Bush rejectes timetable demand

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari have ruled out setting a date for pulling US forces out of Iraq amid a rising death toll and shrinking US support for the war.

“This is not the time to fall back,” Mr Jaafari said as the two leaders showed a united front at a joint press conference after a meeting at the White House.

“They figure if they can shake our will and, you know, affect public opinion, then politicians will give up on the mission,” Mr Bush said of those behind the deadly violence in Iraq. “I’m not giving up on the mission.”

The president and prime minister dismissed a growing chorus of calls for setting a timetable for withdrawing US forces and said insurgents and terrorists had failed to thwart Iraq’s efforts to build a democracy.

“Why would you say to the enemy: ‘Here’s a timetable. Just go ahead and wait us out’?” Mr Bush asked rhetorically. “It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable.”

“We owe it to those who have made sacrifices to continue toward the goals they fought. I see from up close what’s happening in Iraq and I know we are making steady and substantial progress,” said Mr Jaafari.

Polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of the job the president has been doing on Iraq and want to see a timetable for bringing US troops home, while even some of his Republican allies have scolded the Bush administration for what they said were overly optimistic assessments.

More than 1,700 US troops have died since the March 2003 invasion to topple
Saddam Hussein.

In Iraq, a suicide bomb attack on a US military convoy killed up to six service members and wounded 13 others, most of them female marines, returning from duty in the flashpoint city of Fallujah, the US military said.

The president made no reference to the attack but warned: “The way ahead is not going to be easy.”

“This is a time of testing, and it’s a critical time,” said Mr Bush, who planned to mount a prime-time defence of his strategy for Iraq on Tuesday in a speech at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina.

And Mr Jaafari took aim at pessimists, saying: “People said Saddam would not fall, and he did. They said the elections would not happen, and they did. They say the constitution will not be written, but it will.”

Nearly one year after the US-led coalition handed sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government, Mr Bush cited progress on the political front and said that training Iraqi security forces will pave the way for a US withdrawal.

The meeting came a day after senior administration officials struck back at war critics, including some Republicans.

“Any who say that we’ve lost this war, or that we’re losing this war, are wrong. We are not,” Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr Rumsfeld appeared to be targeting Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who charged in an interview this week that “Things aren’t getting better; they’re getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality.”

“It’s like they’re just making it up as they go along. The reality is, we’re losing in Iraq,” Mr Hagel told US News and World report.

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