from the news conference (Bush's words more profound read than listened to):
Q: Mr. President . . . You've continually cited the elections, the new government, its progress in Iraq, and yet the violence has gotten worse in certain areas. You've had to go to Baghdad again. Is it not time for a new strategy? And if not, why not?
THE PRESIDENT: The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. The tactics -- now, either you say, yes, its important we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the President. That would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists.
No, we're not leaving. The strategic objective is to help this government succeed. That's the strategic -- and not only to help the government -- the reformers in Iraq succeed, but to help the reformers across the region succeed to fight off the elements of extremism. The tactics are which change. Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective, it means you're leaving before the mission is complete. And we're not going to leave before the mission is complete. I agree with General Abizaid: We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.
And so we have changed tactics. Our commanders have got the flexibility necessary to change tactics on the ground, starting with Plan Baghdad. And that's when we moved troops from Mosul into Baghdad and replaced them with the Stryker Brigade, so we increased troops during this time of instability.
Q: You keep -- you keep saying that you don't want to leave. But is your strategy to win working? Even if you don't want to leave? You've gone into Baghdad before, these things have happened before.
THE PRESIDENT: If I didn't think it would work, I would change -- our commanders would recommend changing the strategy. They believe it will work. It takes time to defeat these people. The Maliki government has been in power for less than six months. And, yes, the people spoke. I've cited that as a part of -- the reason I cite it is because it's what the Iraqi people want. And the fundamental question facing this government is whether or not we will stand with reformers across the region. It's really the task. And we're going to stand with this government.
Obviously, I wish the violence would go down, but not as much as the Iraqi citizens would wish the violence would go down. But, incredibly enough, they show great courage, and they want our help. And any sign that says we're going to leave before the job is done simply emboldens terrorists and creates a certain amount of doubt for people so they won't take the risk necessary to help a civil society evolve in the country.
This is a campaign -- I'm sure they're watching the campaign carefully. There are a lot of good, decent people saying, get out now; vote for me, I will do everything I can to, I guess, cut off money is what they'll try to do to get our troops out. It's a big mistake. It would be wrong, in my judgment, for us to leave before the mission is complete in Iraq.
This declaration is an amazingly arrogant stance for Bush to take in light of public opinion which shows that Americans want to see the Iraq occupation over and done with, in most cases by year's end as the WH and their generals were hinting they were planning just a few months ago. Not only are his generals sending reports back that the country is slipping into civil war, the troops on the ground have been questioning what their mission actually is. However, as the Democrats edge ahead of his party in the midterm election polling, and threaten to stifle his manufactured mandate to war, the call of congressional politics is all Bush seems to hear as he considers our soldier's future in Iraq.
Bush acted surprised that someone running for office would tell voters they'd 'get the troops out' of Iraq by cutting off the funding that feeds his militarism. Funding's the main function of Congress, besides their blathering and posturing that gets more intense the closer we get to the elections. The only way to restrain Bush from continuing the deployment of troops to Iraq is for Congress to exercise their oversight responsibilities and reign in the money that supports the disaster. Yesterday, the Congressional Research Service, Congress's policy research branch, reported that for fiscal 2006, monthly costs for Iraq alone could hit $8 billion.
It's interesting that Bush is now saying that he'll continue the occupation. It's as if he's saying he's going to do whatever he wants with our soldiers, independent of the will of Congress, as he regularly does with his 'signing statements' he attaches to deliberated and congressionally-approved laws which pass his desk.
The way that he blithely dismissed the suggestion that his Iraq mission has failed with his personal assurance that we could trust his thinking, without his even acknowledging any of the grave and immediate obstacles to any of his stated goals and ambitions there, is a sad reflection of the power Bush has amassed by just imagining it, asserting himself, and waiting for the challenges he knows from experience will not come from the present pack of congressional cowards.
Now we have a declaration from Bush that his "strategic objective" is to help the Iraqi government "succeed'. Also, Bush has decided that our soldiers are there to help "reformers across the region" as they "fight off elements of extremism.' But, who are these reformers in Iraq? Certainly not the prime minister who openly equated the US mission with some 'Zionist' crusade, nor Maliki, who had to be goaded into including Hizbollah in his condemnations of violence in Lebanon.
What is our democracy's role - our government pledged to protect and defend our own laws and values - in protecting and defending Maliki's Shiite dominated regime that Bush has so obliquely defined as a legitimate democracy? When does our military support for Maliki skew the will of the Iraqis, whose participation and determination of the direction and control of their government should not be restricted to the voting process they endured under our armed occupation and control?
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