizing behavior in the region. They cannot be paid to do so. That would only embolden our enemies and demoralize our friends, both in Iraq and across the region, all of whom are watching to see whether America has the will to keep its commitments. The United States will defend its interests and those of our friends and allies in this vital region.

And now I'm happy to turn the podium over to Secretary Gates, who will talk about the military aspects of the plan.

SEC. GATES: Thank you, Secretary Rice.

This afternoon, General Pace and I will appear before the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the military aspects of the Iraq Study -- Strategy announced by the president last night. Tomorrow we will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The security plan is designed to have Iraqi forces lead a campaign with our forces in support to protect the population of Baghdad from intimidation and violence instigated by Sunni and Shi'a extremist groups and to enable the Iraqi government to take the difficult steps necessary to address that nation's underlying issues. This means, above all, strengthening those in Iraq who are prepared to address its problems peacefully against those who seek only violence, death and chaos.

The term "surge" has been used in relation to increasing U.S. troop levels, and an increase certainly will take place. But what is really going on and what is going to take place is a surge across all lines of operations: military and nonmilitary, Iraqi and coalition. The president's plan has Iraqis in the lead and seeks a better balance of U.S. military and nonmilitary efforts than was the case in the past. We cannot succeed in Iraq without the important nonmilitary elements Secretary Rice just mentioned.

The increase in military forces will be phased in. It will not unfold overnight. There will be no D-Day. It won't look like the Gulf War. The timetable for the introduction of additional U.S. forces will provide ample opportunity early on and before many of the additional U.S. troops actually arrive in Iraq to evaluate the progress of this endeavor and whether the Iraqis are fulfilling their commitments to us.

This updated plan builds on the lessons and experiences of the past. It places new emphasis on and adds new resources to the holding and building part of the clear, hold and build strategy.

At this pivotal moment, the credibility of the United States is on the line in Iraq. Governments in the region, both friends and adversaries, are watching what we do and will draw their own conclusions about our resolve and the steadfastness of our commitments.

Whatever one's views on how we got to this point in Iraq, there is widespread agreement that failure there would be a calamity that would haunt our nation in the future and in the region. The violence in Iraq, if unchecked, could spread outside its borders and draw other states into a regional conflagration. In addition, one would see an emboldened and strengthened Iran, a safe haven and base of operations for jihadist networks in the heart of the Middle East, a humiliating defeat in the overall campaign against violent extremism worldwide and an undermining of the credibility of the United States. Given what is at stake, failure in Iraq is not an option.

I would like to conclude my remarks with two announcements.

First, the president announced last night that he would strengthen our military for the long war against terrorism by authorizing an increase in the overall strength of the Army and the Marine Corps. I am recommending to him a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years -- 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines. The emphasis will be on increasing combat capability. This increase will be accomplished in two ways.

First, we will propose to make permanent the temporary increase of 30,000 for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps. Then we propose to build up from that base in annual increments of 7,000 troops a year for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps until the Marine Corps reaches a level of 202,000, and the Army would be at 547,000.

We should recognize that while it may take some time for these new troops to become available for deployment, it is important that our men and women in uniform know that additional manpower and resources are on the way.

Second, for several months, the Department of Defense has been assessing whether we have the right policies to govern how we manage and deploy members of the Reserves, the National Guard, and our active component units. Based on this assessment and the recommendations of our military leadership, I am making the following changes in department policy.

First, the mobilization of ground reserve forces going forward will be managed on a unit instead of an individual basis. This change will allow us to achieve greater unit cohesion and predictability in how reserve units train and deploy.

Second, from this moment forward, from this point forward, members of the reserves who will be involuntarily mobilized for a maximum of one year at a time, in contrast to the current practice of 16 to 24 months.

Third, the planning objective for Guard and reserve units will remain one year of being mobilized, followed by five years demobilized. However, today's global demands will require a number of selected Guard and reserve units to be remobilized sooner than this standard. Our intention is that such exceptions be temporary. The goal for the active force rotation cycle remains one year deployed for every two years at home station. Today, most active units are receiving only one year at home station before deploying again. Mobilizing select Guard and reserve units before this five-year period is complete will allow us to move closer to relieving the stress on the total force.

