President Bush pauses for a question during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Dec. 7 in Washington.
Senior aides said Sunday that the president will finally apply benchmarks to Iraq—only not for the withdrawal of troops. Bush will offer the guidelines to Iraq’s political leadership in an attempt to ease sectarian tension.
Meanwhile, the military’s new Iraq commander is preparing for an influx of troops, expected to accompany the White House’s policy revision.
When Congress and the American people consider Bush’s new strategy, we think it’s best they take his own advice: “Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you ... you fool me once, can’t get fooled again.”
New York Times:
Among these “benchmarks” are steps that would draw more Sunnis into the political process, finalize a long-delayed measure on the distribution of oil revenue and ease the government’s policy toward former Baath Party members, the officials said.
As the policy is being debated in Washington, the new American operational commander in Iraq said Sunday that his plan was to send additional American troops, expected to be part of the policy change, into Baghdad’s toughest neighborhoods, and that under the new strategy it may take another “two or three years” to gain the upper hand in the war. [Page A9.]
Without saying what the specific penalties for failing to achieve the goals would be, American officials insisted that they intended to hold the Iraqis to a realistic timetable for action, but the Americans and Iraqis have agreed on many of the objectives before, only to fall considerably short.
And the widespread skepticism about the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy among Democrats and some Republicans was underscored by the new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, in a television interview broadcast Sunday. She, along with the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, informed the president that they were opposed to increasing troop levels.