- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 25, 2003


For the fourth week in a row, President Bush devoted his weekly radio address to Iraq, saying yesterday that billions of dollars in new aid from other countries will provide momentum for rebuilding the nation.

“This growing financial support will allow us to build on the success of the broad military coalition already serving in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said.

But a top Democrat said other countries aren’t contributing enough to rebuilding “because the White House squandered the reservoir of the world’s goodwill that we had immediately after [the] September 11th [attacks].”

“If we are going to succeed in rebuilding Iraq, we need to build a real coalition, based on respect for our allies, to share the burden,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont said in the Democrats’ weekly radio address.

Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Leahy found grist for their arguments in a conference in Madrid meant to round up contributions for Iraq.

Nations from Japan to Saudi Arabia pledged $13 billion in new aid on top of more than $20 billion from the United States.

“In Madrid, representatives of more than 70 nations and international bodies — including the World Bank, UNICEF, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference — gathered to discuss the future needs of Iraq, and the ways in which other countries can help,” Mr. Bush said. “And these nations and international organizations pledged billions of dollars to aid the reconstruction of Iraq.”

But the figure fell well short of the estimated $56 billion needed to rebuild the country, and much came in the form of loans that could saddle Iraq with new debts.

“As we are seeing right now at the conference on Iraq in Spain, we are having to shoulder more than our share of the risks to our troops and the costs of the war and its aftermath,” Mr. Leahy said.

Mr. Bush typically uses his weekly radio address to emphasize a theme the White House is promoting.

In August, for instance, the broadcasts covered the economy twice, Iraq, wildfire prevention, and the war on terrorism.

By using the forum for four straight addresses on Iraq, Mr. Bush showed the depth of his concern over public opinion on Iraq.

Each of the last four radio addresses has included lengthy passages on progress in Iraq, sections meant to counter the growing criticism from Democrats and some in the media who say postwar conditions have worsened in that country.

The radio address is broadcast in its entirety by stations across the country, allowing Mr. Bush to largely bypass the news media “filter” he complains is unfairly emphasizing bad news.

The president focused on the positive news he has highlighted in recent weeks.

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