President Bush Tuesday night gave some compelling reasons why the United States can’t afford to lose Iraq, including the danger of that country becoming a staging area for lethal terrorists such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
He indicated some progress, although vaguely, in the two approaches that offer the most hope for U.S. troops leaving Iraq: political settlement talks with Sunni leaders and military training of Iraqi troops.
Beyond that, the speech fell far short of the blunt talk I had hoped for: He gave no indication of what specific new strategies he would employ to make our military more effective against the daily bombings and ambushes Americans are seeing on their TV screens.
No additional troops. Nothing new with training or fielding Iraqi troops. No indication even in the most general terms of an exit strategy.
I doubt the speech will give much of a bump to Bush’s sliding poll numbers on Iraq. On the eve of his speech, a Gallup/CNN poll showed that 61 percent of Americans didn’t think the president had a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq.
Bush offered nothing reassuring on that front. Americans are pragmatists who realize that you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
The speech prepared them for more of the same.
Posted by Randy Scholfield
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