Fourth, I'm directing the establishment of a new program to compensate individuals in both the active and reserve components who are required to mobilize or deploy early or extend beyond the established rotation policy goals.

Fifth, I am also directing that all commands and units review how they administer the hardship waiver program to ensure that they are properly taking into account exceptional circumstances facing military families of deployed service members.

It is important to note that these policy changes have been under discussion for some time within the Department of Defense and would be needed independently of the president's announcement on Iraq last night. And there will be a handout afterward on the details of these changes, since they are a little complicated.

Finally, I'm pleased to report that all active branches of the United States military exceeded their recruiting goals for the month of December, with particularly strong showings by the Army and the Marine Corps. Our nation is truly blessed that so many talented and patriotic young people have stepped forward to defend our nation, and that so many service men and women have chosen to continue to serve.

Thank you. And we'll be happy to take your questions.

Q Secretary Gates, how long do you expect to maintain the surge in Iraq? And what happens if the Iraqis do not live up to their commitments?

SEC. GATES: Well, as I indicated, we're going to know pretty early on whether the Iraqis are meeting their military commitments in terms of being able to go into all neighborhoods, in terms of the Iraqis being in the lead in carrying out the leadership in the fighting, and for there not to be political interference in the military operations that are going forward. As I say, this is going to unfold over a period of time, and so I think that, as I indicated in my remarks, before very many American soldiers have been sent to Iraq, we'll have a pretty good early indications of their performance.

We'll have to see in terms of the length of time. It's really hard to say at this point. It's viewed as a temporary surge. But I think no one has a really clear idea of how long that might be.

Q Can you define what success will be then, sir? I mean, if you don't know how long it will be -- I know one of the things over the last few months, the president was saying, "We're winning in Iraq, we're winning in Iraq." Suddenly, he didn't think we were. So how do you define success, how do you know if it's not working? Certainly there will be a period where it's bloodier, more violent. But at what point do you really know it's working?

SEC. GATES: Well, let me take a crack at it and then invite Condi to comment.

I think that what we will see over time is a lessening of violence in Baghdad. If the strategy is successful, over time we will see a lessening of violence in Baghdad. We're going to be, to a certain extent, the prisoners of anyone who wants to strap on a bomb and blow themselves up. But if -- but if the environment in Baghdad improves to the point where the political process can go forward, where the reconciliation process can go forward, where an oil law can be passed for the distribution of the revenues from the oil sales, where provincial elections can go forward, and where the government is actually beginning to make its writ felt outside Baghdad, and we see the government of Iraq beginning to operate more effectively, I think all of these things -- as the president said last night, and as I suggested this morning, it isn't going to be like anything we've experienced before in terms of when we'll know whether or not we're being successful, it's going to take a little time. And we will probably have a better view a couple of months from now in terms of whether we are making headway in terms of getting better control of Baghdad, with the Iraqis in the lead and with the Iraqis beginning to make better progress on the reconciliation process.

But let me ask Secretary Rice --

SEC. RICE: Well, I would underscore the point about political reconciliation. I do think the Iraqis obviously have to pass an oil law. They have to follow through on the promises that they've made to their own people about the inclusiveness of the political process.

I think as to -- I'd make one point about Baghdad and one point about the rest of the country. What has really happened in Baghdad -- and Prime Minister Maliki said this to the president -- is that the Iraqi people have lost confidence in the ability of their government to defend them in their capital, to protect them in their capital. And in fact, there are some, because of the sectarian overtones, who wonder if in fact their government is willing to protect them if they come from one sect or another. And I think what the Iraqi government is trying to do, and needs to do, is to reestablish civil order in the sense that they are, in fact, willing to and capable of protecting all Iraqis who live in Baghdad. That means the kinds of activities that take place in these neighborhoods wouldn't be tolerated, and they would, in fact, go after some of the violent people on either side who are causing the problems. And I think that will be a measure of how well they are doing.

