Bush asks for more patience in Iraq

WASHINGTON – With Democrats pushing for an end to the Iraq war now entering its fifth year, President Bush pleaded for more patience Monday, saying success is possible but “will take months, not days or weeks.”

The war has stretched longer, with higher costs, than the White House ever predicted. On the fourth anniversary of the day Bush directed the invasion to begin, the president made a televised statement from the White House Roosevelt Room to defend continued U.S. involvement.

He said his plan to send 21,500 additional U.S. troops to secure Baghdad and Iraq’s troubled Anbar Province “will need more time to take effect,” especially since fewer than half of the troop reinforcements have yet arrived in the capital. Bush added: “There will be good days and bad days ahead as the security plan unfolds.”

Democrats are bringing up this week in the House a war spending bill that would effectively require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the fall of 2008, on top of providing funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the year. The White House has been pushing aggressively against this legislation, and Bush did so again on Monday.

“It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home,” he said. “That may be satisfying in the short run. But I believe the consequences for America’s security would be devastating.”

Democrats blasted Bush’s statement. They called it an an open-ended commitment to a losing strategy.

“The American people have lost confidence in President Bush’s plan for a war without end in Iraq,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) of California. “That failed approach has been rejected by the voters in our nation, and it will be rejected by the Congress.”

Democrats also sought to refute Bush’s assertion that the House bill would reduce flexibility needed by the military to win the war.

“There is nothing in this legislation that will be considered this week that micromanages the war,” said House Majority Steny Hoyer (news, bio, voting record), D-Md. No military general “will in any way be constrained from the tactics or the strategies that they deem best to employ on the ground in Iraq.”

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