Bush: Troops need more time in Iraq
President George W. Bush appealed on Friday for more time to allow his troop increase to work in Iraq, but a U.S. Senate ally said September was still pivotal for evaluating the strategy.
Bush slammed Congress for preparing to leave for an August break without passing a defense policy bill that, among other things, would provide for a pay raise for military personnel and more equipment for the war. "I also ask Congress to give our troops time to carry out our new strategy in Iraq," Bush said at the White House.
"It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed," he noted.
The report due on Sept. 15 from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is considered central to the debate in Congress over whether to force a troop drawdown in Iraq.
In his remarks, Bush said the war has had "frustrating setbacks. It's also had important successes." He pointed to the turnaround in Anbar province and the capture of one of al-Qaeda's top leaders in Iraq. "Our nation deserves a serious debate about Iraq," Bush said, "because the outcome of this conflict will have enormous consequences for our country."
"Failure in Iraq would send an unmistakable signal to America's enemies that our country can be bullied into retreat," the president said, according to the AP. "America's involvement in Iraq does not have to end this way. A free and stable Iraq is still in reach."