Bush Faces Opposition, Low Public Support for Troop Plan for Iraq
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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
President Bush told the American people this week that he plans to send more troops to Iraq. He called the situation there unacceptable and added: "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."
The president spoke Wednesday night from the White House.
Mr. Bush said past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two main reasons. First, there were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure areas that had been cleared. Secondly, he said, there were too many restrictions on American forces.
Under the new plan, more than twenty thousand American troops will join the roughly one hundred thirty thousand already in the war. Most will go to Baghdad to help Iraqi forces. Others will go to the most violent area outside the capital, Anbar province in the west. The president called Anbar the home base for al-Qaida in Iraq.
His "New Way Forward" plan also calls for more than one billion dollars in additional economic aid for Iraq.
Mr. Bush has been under pressure to bring American troops home. He says an increase is needed first, to prevent the collapse of the democratically elected Iraqi government. But the newspaper USA Today, for example, found that just twelve percent of the American people support sending more troops.
President Bush said the Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police across Baghdad to support local police. He said he has made it clear to Iraqi leaders that America's presence in Iraq is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, he said, it will lose the support of the American people.
He expressed the belief that victory is still possible, in the sense of a democratic Iraq that would serve as an example for the Arab world. He said succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territory. He said the United States will target what he called the "flow of support" from Iran and Syria for attacks on American forces.
President Bush said American military commanders believe his plan can work. But Senator Dick Durbin, in the Democratic answer to the speech, said the president is ignoring the advice of most of his top generals.
The war was a major cause of the Republican loss of Congress in the November elections. The new Democratic leaders in Congress condemned the troop increase even before Mr. Bush presented it.
They are planning advisory votes in both houses to urge the president not to send more troops. But many Democrats say that is not enough. Some Republicans are also against the plan.
Separately, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a plan to increase the Army and Marine Corps by ninety-two thousand troops. The increase, over five years, requires congressional approval. He also announced that some part-time forces will be called to duty for a second time before the usual five-year waiting period.
IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. I'm Bob Doughty.