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Early Iraq withdrawal would be terrible mistake: Bush
November 30, 2005 14:03 IST
Amidst a raging debate over troop withdrawal from Iraq, United States President George W Bush has said a decision on the matter would be taken based on the capability of Iraqis to fight the insurgents and recommendations of commanders on the ground.
"We will make decisions about troops levels based upon the capability of the Iraqis to take the fight to the enemy. I will make decisions on the level of troops based upon the recommendations of commanders on the ground," Bush said on Tuesday in El Paso, Texas.
Bush's comments assume significance as they come ahead of a major policy address on Iraq at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday.
At the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seconded his commander-in-chief essentially by making the argument that quitting the war will allow the insurgents to prevail and place the United States at still greater risk.
"Quitting is not an exit strategy," Rumsfeld said.
The war in Iraq is taking a heavy political toll on Bush with his approval rating as President at the lowest level in the last five years. And there have been growing calls in Congress even from conservatives on both sides of the aisle that it was time for America to start the winding down the process in Iraq.
However, Bush insisted that he will listen to his commanders in the field.
"If they tell me that the Iraqis are ready to take more and more responsibility and that we will be able to bring some Americans home, I will do that," the President said.
"It's their recommendation. Secondly, we want to win," Bush said, adding, "The whole objective is to achieve victory against terrorists. I am interested in winning. I want to defeat the terrorists. And I want our troops to come home."
"But I do not want them to come home without having achieved victory. We have got a strategy for victory," he said.
Bush stressed that people did not want him to make decisions based on politics.
"Now I know there are lot of voices in Washington. We have heard some people say pull them out right now. That is a huge mistake. It will be a terrible mistake and will send a bad message to our troops. It also sends a bad message to the Iraqis," he said.Democracy can't be established by force