President Addresses Iraq Doubts in Radio Address
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:
In his weekly radio address today, President Bush used a glass-half-full approach to reiterate his belief that the U.S. must stay the course in Iraq. Pointing to the interim progress report released this week, the president said that while progress in eight areas was deemed unsatisfactory, progress in eight others - several of them security benchmarks - is cause for optimism.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Our strategy is built on the premise that progress on security will pave the way for political progress. This report shows that conditions can change, progress can be made and the fight in Iraq can be won.
ELLIOTT: Once again, the president warned against pulling out too soon.
Pres. BUSH: To begin to bring troops home before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for our country. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaida, risking a humanitarian catastrophe, and allowing the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq and gain control of vast oil resources they could use to fund new attacks on America.
ELLIOTT: The Democratic response was delivered by Brandon Friedman, a former infantry officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said the Bush administration actually failed to follow the advice of the military from day one.
Mr. BRANDON FRIEDMAN (Retired, U.S. Army): In 2003, it was General Shinseki. In 2006, it was General Abizaid. And this year, Generals Batiste and Eaton explained to Americans that the president and his supporters in Congress didn't listen to the military brass when it counted.
ELLIOTT: Now, he said it's time to transition from a military solution to a political one.
Mr. FRIEDMAN: The fact is, the Iraq war has kept us from devoting assets we need to fight terrorists worldwide as evidenced by the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and al-Qaida has been able to rebuild. We need an effective offensive strategy that takes the fight to our real enemies abroad. And best way to do that is to get our troops out of the middle of this civil war in Iraq.
ELLIOTT: In Iraq today, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, speaking for the first time since the interim report was released, declared that Iraqi forces were ready to takeover from the U.S. anytime. Though, he said, they needed further weapons and training.
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