CRAWFORD, Texas &
President Bush said Saturday that Iraqis are sacrificing dearly to secure their country, trying to underscore that the U.S. is not bearing the toll alone.
"Here at home, it can be easy to overlook the bravery shown by Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians who are in the fight for freedom," Bush said in a radio address taped at his ranch in central Texas. "But our troops on the ground see it every day."
Bush told the story of an Iraqi man who stepped forward to intercept a suicide bomber who was running for a team of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens near Baghdad. The bomber and the Iraqi man died as the bomb detonated, but the soldiers and citizens were spared.
A citizens group, Bush said, tipped off police about the location of an al-Qaida cell believed responsible for the attack, which lead to arrests.
Bush's positive take on Iraq's internal efforts comes as lawmakers and the broader public in the U.S. have grown deeply frustrated over Iraq's inability to improve its affairs.
"As security improves, more Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy," Bush said. "Young Iraqi men are signing up for the army. Iraqi police are now patrolling the streets. Coalition and Iraqi forces have doubled the number of joint operations."
Bush's address comes days after he compared the Iraq war to Vietnam &
linking the U.S. pullout back then to the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and warning that withdrawing troops now could have similarly disastrous consequences.
Former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm while serving in Vietnam, said Bush is ignoring the facts to again try to sell the Iraq war.
Despite enormous sacrifice by Americans, Cleland said in his party's radio address, "We find ourselves mired in a civil war with no end in sight and Iraqis unable or unwilling to make the political decisions necessary to end this conflict."
Earlier in the week, a bleak assessment by the U.S. intelligence community found that the Iraqi government is hampered by rampant violence and deep sectarian differences. It bluntly reported, "To date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively."
Bush's strategy this year was to build up U.S. forces in Iraq and give the country's leaders the security and time they need to make fundamental political progress. Bush is awaiting a pivotal report in September on how much progress has been made with the buildup.
"We cannot expect the new strategy we are carrying out to bring success overnight," he said in another plea for patience from the nation. "But by standing with the Iraqi people as they build their democracy, we will deliver a devastating blow to al-Qaida, we will help provide new hope for millions of people throughout the Middle East, we will gain a friend and ally in the war on terror, and we will make the American people safer."
Bush's radio address capped an active week in which he appeared to distance himself from embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, only to endorse Maliki the next day; delivered a speech in which he likened today's fight against extremism to past conflicts in Japan, Korea and Vietnam; and dealt with the release of the sobering intelligence estimate.
That estimate found that Iraq's security will continue to "improve modestly" over the next six to 12 months, provided that coalition forces mount strong counterinsurgency operations and mentor Iraqi forces. But even then, it said, violence levels will remain high as the country struggles to achieve national political reconciliation.
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Bush says Iraqis sacrificing for their country, but Democrats see a civil war with no end
CRAWFORD, Texas &