10 July 2007
Give Iraq Security Strategy a Chance, Says Bush
Urges Congress to wait until September before taking action on Iraq
Washington – The surge of additional U.S. troops into Iraq has been completed and critics should give them time to implement the strategy designed to quell the insurgency, President Bush says.
“I welcome a good, honest debate about the consequences of failure, the consequences of success in this war,” Bush said in Cleveland July 10. “But I believe that it's in this nation’s interests to give the commander a chance to fully implement his operations.”
Following a rising tide of sectarian violence and terrorist attacks in 2006, the White House introduced a new strategy early in 2007, developed in partnership with Iraqi officials, that featured a surge of 21,500 additional U.S. forces in Baghdad, as well as additional troops in the country’s western Anbar province.
“I looked at the consequences of stepping back, the consequences not only for Iraq, but the consequences for an important neighborhood for the security of the United States of America,” Bush said. “What would the Iranians think about America if we stepped back in the face of this extremist challenge? What would other extremists think? What would al-Qaida be able to do? They'd be able to recruit better and raise more money [with] which to launch their objectives.”
Troop deployments were completed in late June, Bush said, and the 160,000 U.S. forces are tasked with supporting Iraqi security forces as they clear neighborhoods of insurgents, establish a continuous presence and work with local leaders to rebuild communities.
Overall, violence has decreased, says the White House.
“I fully understand that when you watch the violence on TV every night, people are saying, is it worth it? Can we accomplish an objective?” Bush said. “Well, first, I want to tell you, yes, we can accomplish and win this fight in Iraq.”
The president is facing considerable debate in Washington from Congress and from those within his own political party over the continued violence in Iraq and whether the Iraqi government has made progress toward achieving key reforms, which Bush said will require much more work.
But the president said Congress should wait for a comprehensive update on the Iraqi security strategy that will be sent to Congress in September. This assessment will provide a clearer picture of progress to date and the challenges ahead, the president said. An interim report is being prepared now that focuses on the Iraqi government's efforts to meet a number of political and economic benchmarks.
“I believe Congress ought to wait for General [David] Petraeus to come back and give us assessment of the strategy that he's putting in place before they make any decisions,” Bush said.
A transcript of the president’s remarks is available on the White House Web site.
For more information, see Iraq Update.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov
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