President Bush announced plans Wednesday night to escalate the war in Iraq and send over 20,000 more troops. He said he took responsibility for past mistakes but that more troops are needed to pacify Baghdad and other parts of the country. The president also threatened military action against Iran and Syria. We play excerpts of his address. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: As President Bush announced plans last night to escalate the war in Iraq and send over 20,000 more troops, he also threatened direct military action against Iran and Syria. The president announced the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region and vowed to seek out and destroy those who are providing material support to U.S. enemies in Iraq.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
We’re also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
AMY GOODMAN: Hours after the president spoke, U.S. forces raided the Iranian Consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. The troops broke into the office, seized documents and computers, and arrested five employees. On Iraq, President Bush said he takes responsibility for past mistakes, but says more troops are needed to pacify Baghdad and other parts of the country.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I’ve committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them — five brigades — will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.
AMY GOODMAN: The troop increase has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad Wednesday. During his speech, President Bush openly rejected calls from Democrats on Capitol Hill to begin withdrawing troops.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore our policy should focus on protecting Iraq’s borders and hunting down al-Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America’s efforts in Baghdad or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals, and we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush speaking last night, escalating the war in Iraq.