Bush: 'Sober judgment' dictates troops stay in Iraq
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- His war policies under siege at home, President Bush said Saturday there would be no early troop withdrawal because "sober judgment" must prevail over emotional calls to end the military mission before Iraq is stabil...
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- His war policies under siege at home, President Bush said Saturday there would be no early troop withdrawal because "sober judgment" must prevail over emotional calls to end the military mission before Iraq is stabilized.
"We will fight the terrorists in Iraq. We will stay in the fight until we have achieved the victory that our brave troops have fought for," Bush told thousands of American troops spilling out of a cold hangar at this U.S. military installation 40 miles south of Seoul. "The defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice."
The speech added the president's voice, from thousands of miles away, to a nasty debate in Congress over his Iraq policies and the timing of any U.S. withdrawal. It also continued a rapid-fire White House counterattack against the president's newly aggressive war critics.
Bush spoke at the end of a three-day stay in South Korea, laying over here for little more than an hour after meetings with 20 other Pacific Rim leaders in Busan, South Korea. Immediately after speaking, he left for China -- the most anticipated segment of his weeklong Asian swing.
Democrats have seized on the indictment of a top White House aide in the CIA leak case to question whether the president deceptively portrayed prewar intelligence on whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons were Bush's main justification for war, but none were found.
An AP-Ipsos poll earlier this month found a significant drop in the share of Americans saying Bush is honest. Also, with the U.S. death toll now above 2,080 in Iraq, nearly two-thirds of the country disapproves of Bush's conduct of the war.
Underscoring those worries, unwelcome news poured out of Iraq Friday. Suicide bombers detonated explosives at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin, near the Iranian border, killing at least 74 worshippers during noon prayers. In Baghdad, a pair of car bombs targeted a hotel housing Western journalists and killed several Iraqis nearby.
Some Republicans on Capitol Hill have become willing to question Bush on Iraq -- albeit carefully -- amid fears that the public's concerns will affect next year's midterm congressional elections.
Earlier this week, the GOP-controlled Senate voted down a Democratic push for Bush to outline a withdrawal timetable, but supported telling the president to outline a strategy for "the successful completion of the mission" in Iraq.
Washington's weeklong clash over Iraq policy continued Friday, fueled by the call from prominent defense hawk and decorated Vietnam war veteran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., for the nearly 160,000 troops to be brought home.
Murtha introduced a resolution saying troops should be withdrawn "at the earliest practicable date." House Republican leaders countered with an alternative that, in calling for an immediate withdrawal, was designed to be soundly defeated. An overwhelming vote of 403-3 did just that in late-night session but only after an acrimonious, personal debate over the war.