(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – New day, same war, different approach, more criticism. That sums up where the nation stands on Iraq, on this morning after President Bush outlined a course correction.
But even before President Bush delivered his speech Wednesday night, Democrats rejected what he was about to say — that more than 20,000 additional troops are needed in Iraq to help the U.S. succeed in the war against terror.
President Bush said most of the troops — from five brigades — will be deployed to Baghdad – with about 4,000 to Anbar Province. “Our troops will have a well-defined mission,” President Bush said — “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.”
President Bush, in a nod to his many critics, admitted that “past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons.” First, he said there were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists. And second, he said there were “too many restrictions” on troops that were operating in the combat zone.
President Bush said military commanders have reviewed his new plan “to ensure that it addressed these mistakes.”
“The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people — and it is unacceptable to me,” President Bush said. “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.”
At the same time, President Bush continued to insist that failure in Iraq would be a “disaster” for the United States. If the U.S. fails to stabilize Iraq, he warned, radical Islamic extremists will grow stronger and attract more 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,” he said, adding that Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
“For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq,” Bush insisted.
President Bush noted that 80 percent of the sectarian violence happens within 30 miles of Baghdad.
He said the Iraqi government, under Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has come up with an “aggressive” plan — including the deployment of more Iraqi troops — to quell the militias that are calling the shots.
President Bush acknowledged that many Americans may question why his new effort will succeed when earlier ones did not. He explained how his new approach is different:
“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.”
Prodding the prime minister
President Bush said he’s “made it clear” to the Iraqi prime minister 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,” he said.
More attacks expected
President Bush warned the American people that his new strategy will not bring an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations or roadside bombings.
“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.
President Bush said that most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shi’ite factions “want to live together in peace.” He said reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.
Under Bush’s new plan, the Iraqi government plans to:
— Take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November.
— Pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.
— Spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs.
— Hold provincial elections later this year.
— Reform de-Baathification laws and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.
The U.S. government will:
— Embed more American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and pair a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division.
— Help Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army.
— Accelerate the training of Iraqi forces.
— Double the number of provincial reconstruction teams..
— Appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for the money spent.
Iran and Syria
President Bush said he has ordered an additional carrier strike group to the region to “protect American interests” from Iranian and Syrian meddling.
“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.”
In an indirect response to Democratic criticism, President Bush said scaling back the U.S. troop presence in Iraq would “force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killing on an unimaginable scale.”
The scenario, he said, would end up keeping U.S. troops in Iraq even longer. “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,” he said.
President Bush, conceding that “honorable people have different views,” said he will listen to lawmakers who suggest modifications to his latest plan.
“If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them,” he said. “If circumstances change, we will adjust…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.”
Don’t give up
President Bush, invoking history, said Americans have “always defied the pessimists” and had their “faith in freedom redeemed.”
He said the struggle in Iraq — the struggle against global terrorism — “will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.”
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
NOTE TO STUDENTS: The article and questions are long, but important to understand. This issue is especially significant to the 2008 presidential election. Who the new president is will dictate future Iraq policy. Learn the facts and know where you stand. Note that almost all Democrats are against President Bush’s plan, with the exception of Democrat turned Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, while most Republicans support the plan. Among Republicans presidential hopefuls, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas opposes the plan, while Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain support sending more troops.
1. a) How many additional troops will be sent to Iraq?
b) What did President Bush say will be the troops’ mission?
2. a) What failure did President Bush admit to in his speech?
b) For what two reasons did efforts to secure Baghdad fail?
3. On whom did President Bush place the blame for the current situation in Iraq?
4. a) What is “sectarian violence?”
b) Where does 80% of the sectarian violence in Iraq occur?
5. President Bush acknowledged that many Americans might ask why the new plan will work when earlier ones did not. What two reasons did he give for saying the new plan will work?
6. How did President Bush address critics’ concerns that Iraqis are not “stepping up to the plate?”
7. a) What warning did the President give about violence in Iraq? b) How was he also optimistic about the future of violence in Iraq?
8. Re-read what the Iraqi government will do, and what the U.S. government will do under the new plan, listed in paragraphs 20 and 21.
What do you think about these plans? (For a fact sheet on the new strategy for Iraq presented by President Bush, go to WhiteHouse.gov.)
9. Not mentioned in this article was President Bush’s statements that American forces in Iraq would “disrupt” attacks from Syria- and Iran-backed terrorists, “interrupt” the supply lines reaching back to those countries, and “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” That last sentence is the closest Mr. Bush has come to announcing attacks on Iranian territory, where American intelligence and military leaders have said the most destructive improvised explosives used against American convoys are made.
Do you agree with the President’s tough stance on Iran and Syria? Explain your answer. [Information for this question taken from Eli Lake’s 1/11 article at nysun.com]
10. In your opinion, what was the tone of the President’s speech? (Not President Bush’s tone of voice, but what was the tone of what he said – his words?)
(Watch or read President Bush’s entire speech at WhiteHouse.gov.)
Conservatives generally support Republican President Bush. For a conservative perspective of President Bush’s speech, go to conservative blog AmericanThinker.com
Liberals generally oppose the President. For a liberal perspective of President Bush’s speech, go to liberal blog HuffingtonPost.com.
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