Monday, September 8, 2008
Tiny troop cut shows Bush still thinks he got it right
Word out of Washington that U.S. President George W. Bush plans tomorrow to announce a troop cut of 8,000 in Iraq shows that even after five years of war and the rejuvenation of the Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan, the president still clings to the idea that deposing Saddam Hussein after the Sept. 11 attacks was the right thing to do. Bush plans to tell the country tomorrow that the troop withdrawal, from a U.S. force of 146,000 soldiers, is possible because of a reduction of violence in Iraq, according to the Reuters international news service. "While the enemy in Iraq is still dangerous, we have seized the offensive, and Iraqi forces are becoming increasingly capable of leading and winning the fight," Bush plans to say at the National Defense University, Reuters said. "And if the progress in Iraq continues to hold, Gen. [David] Petraeus and our military leaders believe additional reductions will be possible in the first half of 2009." An 2007 increase in troops by 30,000, known as Bush's "surge" strategy, is credited with helping to calm the often-volatile situation in Iraq. But Bush had been warned repeatedly that the Iraq invasion force was too small to adequately police the country, a prediction that proved correct. Bush conceded the point in 2007 when he implemented the so-called "surge." Bush also said he planned to shift additional troops to Afghanistan, where the war on terror apparently should have been fought in the first place. The United States has 33,000 troops in Afghanistan along with a NATO force, but the Taliban have regrouped anyway, appear to control large portions of the countryside and are stepping up attacks.