- Bush says, “More Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy”
- More doesn’t not = a sufficient amount to make a difference
- Former Sen. Cleland says Bush ignores facts to sell the Iraq war
- This isn’t the first time Cleland has criticized Bush and the war, it would be more relevant to listen to someone who hasn’t teamed up with Kerry in the past to slam Bush and the Iraq war. Which is why the Intelligence Assessment holds more sway and is likely more significant news to the average US citizen unsure of how to swallow the situation in the Middle East.
- Iraq’s leaders “unwilling to make … decisions necessary to end” the war
- Week in Washington includes release of Intelligence Assessment of near stagnant progress in cooperation with Iraqi public officials and security forces. Lack of political capital in Iraq (among Iraqi political leaders) and lack of lack of political capital at home (with looming and not so looming 2008 presidential campaigns) makes the future of a free and stable Iraq a nearly certain failure, no?
- WHAT TO WATCH: Who former Senator Max Cleland is working with in upcoming Democratic Campaign events, after his strong showing for Kerry in 2004. He is likely to be a major adviser to one of the Democratic contenders in the 2008 elections.
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — President Bush said Saturday that Iraqis are sacrificing dearly to secure their country, trying to underscore that the U.S. is not bearing the toll alone.
“Here at home, it can be easy to overlook the bravery shown by Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians who are in the fight for freedom,” Bush said in a radio address taped at his ranch in central Texas. “But our troops on the ground see it every day.”
Bush told the story of an Iraqi man who stepped forward to intercept a suicide bomber who was running for a team of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians near Baghdad. The bomber and the Iraqi man died as the bomb detonated, but the soldiers and Iraqis were spared.
A citizens group, Bush said, tipped off police about the location of an al Qaeda cell believed responsible for the attack, which led to arrests.
Former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm while serving in Vietnam, said Bush is ignoring the facts to again try to sell the Iraq war.
Despite enormous sacrifice by Americans, Cleland said in his party’s radio address, “We find ourselves mired in a civil war with no end in sight and Iraqis unable or unwilling to make the political decisions necessary to end this conflict.”
Bush’s positive take on Iraq’s internal efforts comes as lawmakers and the broader public in the U.S. have grown deeply frustrated over Iraq’s inability to improve its affairs.
“As security improves, more Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy,” Bush said. “Young Iraqi men are signing up for the army. Iraqi police are now patrolling the streets. Coalition and Iraqi forces have doubled the number of joint operations.”
Bush’s address comes days after he compared the Iraq war to Vietnam — linking the U.S. pullout back then to the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and warning that withdrawing troops now could have similarly disastrous consequences.
Earlier in the week, a bleak assessment by the U.S. intelligence community found that the Iraqi government is hampered by rampant violence and deep sectarian differences. It bluntly reported, “To date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively.”
Bush’s strategy this year was to build up U.S. forces in the Iraq war and give the country’s leaders the security and time they need to make fundamental political progress. Bush is awaiting a pivotal report in September on how much progress has been made with the buildup.
Bush’s radio address capped an active week in which he appeared to distance himself from embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, only to endorse Maliki the next day; delivered a speech in which he likened today’s fight against extremism to past conflicts in Japan, Korea and Vietnam; and dealt with the release of the sobering intelligence estimate.
That estimate found that Iraq’s security will continue to “improve modestly” over the next six to 12 months, provided that coalition forces mount strong counterinsurgency operations and mentor Iraqi forces. But even then, it said, violence levels will remain high as the country struggles to achieve national political reconciliation.
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