- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 30, 2006

For the second straight day, President Bush yesterday took aim at Democrats who he said have flip-flopped on the global war against terrorism, and urged Americans to support his strategy and oppose “critics who change their positions.”

“From the beginning, the American people have heard the critics say we’re failing — but their reasons keep changing,” the president said in a speech.

“In the first days of Operation Enduring Freedom, the critics warned that we were heading toward a ‘quagmire.’ And then when the Taliban fell, and operations began in Iraq, the critics held up the multinational coalition in Afghanistan as a model, and said it showed that everything we were doing in Iraq was wrong.

“And now some of the critics who praised the multinational coalition we built in Afghanistan claim that the country is in danger of failing because we don’t have enough American troops there.”

Mr. Bush said to win the ideological struggle of the 21st century leaders need to change tactics to meet conditions on the ground — not in response to the constantly changing positions of critics.

Democrats, however, rejected Mr. Bush’s criticism.

“President Bush’s election-year attacks are the product of a desperate White House with no credibility left with the American people,” said Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California said, “It was yet another example of how he is in denial over what is happening in the war on terror.”

But Mr. Bush quoted British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he said terrorism “is not our fault. You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism.”

“If that ever becomes the mind-set of the policy-makers in Washington, it means we’ll go back to the old days of waiting to be attacked — and then respond,” Mr. Bush, apparently referring to former President Bill Clinton.

During his speech to the Reserve Officers Association that focused on U.S. efforts to spur Pakistan and Afghanistan toward greater freedom, the president acknowledged setbacks in both countries but called on Americans to be patient.

“The training of the Afghan police has not gone as smoothly as the army,” Mr. Bush said, citing “corruption and substandard leadership.” But he said, “We’ve made our concerns known … When we see a problem, we adjust, we change.”

The president, who met earlier in the week with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also applauded NATO’s decision this week to take over command of all peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush also met last week in the White House with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf, who he praised yesterday for helping to hunt down terrorists along the remote Pakistani-Afghan border. Mr. Bush said a major offensive in five eastern Afghan provinces was putting the Taliban on the defensive.



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