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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Somber Bush Speaks to Nation

Council on Foreign Relations

Updated: January 24, 2007
Prepared by: Michael Moran

While more attention appeared to be focused on the state of his presidency than the union, President Bush countered with determined talk of eventual victory in Iraq and against al-Qaeda. He offered some conciliatory words for the Democrats who displaced his party as the congressional majority in November, and a number of new domestic proposals on energy, health policy, and other issues.

He described his decision to send more troops into Iraq, the so-called "surge" he outlined in a speech earlier this month, as "the best chance for success." He also said he has told the Iraqi government it, too, must act decisively: "Our commitment is not open ended." The military aspects of the surge are examined in this Backgrounder. But the president “may have been speaking into the void,” writes Dan Balz of the Washington Post, citing the turn in U.S. public opinion against the war. The day after his speech, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a nonbinding resolution, 12-9 along mostly party lines, expressing opposition to his surge plan as “not in the national interest” (AP). A vote in the full Senate may come as early as next week.

A survey of thirteen CFR experts found concern that the speech signals clashes with Congress on everything from Iraq to trade policy. The director of CFR's Washington program, Nancy E. Roman, told's Bernard Gwertzman that Bush was "virtually pleading" with Congress to support his Iraq policy, but she also saw possibilities for common ground on energy and immigration reform. In the official Democratic response to Bush’s speech, freshman Sen. James Webb said the president had “recklessly” brought the nation into the Iraq war and must now bring the war to an end. If he does not, Webb said, Democrats will “show him the way" (NYT).

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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