Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reaction to Bush's Speech on Iraq


-- Reaction to President Bush's speech on Iraq at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' convention Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo.:

"The president's surge was supposed to create the political space for national reconciliation. Instead the politics have reached total gridlock, while the security situation remains essentially unchanged. By the President's own measures the surge has failed." _ Ilan Goldenberg, policy director of National Security Network in Washington.

"The speech was an act of desperation to scare the American people into staying the course in Iraq. He's distorted the facts, painting all of the people in Iraq as being on the same side which is simply not the case. Iraq is a religious civil war." _ Lawrence Korb, assistant defense secretary under President Reagan and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

"Bush is cherry-picking history to support his case for staying the course. What I learned in Vietnam is that U.S. forces could not conduct a counterinsurgency operation. The longer we stay there, the worse it's going to get." _ Ret. Army Brig. Gen. John Johns, a counterinsurgency expert who served in Vietnam.

"The president emphasized the violence in the wake of American withdrawal from Vietnam. But this happened because the United States left too late, not too early. It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay the worse it gets." _ Steven Simon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"President Johnson said in 1966, `The solution to Vietnam is patience.' President Nixon said in 1969, 'As our commanders in the field determine that the South Vietnamese are able to assume a greater portion of the responsibility for the defense of their own territory, troops will come back.' Today, we hear the same misleading rhetoric coming from this administration. In Vietnam, we were talking about 10 years of patience and, in the end, a U.S. military solution did not work. Now, five year's into the war in Iraq, the president continues to seek a U.S. military solution to an Iraqi civil war. The American people will not accept patience as a strategy while the Iraqi Government continues to ignore key political and economic benchmarks." _ Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House Appropriations' subcommittee on defense.

"Whatever improvements in security that may have resulted from the efforts of our troops since the surge began, Iraqi leaders have not done the hard political work on which the future of their country depends. And therefore, the purpose of the surge _ to enable the Iraqis to produce political reconciliation has not been accomplished. That is the standard against which Congress and the American people will judge the White House report of September 15." _ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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