In the provinces -- it's also important to recognize that not everything -- as important as Baghdad is, not everything rests on Baghdad. One reason that we're diversifying and decentralizing into the provinces and the localities is that you want to strengthen the governance from the bottom up as well. And we've learned that it is somewhat more effective to be able to deliver governance and economic development and reconstruction at a more local level. And I think it's starting to have an effect. We've seen it work in Mosul, we've seen it work in Tall Afar. And as the secretary said -- Bob said, in Anbar, we're beginning to get some signs that the tribal sheikhs there want to fight the violent extremists. And we've been in Anbar for a while now working politically.

So, I think you should think of what the government needs to show in Baghdad, but also the building of governance structures outside of the country.

Q Secretary Rice, can I ask you a more fundamental question -- and a question for Secretary Gates as well.

SEC. GATES: He doesn't need to find something -- (off mike) -- (laughter) --

Q As you look at what's happened in Iraq, even recently, I mean the spectacle of the execution of Saddam Hussein, the trouble in the police ranks, and there's other examples, why should the American people believe at this point that the Iraqis want reconciliation and a stable democratic government as much as the United States wants it for them?

And for Secretary Gates I have a a tactical question. Is the United States military and/or the Iraqi government prepared now to arrest or kill Muqtada al-Sadr as part of this new increase?

SEC. RICE: David, on the first point, obviously this is a country that has had years and years of tragedy in which certain people were oppressed by other people, and it's perhaps not surprising that the passions and the anger runs pretty deep, and sometimes it expresses itself in ways that I think are not appropriate, but it expresses itself. The Saddam trial was extremely unfortunate -- the Saddam hanging was extremely unfortunate. But of course, we have to keep in mind too the victims and remember them first. But these passions do get expressed.

But as to whether the Iraqi people want to live in peace, I think that 12-1/2 million of them voted, against a lot of terrorist threats, because they wanted a single Iraq. I think that you have to look at the way that their leaders are trying to work together. One of the things that's interesting about this national oil law, to which they are close, is that that's a very good sign of overcoming sectarian differences for a larger political purpose.

And it's not as if they're not sacrificing for this unified Iraq. Tariq al-Hashimi, who is the leading Sunni leader, has lost two brothers and a sister, not actually to sectarianism, but to insurgents who want him -- do not want Sunnis to be a part of the process, and yet he remains a part of the process.

So I think both at the level of the population and at the level of the political class, you have people who are intent on staying together in one Iraq, trying to overcome their differences with these fragile new political institutions, and who are being buffeted and challenged in that by violent people on the extremes who are using sectarian purpose to kill innocent Iraqis.

And what the Iraqi government has to do is to demonstrate firmly that it is fully committed to the protection of all Iraqis, it is fully committed to the punishment of any Iraqi who is engaged in killing innocents. And I think then you will begin to see more room for the kind of national reconciliation process that's been going on but, I think, has frankly been undermined by the sectarian violence since February of '06.

SEC. GATES: I think a source of frustration for both Iraqi and American forces in the past has been political interference during clearing operations. And there are a number of instances that we've heard about of someone being detained and then a call being placed from some office in the government and all of a sudden that person is released because of political influence.

I think one of the most important commitments that the prime minister has made is that in this offensive, the military will have the authority to go after all law breakers. There are no exceptions. I'm not going to hang specific targets on specific people, but all law breakers are susceptible to being detained in this -- or taken care of in this campaign.

Q Sir, why are you vague on the treatment of al-Sadr? Because he has a long history here in this conflict as being on the most-wanted list of the United States; then the Iraqis persuaded the U.S. not to arrest him; he leads the Mahdi Army. I mean, this is the bad guy that the United States makes clear is helping to bring down this government, so why not commit to what our posture is with regard to him now?

SEC. GATES: What I will say is that all parts of Baghdad are going to be involved in this campaign, including Sadr City. (Cross talk.) (Laughter.)

SEC. RICE: Please, ask the chairman a question.

Q Thank you. We have heard repeatedly over the past year -- James Rosen with Fox News. We have heard repeatedly over the past year and President Bush was fairly explicit about it last night, that Iran has been supplying ordnance that has been killing American troops. If this is so, why are we not matching Iranian force with force of our own? And why are we content to continue issuing statements of displeasure? What do we think that's going to accomplish? And have you made any recommendations along these lines?

