- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2007

WASHINGTON Iraq has achieved only spotty military and political progress toward a democratic society, the Bush administration conceded today, an unenthusiastic assessment followed quickly by a House vote to withdraw U.S. troops by spring.

The measure passed 223-201 despite a veto threat from President Bush, who has ruled out any change in war policy before September.

“The security situation in Iraq remains complex and extremely challenging,” the report concluded. The economic picture is uneven, it said, and the government has not yet enacted vital political reconciliation legislation.

As many as 80 suicide bombers per month cross into the country from Syria, added the interim assessment, which is to be followed by a fuller accounting in September from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in the region.

“I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must,” Bush said at a White House news conference at which he stressed the interim nature of the report.

Describing a document produced by his administration at Congress’ insistence, he said there was satisfactory progress by the Iraqi government toward meeting eight of 18 so-called benchmarks, unsatisfactory progress on eight more and mixed results on the others.

To his critics including an increasing number of Republicans he said bluntly, “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding the troops.”

Democrats saw it differently.

A few hours after Bush’s remarks, Democratic leaders engineered passage of legislation requiring the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops to begin within 120 days, and to be completed by April 1, 2008. The measure envisions a limited residual force to train Iraqis, protect U.S. assets and fight al-Qaida and other terrorists.

“The report makes clear that not even the White House can conclude there has been significant progress,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

To Bush and others who seek more time for the administration’s policy to work, she said, “We have already waited too long.”

Republicans sided with Bush at least for now. The bill “undermines Gen. Petraeus, undermines the mission he has to make America and Iraq safe,” said the House GOP leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. “What we have here is not leadership, it’s negligence.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide