Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yes...The concern of the voters is...THE WAR IN IRAQ

The Bush administration held a press conference this morning to impress "We the people" that all is well in Iraq, but most will agree that there is not much that is right about it.

As a prelude to the questions and answers, Bush delivered a speech, which pretty much re-iterated the same policy that we have seen throughout the war.


10/25/2006 10:31 A.M. EDT

Some exerpts from the interview

QUESTION: Prime Minister Maliki apparently gave his own news conferences this morning, where he seemed to be referring to Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey yesterday, when he said nobody has the right to set any
timetables in Iraq, and also seemed to be upset about the raid in Sadr City, saying he wasn't consulted. And, I
believe the quote was, It will not be repeated.

BUSH: First, this is back to the question that David asked about benchmarks. You called it timetables. OK, we call it timetables. Excuse me. I think he's referring to the benchmarks that were developing that show a way forward to the Iraqi people -- and the American people, for that matter -- about how this unity government is going to solve problems and bring the people together.
And if his point is that those benchmarks, or the way
forward, can't be imposed upon Iraq by an outside force,
he's right. This is a sovereign government.

But we're working closely with the government to be able
to say, Here's what's going to happen then, Here's what we
expect to happen now, Here's what should be expected in
the future.

The second part of your question?

BUSH: Oh, on the sectarian -- on the militias -- I heard
that and I asked to see his complete transcript of this
press conference where he made it very clear that militias
harm the stability of his country; people who operate
outside the law will be dealt with.
That's what the prime minister said in his press
The idea that, you know, we need to coordinate with him
makes sense to me. And there's a lot of operations taking
place, which means that, sometimes, communications may not
be as good as they should be. And we'll continue to work
very closely with the government to make sure that the
communications are solid.

I do believe Prime Minister Maliki is the right man to
achieve the goal in Iraq. He's got a hard job. He's been
there for five months -- a little over five months. And
there's a lot of pressure on him -- pressure from inside
his country.

Look, he's got to deal with sectarian violence, he's got
to deal with criminals, he's got to deal with Al Qaida;
all of whom are lethal. These are people that will kill.
And he wants to achieve the same objective I want to
achieve. And he's making tough decisions.
I'm impressed, for example, by the way that he has got
religious leaders, both Sunni and Shia, to start working

I appreciate the fact that he has made a very clear
statement on militias. And by the way, death squad members are being brought to
justice in this plan -- during these operations in Baghdad.

And I speak to him quite frequently. And I remind him
we're with him, so long as he continues to make tough
decisions. That's what we expect. We expect that the Iraqi
government will make the hard decisions necessary to unite
the country and listen to the will of the 12 million people.

Q Mr. President, for several years you have been saying that America will stay the course in Iraq; you were committed to the policy. And now you say that, no, you're not saying, stay the course, that you're adapting to win, that you're showing flexibility. And as you mentioned, out of Baghdad we're now hearing about benchmarks and timetables from the Iraqi government, as relayed by American officials, to stop the sectarian violence.

In the past, Democrats and other critics of the war who talked about benchmarks and timetables were labeled as defeatists, defeat-o-crats, or people who wanted to cut and run. So why shouldn't the American people conclude that this is nothing from you other than semantic, rhetorical games and all politics two weeks before an election?

THE PRESIDENT: David, there is a significant difference between benchmarks for a government to achieve and a timetable for withdrawal. You're talking about -- when you're talking about the benchmarks, he's talking about the fact that we're working with the Iraqi government to have certain benchmarks to meet as a way to determine whether or not they're making the hard decisions necessary to achieve peace. I believe that's what you're referring to. And we're working with the Iraqi government to come up with benchmarks.

Listen, this is a sovereign government. It was elected by the people of Iraq. What we're asking them to do is to say, when do you think you're going to get this done, when can you get this done, so the people themselves in Iraq can see that the government is moving forward with a reconciliation plan and plans necessary to unify this government.

That is substantially different, David, from people saying, we want a time certain to get out of Iraq. As a matter of fact, the benchmarks will make it more likely we win. Withdrawing on an artificial timetable means we lose.

Now, I'm giving the speech -- you're asking me why I'm giving this speech today -- because there's -- I think I owe an explanation to the American people, and will continue to make explanations. The people need to know that we have a plan for victory. Like I said in my opening comments, I fully understand if the people think we don't have a plan for victory, they're not going to support the effort. And so I'll continue to speak out about our way forward.




Q What if there is a civil war?

THE PRESIDENT: You're asking me hypotheticals. Our job is
to make sure there's not one, see. You been around here
five-and-a-half years, you know I won't answer
hypotheticals. Occasionally slip up, but --

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You talk about the U.S.
government and the Iraqi government working closely
together on benchmarks. I'm wondering, sir, why was Prime
Minister Maliki not at the news conference yesterday with
General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad? Would that not
have sent a strong message about there being a very close
level of cooperation between the two governments?

THE PRESIDENT: Elaine, I have no idea why he wasn't there.

Q Was he invited, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I have no idea. I'm not the scheduler of
news conferences. I do know they work very closely
together, and they've got a very close working
relationship, and that's important.

Q May I ask you, sir, following up, when you say that
you're not satisfied with the way things are going in
Iraq, why should that not be interpreted by some to mean
that you are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Maliki's

THE PRESIDENT: Because I know Prime Minister Maliki, I
know how hard his job is, and I understand that he is
working to make the decisions necessary to bring this
country together. And he's -- look, we'll push him, but
we're not going to push him to the point where he can't
achieve the objective. And we'll continue to work with
him. He represents a government formed by the people of
Iraq. It's a -- and he's got a tough job. I mean, think
about what his job is like. He's got to deal with
political factions. He's got to deal with the hatred that
is left over from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

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