GEN. PACE: What we've been doing and we'll continue to do is to track the networks of individuals regardless of their nationality inside of Iraq that are providing weapons that are designed to kill our troops. I think it's instructive that in the last couple of weeks two of those raids that we conduct to go after these folks that are providing these kinds of weapons, two of those raids had policed Iranians. So it is clear that the Iranians are complicit in providing weapons, and it's also clear that we will all we need to do to defend our troops in Iraq by going after the entire network regardless of where those people come from.

Q Are you going after them in Iran? Why not go to the source?

GEN. PACE: We can take care of the security for our troops by doing the business we need to do inside of Iraq, and there are other methods, especially the kind that Secretary Rice has outlined, to deal with government-to-government relationships with Iran. But with regard to those who are physically present trying to do harm to our troops, regardless of nationality, we will go after them and defend ourselves.

Q One last attempt at this, let me take one last different way. Has anyone in the military recommended operations inside Iran?

GEN. PACE: No.

Q Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask you a question as long as he's at the podium.

SEC. RICE: Why don't you go ahead while he's still at the podium.

Q Okay. General Pace, can you talk about the numbers? The president, Secretary Gates, everyone has said this is the most important operation; you have to succeed in this. So why just 20,000 troops? The studies from Rand show a much greater number would probably be needed. Why just 20,000, and is it because we don't really have more troops to go in there? And were there recommendations for much larger numbers of troops within the Joint Staff?

GEN. PACE: First of all, this is not a reinvasion of Iraq. This is looking at the problem areas, specifically Baghdad and Al Anbar, to determine what we can do to help the Iraqi government to protect their own people. In doing the military analysis of that, let's take Baghdad, for example, we looked at the Iraqi plan, which is a commander -- two divisions commanders, nine districts, each of which would have an Iraqi brigade at his lead, and then our ability to reinforce each of those brigades with a battalion of our own and also provide additional advisers inside those battalions.

When you then take a look at the activities that they must conduct -- the patrolling, the checkpoints, the quick reaction forces, the going door to door to see the people and let them know that there is a security presence -- when you look at those kinds of activities and you do what we call troop-to-task analysis, you end up needing more forces in Baghdad than are currently there, preferably Iraqi forces. And the Iraqis are going to provide additional forces. But when you look at capacity, there are still unique capabilities that the U.S. armed forces have that are useful to assisting the Iraqi government, and that's how our commanders on the ground did the analysis. And that's why General Casey and his commanders came forward and asked for additional forces.

They asked for additional forces for Baghdad and they asked for additional forces for Al Anbar. In fact, we have put into the pipeline to go more forces than their analysis on the ground indicated they would need initially to ensure that, as the enemy makes decisions and decides and what they're going to do, that we have the capacity available to our commanders on the ground to get the job done.

Q (Off mike) -- that we're so stretched?

GEN. PACE: Being stretched is part of the equation, but it does not impact the recommendation about how many troops are needed. We have sufficient capacity inside the U.S. armed forces to be able to do this plus-up. But we should not -- we must be mindful of the fact that our active forces have been rotating in and out at about one year in, one year out, and our Guard and Reserve forces have been going in at about one year and coming out as -- for about five.

The total force mix of the United States that the secretary talked about is available to solve this problem in Iraq and also to handle any other problems. So it very much is on our mind as far as how we resource this plus-up, but it had nothing to do with the division -- with the decision the commanders on the ground as far as how many troops were needed.

They tell us here in Washington how many they need. And once that is accepted as the requirement, then we have the responsibility to find the proper mix of forces to go do that, and that's what General Schoomaker and the Army and that's what General Conway and the Marine Corps will be doing.

Q Secretary Gates --

Q Secretary Rice --

Q I'm sorry, go ahead.

Q Secretary Rice --

(Cross talk.)

Q Secretary Gates, is it clear, if the Iraqis -- if it appears that the Iraqis are not meeting the commitments they have made, will we withhold sending these troops on this phased-in process?

SEC. GATES: I think that if we get some indication that the Iraqis are not fulfilling their commitments, the way this is going to unfold -- we are going to have a number of opportunities to go back to the Iraqis and point out where they have failed to meet their commitments and to move forward.

I think that, frankly, based on the president's conversations and the conversations that our ambassador and General Casey have had not just with the prime minister but with President Talabani and with other leaders in the Iraqi government that there is a broad commitment in the Iraqi government across several different groups in the government to make this work. So I think our assumption going forward is that they every intention of making this work, of fulfilling their commitments.

And, frankly, you know, the notion that the Iraqis are standing by while we're doing the fighting is really not an accurate statement. In fact, one of our military folks told me the other day that now more than half of the casualties coming into U.S. military hospitals in Iraq are Iraqi military. So they are fighting, and as we saw in the streets of Baghdad just in the last couple of days, they are fighting.

So I think that -- our belief is they will fulfill these commitments. But if we see them falling short, we will make sure that they know that and how strongly we feel about it.

Q Does that -- Secretary Rice, there's been a great deal of emphasis on Maliki's government performing and whether or not there is too much pressure being put on him. If you would in all fairness respond to a Reuters wire that's just crossed -- comments that Reuters reports that was made in an open microphone between television interviews this morning -- it quotes you saying as, "I don't want to descend on the Maliki government and look like, you know, just sort of beat their brains out. The president was pretty tough last night, and we'll pretty tough today; give them a little time now to do something, a little breathing space." Are these accurate comments from Reuters? And is there a sense or a risk of being too hard on Maliki?

SEC. RICE: I don't think there's a sense of not being very tough about the commitments and the obligations that we expect.

And yes, it's an accurate quote. It was an open mike. But it was an accurate quote. And the point was, I was asked, "Are you going to go to Baghdad right away?" And I said that I thought it was important to have the Maliki government have a little time now to make its plan work.

After all, this is the Maliki government's plan. They came to the president with this plan in Amman. They said we need to put together a plan that will help us to deal with the problem that our population doesn't believe that we can secure them.

I believe that Bob's point about, you know, they're sitting on the sidelines is just not the right view.

However, they haven't performed in the past. And so the president is absolutely right, and we have all been saying to them, "You have to perform."

I do think now Prime Minister Maliki needs to work with his government, get his Baghdad commander in place, get his forces in place, get his reconstruction coordinator appointed. And then I fully expect at that time, probably in not very long, to go to Baghdad and to work with them. But I do think it's important to give them a little time to organize.

Q And when you say breathing space or a little time, do you have a certain sense -- a timetable? Is that months or --

SEC. RICE: No. No.

Q Was the --

SEC. RICE: They have to get organized right away, and they are. He announced a Baghdad commander. They're going to put this in place. I think their forces start to flow in on February 1st. So this is coming in very quick order.

But again, the question was, are you going to go immediately to Baghdad? And my point was that I think the -- we've made very clear what the expectations are of the Maliki government -- very clear both in public and in private what those expectations are. And now I expect the Maliki government is going to organize itself to carry out those obligations.

(Cross talk.)

Q (Inaudible) -- for just a second and get a little bit back into what James was talking about. The president's language last night was rather muscular when he talked about "seek and destroy" these networks. Does that extend beyond the kinds of operations that General Pace -- if you both could answer this, actually -- beyond the kinds of operations that General Pace was talking about? Was the raid this morning, for instance, part of that? Will we see more of that in the coming days? Can you explain a little bit more about what he meant when he used that language last night?

SEC. RICE: Well, I think General Pace has spoken to what we think the necessity is and what it is we intend to do. We've made very clear to the Iranian government and the Syrian government, for that matter, that we don't expect them to continually engage in behavior that is destabilizing to the Iraqi government but also that endangers our troops, and that we will do what is necessary for force protection.

But we leave to those who deal with issues of force protection how these raids are going to be taken out (sic). I think you've got an indication of that in what has been happening, which is the networks are identified, they are identified through good intelligence, they are then acted upon. It is without regard to whoever is in them, whatever the nationality. And we're going to protect our troops.

Now, as to state-to-state relations, or the lack thereof, in 27 years, that's a different matter. And we've been very clear with the Iranians that through others and probably -- that they need to stop pursuing a nuclear weapon -- we have a policy on that -- that we have a Chapter VII resolution, and that we believe that puts Iran in a very unfavorable category of states, and therefore that people ought to be careful in how they deal with financial relations with the Iranians. And you'll continue to see those efforts, too.

But I think General Pace has spoken to what we think we need to do in Iraq.

