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White House Defends Iraq Strategy


President Bush says he will implement his revised Iraq strategy despite substantial Congressional opposition. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House, the president and his top aides are defending his plan in a series of interviews on national television.

President Bush makes the case for his new plan in an interview recorded for broadcast late Sunday on one of the most popular news programs on American television - CBS's 60 Minutes.

In an excerpt from the interview aired earlier by the network on Face the Nation, he is asked about Congressional opposition to his decision to send more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq. Mr. Bush says he believes he has the authority to go ahead and order the deployments, even if Congress does not approve.

"I think I have got it in this situation," he said. "Yes. And I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I have made my decision and I am going forward.

Earlier, Vice-President Dick Cheney underscored the president's resolve during an appearance on the Fox News Sunday program.

"The president is the commander-in-chief," said Cheney. "He is the one who has to make these tough decisions. He is the one who has got to decide how to use the force, where to deploy the force."

Cheney said Congress should have a say, in large part because it approves federal spending. But he made clear the ultimate authority lies with the president.

"Congress obviously has to support the effort through the power of the purse," he added. "So they have got a role to play, and we certainly recognize that. But you cannot run a war by committee."

War opponents in Congress say the president's Iraq policy has not worked, and charge the administration's revised strategy, in effect, offers more of the same.

Among them is Senator Barak Obama, an Illinois Democrat, who told the CBS program Face the Nation that more should be done to pressure the various factions in Iraq to come together, and that an escalation of the U.S. military presence overlooks the need for a political solution.

"We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality, we can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops, and I do not know of any expert on the region or any military officer that I have spoken to privately that believes that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground," said Obama.

But the president's plan does have its supporters in the legislature. They include Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has long urged the Bush administration to send more troops to Iraq.

He told Face the Nation the president's revised strategy may be the last chance to succeed. He said the only other option is to leave, and that would be a catastrophe.

"It is a catastrophe in the form of increased Iranian influence," said McCain. "The Saudis are going to have to support the Sunnis. The Kurds are going to have increased problems with Turkey. The list goes on and on and the bloodletting will increase."

Top Democrats have indicated they want the legislature to take up a resolution that, while not binding on the president, would be a clear statement of disapproval of the administration's Iraq policy.

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