Study Group to Call for Iraq Withdrawals; Bush Remains Obstinate
The Iraq Study Group has apparently reached a consensus and will recommend a gradual pullback of U.S. forces in Iraq, though without a timetable. But after meeting with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday, President Bush was already dismissive of the suggestion: “We’re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done as long as the government wants us there.”
Bush also scoffed at the idea of partitioning Iraq and in the past has argued against the panel’s other major suggestion: holding direct talks with Iran and Syria.
Though he may ultimately disagree with the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations, repeating “get the job done” is an alternative military strategy unlikely to carry much weight with the American people.
New York Times:
“I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq,” the president said during a joint news conference with Mr. Maliki, referring to the panel’s reports that are expected next week. “We’re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done as long as the government wants us there.”
Mr. Bush also said he and Mr. Maliki would oppose any plan to break up the country, which is riven by sectarian violence. The two appeared together after an hourlong breakfast meeting with aides at the Four Seasons Hotel [in Amman, Jordan] that was followed by a 45-minute one-on-one session.
“The prime minister made clear that splitting his country into parts, as some have suggested, is not what the Iraqi people want, and that any partition in Iraq would only lead to an increase of sectarian violence,” Mr. Bush said, adding, “I agree.”
The two leaders set no timetable for speeding up the training of Iraqi forces, which Mr. Bush described as evolving “from ground zero,” and a senior administration official, who attended the breakfast and was granted anonymity to discuss it, said hurdles remain.
“This is not a simple process of passing the baton,” the official said, adding, “This is not the United States and Iraq struggling for control of the steering wheel. This is the United States wanting Iraq to be firmly with the steering wheel in its hand, and the issue is, how do we get there as quickly as possible.”