Q Secretary Rice, could I ask you about the future shape and role of the international coalition in Iraq, and also the idea of a regional conference for Iraq?

SEC. RICE: Yeah. Well, as for the future shape in coalition, there continue to be coalition forces operating in Iraq. The South Koreans, the Japanese, others have re-upped their forces again to continue operating in Iraq. And there is a NATO training mission for officers in Iraq.

And so I think you'll continue to see that kind of international support.

Now, the International Compact for Iraq is a framework in which there can be real support for Iraq that is, in fact, a kind of conditional support. The Iraqis undertake to do certain obligations. We undertake, as an international community, to match those obligations with resources. Many of the states that, for instance, the Iraqis owed debt to have agreed to very favorable terms: 80 percent of debt reduction. We've agreed to 100 percent of debt reduction, and I think you'll see more of that.

Now, I'm going to the Middle East with the GCC because I feel very strongly that those states that are part of an alignment that understands that there are extremist forces that need to be resisted, need to be mobilized and rallied in support of this Iraqi government. The states, like Saudi Arabia and Jordan and others, have been helping with Sunni outreach. I'd hope that they will help with more.

But I think the International Compact is the right framework for now, because it is an international effort that is actually led by the Iraqis and the United Nations, which is really the proper way for Iraq to engage its neighbor.

Q And please, for anyone. Is there anything you could do for protection of foreign workers in Iraq, including Russians? Russia has a fair number of workers there.

GEN. PACE: Well, I think each country that has civilians there is responsible to provide security for their own folks. So if the Russians have folks there that they want to have doing certain activities, I'm sure that they've taken into account the kind of security they need to provide for them.

Q Secretary Gates?

STAFF: Last question.

Q Can you explain the practical effect of the mobilization changes you announced today? Does this wipe the slate clean for Guards members who have already gone to Iraq? And do you anticipate having to mobilize units that have already done stints there again?

SEC. GATES: Let me ask General Pace to answer that question.

GEN. PACE: There will be remobilization of forces, and that remobilization has been contemplated before the announcement of these additional forces, because we have a rotation base of active forces that we try to maintain one year overseas, two years home. And that rotation has gone to one year overseas, one year home.

On the Guard and Reserve side, we try to get one year mobilized and five years demobilized. It's really been more like a year-and-a- half to almost two years mobilized, and then -- so the secretary's comments not only allow us to remobilize forces that we need to assist in the total force effort that we've got going on in Iraq, but also significantly ensure that when we do remobilize -- or, for those who have not yet been mobilized, when we mobilize them -- that their time will be one year. From the time we've called them to active duty, they train up; they deploy, do their mission, come home, and demobilize -- all inside of one year, which is a significant planning factor for the folks who have been enormously effective and critical to the success of our overall mission. The Guard and Reserve have been wonderful in the way that they've performed their assignments.

Q But if the 24-month cumulative requirement that many Guard members have come close to meeting were met already, is that wiped clean now, and are we starting from ground zero in terms of eligibility of Guard members to be mobilized and deployed?

GEN. PACE: Inside the policy of one year mobilized and five years demobilized, that one year would have been part of the cumulative process. When you have your -- what we call "dwell time" at home, you're not mobilized. When you start again, you're starting again. We're not adding that to the previous.

So, I'm not sure I'm answering your question exactly accurately. But for any one mobilization, we are constrained not to keep anybody more than 24 months. For subsequent mobilization, we're constrained not to keep anybody more than 24 months. What we're committing to is that we will not keep anybody more than one year on a subsequent mobilization.

Q So, if you've already been mobilized for 18 months, and you've gone to Iraq for a tour and your unit gets mobilized, and you still have -- and you went to Iraq -- I'm sorry, this gets very complicated -- and you want to Iraq fewer than four years ago, you could be mobilized and have to go. Is that correct?

GEN. PACE: That's correct. But your time, as the secretary has indicated, will be no more than 12 months when you go the second time. Or, if you happen to be a new recruit and you go the first time, it will still be for 12 months.

- Press Conference with Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, and General Peter Pace, January 11, 2007

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=3863

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.,


Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefitted from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.

Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.

Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.

As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.

Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.

We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.

The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.

