Bush Plans Major Address on Iraq War This Morning
President Bush plans what the White House terms a “major address” this morning to shore up support for staying the course in Iraq.
President Bush is stepping up his defense of his Iraq policy as he faces declining public support for the war and a crucial test in Iraq with the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum. Aides said Bush would take on war critics directly in a speech on Iraq and the broader war on terrorism on Thursday before the National Endowment for Democracy.
Bush got briefed Wednesday on Iraq by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. David Petraeus and said he was pleased with the progress in the training of Iraqi troops. “The Iraqis are showing more and more capability of taking the fight to the enemy,” the president told reporters. “As they become more capable, we will be able to bring folks home.” He did not offer a timetable.
Bush also said he expected insurgents to try to derail next week’s vote on a new constitution. “We fully understand they intend to disrupt the constitutional process, or will try to do so, as well as stop the progress of democracy,” Bush said. “Part of the way the Pentagon and the folks on the ground are going to deal with it is to stay on the offense, and that’s what’s taking place.”
President Bush will deliver a “major speech” speech Thursday on the progress of the war in Iraq and the broader conflict against terrorism, the White House said Wednesday. Bush will deliver his remarks at 10:10 a.m. at a National Endowment for Democracy event in Washington.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan characterized Bush’s planned remarks Thursday morning as a “major speech” that will address the connection between Iraq and the broader war against the al Qaeda terrorist network “in greater detail than he has before.”
“He will talk about how [al Qaeda] is a group of people that have a very clear strategy for driving us out of the Middle East, for creating a safe haven in the Middle East — a safe haven from which they can plan and plot attacks on the rest of the civilized world and a safe haven from which they can seek to overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East,” McClellan said.
McClellan said the address “is not a speech on Iraq,” but Bush “will talk about Iraq in the context of the broader war on terrorism.”
It will be interesting to see what the president has to say, although I can’t imagine he will offer anything those of us who follow the war closely would consider “new.” And a speech during the work day hardly seems the way to shore up public support for an increasingly unpopular war.
Further, we’re two and a half years into this war. The time to persuade the public that this war is a necessary part of the larger war against Islamist terrorists is surely past.