We find it generally nonconstructive to report on Junior, but this reality he’s in is scaring us. The surge is working, Iran is a menace, a Mid-East nuclear arms race … Where does he live?
Bush sells Iraq troop-surge policy, slams Iran
By William Douglas and Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers
RENO, Nev. — President Bush said Tuesday that “there are unmistakable signs” that his troop buildup in Iraq is working and blasted critics who say that the failure of Iraq’s national government to foster political reconciliation proves that the troop increase is failing.
Bush painted a stark picture of what might happen if U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq, saying that would embolden Iran, al Qaida and other extremists to spread instability throughout the Middle East and spur a regional nuclear-arms race that would endanger the world.
“Iran could conclude that we are weak — and not stop them from gaining nuclear weapons,” he told the American Legion convention here. “And once Iran had nuclear weapons, it could set off an arms race in the region.”
The president’s speech appeared to have two objectives: to amplify his warning to Iran that he won’t tolerate its aggression, and to build public support for his “surge” policy in Iraq before Congress returns from vacation next week to weigh anew what to do there.
On Iran, Bush was unusually hawkish. He said Iran’s regime embodied and sustained one of two strains of radicalism — Shiite Muslim extremism — that threatened the Middle East. The other is Sunni Muslim extremism, led by al Qaida.
“Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere,” he said. “We will confront this danger before it is too late.”
The president said Iranians were supplying extremists in Iraq with money and weapons that were killing U.S. troops. “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities,” he said.
Bush gave a more extensive argument to his view that his troop increase is working. He said coalition forces were killing and capturing far more insurgents in recent months, sectarian violence was down, political reconciliation was improving in several provinces, the central government was helping with provincial reconstruction and that electricity production was rising.
“The surge is seizing the initiative from the enemy — and handing it to the Iraqi people,” he said.
Yet the president’s version of Iraq’s reality glossed over the findings in a bleak National Intelligence Estimate released last Thursday. Like Bush, the intelligence report warned that changing the U.S. military mission could have negative results, but it was much less optimistic about chances for national reconciliation. Iraq’s government, it predicted, will become “more precarious” over the next six to 12 months.
Read it here.