From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?

The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security. Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.

Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.

This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad -- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.

In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.

Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.

In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.

Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.

 

- George W. Bush, President's Address to the Nation, January 10, 2007

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070110-7.html


BAGHDAD — U.S. troops could pull back to Baghdad's outskirts in a matter of months if Iraqi forces step up security, the new commander of U.S. combat forces in Iraq said Sunday.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said it could be years before Iraqi forces can assume complete responsibility for the country's security. But a new security thrust in Baghdad could put Iraqi forces in the lead role by summer or fall, while U.S. troops provide support from outside the capital, he said.

"If you ask me where I want to be three to four months from now, I want (Iraqi security forces) operating in Baghdad and we are on the outskirts of Baghdad, providing support," he said.

Odierno, 52, recently replaced Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli as the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq. He will answer to Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who is replacing Gen. George Casey as the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Odierno's remarks came as President Bush prepared an overhaul of U.S. strategy in Iraq. The revision, to be announced this week, could boost the number of U.S. troops in the country from the current 132,000.

Ahead of Bush's announcement, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unveiled on Saturday a major security plan for Baghdad. He promised to root out militias "regardless of sect or politics."

Odierno said Sunday that the massive Iraq-U.S. security operation underway in Baghdad since summer has not succeeded.

"We were able to clear areas. We were not able to hold the areas," he said. "You have to go after both (Shiite) and Sunni neighborhoods, and (Operation) Together Forward was focused mostly on Sunni neighborhoods."

U.S. commanders have complained that al-Maliki's Shiite-led government has prevented them from targeting Shiites involved in the violence, including officials close to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Odierno called for a "balanced approach" targeting extremists of both sects. The new strategy would consist of clearing neighborhoods of insurgents and patrolling those areas heavily; creating more jobs; launching provincial elections; and outlawing militias, he said.

"Unfortunately, we're starting to show a lack of patience. And I understand why," said Odierno, whose son, Army Capt. Anthony Odierno, lost his left arm while on combat duty in Baghdad. "But I think the outcome here is too important not to have patience."

 

U.S. general aims for Baghdad pullback, By Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, January 8, 2007

source:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-01-07-iraq-general_x.htm

Copyright 2007 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.


"(We're) fighting an insurgency in a new country; it's going to take time," [Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno] said. "We have yet to be able to protect the population of Baghdad."

Odierno highlighted three things he believes will help put Iraq back on the right track.

First, the economy: He believes that with more money and jobs, there will be less violence.

Second, Odierno said, the Iraqi government must propose a policy on militias, about 20 percent of which operate outside the law.

When asked if he believes the Iraqi army can take care of these lawless militias, he simply answered, "Yes."

Odierno also stressed that the Iraqi people must trust the security forces.

Battling more than just a homegrown insurgency, Odierno said he and other soldiers are facing off with Iranians who are playing a large part in the violence.

The general said his forces have found Iranian-made RPGs, mortars, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Baghdad -- all made in Iran and brought across the border to assist Shiite fighters.

Of course, many attempts have been made to stem the sectarian warfare in the Iraqi capital -- including the much-touted "Operation Together Forward," launched in June 2006.

"'Operation Together Forward' was a failure because we were not able to hold the areas," Odierno said.

When asked about new operations, he stressed that "the Iraqis will be in the lead in Baghdad."

How much longer will people wait until things get better?

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff has the patience, the administration has the patience ... the question, of course, is with the American people," Odierno said.



- A top U.S. commander's view from the ground, By Cal Perry, CNN, January 8, 2007

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/08/iraq.warrior/index.html

© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


If you know of any other instances where a top official describes the exit strategy (or non-exit strategy) from Iraq, please email the information to me.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


What is the latest exit strategy from Iraq?

What is the Iraq exit strategy?

What is the exit strategy from Iraq?

What is the Iraq war's exit strategy?

What is the official exit strategy from the war in Iraq?

What is the Iraq war's official exit strategy?


 

Page created on February 7, 2005

 

 

"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." - Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals - Nuremberg, Germany 1946

 

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, some of the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

DonHodges.com Logo

All content Copyright © 2006 Don Hodges
Various logos are trademarks of their respective companies.
Send Email to Don Hodges

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com