Despite increasing opposition, President Bush vowed last night to escalate the war in Iraq and proceed with his plan to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq. He urged Congress to give his new Iraq strategy “a chance to work.” [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Despite increasing opposition, President Bush vowed last night to escalate the war in Iraq and proceed with his plan to send more than 21,000 troops to Iraq. He urged Congress to give his new Iraq strategy “a chance to work.” Speaking about the so-called war on terror, President Bush said the United States would remain at war until the evil that inspired 9/11 no longer exists. The president mentioned Iran five times and accused it of funding Shiite militants in Iraq as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon.
As for Iraq, the president warned the United States will face a “nightmare scenario” if the military’s mission in Iraq fails.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching. If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran and Sunni extremists aided by al-Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country, and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally — their greatest ally — in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.
AMY GOODMAN: After President Bush gave his State of the Union address, newly elected Senator Jim Webb of Virginia gave the Democrats official response.
SEN. JIM WEBB: We need a new direction, not one step back from the war against international terrorism , not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos, but an immediate shift toward strong, regionally based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.