Arguing directly against liberal politicians and pundits who are criticizing Washingtons course in Iraq, the defense secretary quipped, Sitting around wringing your hands and saying, Its horrible, its horrible, everything is terrible is nonsense. It isnt all terrible. Theres some darn good stuff happening. He listed the formation of the U.S.-handpicked Iraqi Governing Council, the introduction of a new currency, the opening of a Central Bank, and the reopening of schools and hospitals as accomplishments of the U.S.-run regime.
Referring to the U.S. casualties that morning, Rumsfeld stated later on ABCs This Week with George Stephanopoulos television show: In a long, hard war, were going to have tragic days, as this is. But they are necessary. They are part of a war thats difficult and complicated.
During a number of lengthy interviews that morning, Rumsfeld said that U.S. officers are making progress in stabilizing the occupation, and have no plans to bolster the number of U.S. troops. Rather, he said, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police, who function under U.S. command, are shouldering more of the security burden.
In a speech the next day to employees of Craneworks, a small business in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. president George Bush spoke along similar lines, without even mentioning the downing of the U.S. helicopter in Fallujah. We will win the war on terror, theres no doubt in my mind. We will not rest, we will not tire, Bush said. The terrorists and the killers and those who harbor terrorists cannot stand the thought of a free society in their midst. Thats why the mission in Iraq is vital…. Well defeat the terrorists there so we dont have to face them on our own streets.
The enemy in Iraq believes America will run, thats why theyre willing to kill innocent civilians, relief workers, coalition troops, he said. America will never run. America will do what is necessary to make our country more secure.
Attacks on the U.S.-led forces run as high as two or three dozen a day, said Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq. While Iraqi civilians have been the worst hit, casualties among U.S. soldiers have mounted. Since May 1, when Bush declared combat operations over, the death toll among U.S. forces has risen to 238nearly double the 139 killed during the invasion. There are no official estimates for the number of Iraqi dead or wounded.
Rumsfeld, Bush, and other officials have aggressively defended their administrations course after scoring several victories over their international and domestic critics last month. These included the October 16 unanimous vote of the United Nations Security Council legitimizing the U.S.-run regime in Iraq, and Congresss approval down to the last penny of the $87 billion requested by Bush to fund the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The debate continues in ruling-class circles, however, even as those who argue that Iraq has become a quagmire have suffered political blows. The New York Times, a consistent voice of the liberal opposition, carried a feature article in its November 2 Sunday magazine entitled Blueprint for a Mess: How the Bush administrations prewar planners bungled postwar Iraq.
The papers conservative columnist, William Safire, expressed a different view the next day. The coalition is clearly winning on two of the three war fronts, he wrote. The people of Iraqs Shiite south and Kurdish north80 percent of the population of 23 millionare making substantial progress toward reconstruction and self-governance. But the battle within the Sunni triangle around Baghdadwhere Saddams rapacious sons and secret police long victimized other Iraqisis not yet won.
On November 2, Democratic senator Joseph Biden called for more troops to be sent to Iraq while a local army and police force is trained, even if such a step proved very, very unpopular in the United States. He added, We have to be prepared to go back to our European friends and say, We need more help. Were willing to give you more say in the formation of this government.
Responding to such arguments, Rumsfeld told NBC that in recent months occupying forces have trained up to 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and police. He cited the deaths of 85 of them as evidence of their participation in patrols. In addition, he said, London and other governments have maintained a stable number of 30,000 troops. These two developments have enabled the Pentagon to reduce its forces from 150,000 to 130,000, he said.
Bush and Rumsfeld both said that the attacks on U.S. forces are carried out primarily by remnants of the brutal Baath Party dictatorship of Saddam Hussein who are active in the triangle between Baghdad and areas north of the Iraqi capital, but have little influence elsewhere. They have also accused Iran and Syria of letting foreign terrorists enter Iraq through their territory.
British and French government officials have backed Bushs claims that foreigners are part of the attacks. According to the New York Times, French investigative judge Louis Bruguière said dozens of poor and middle-class Muslim men had left France for Iraq since the summer.
Meanwhile, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin said he opposed pulling out of Iraq now after a meeting of foreign ministers from Europe and Africa. De Villepin, who had argued against the U.S.-UK invasion as a spokesman for French imperialism, said, Obviously a pullout from Iraq today would be catastrophic and would absolutely not correspond to the demands of the situation.
In debates in the UN Security Council during the buildup to the war, De Villepin had argued that UN inspections and sanctions should be used instead of an invasion.
According to former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who surrendered to U.S. troops April 24, Pariss stance contributed to convincing Hussein that the imperialist invasion plans would not come to fruition. The November 3 Washington Post reported that Aziz told U.S. interrogators that representatives of both Paris and Moscow had told the Iraqi ruler they would use their veto power in the UN Security Council to block approval for an invasion.
According to Aziz, the Post said, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first…. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow.
War party on the ascent
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