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Bush Plans for Iraq Meet With Mixed Reviews

  • Sean Maroney

President Bush's annual State of the Union speech is getting mixed reviews both at home and abroad. And as VOA's Sean Maroney reports, the biggest debate centers on Mr. Bush's plans for Iraq.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a nonbinding resolution, calling President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq "not in the national interest."

Democratic Senator Joseph Biden heads the committee. "This is not designed to say, 'Mr. President, you're wrong.' This is designed to say, 'Mr. President, please don't go do this."

In his speech to Congress Tuesday night, President Bush defended his plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. He said these reinforcements would help restore security in the country.

But Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is hesitant about sending more troops. "This is a ping-pong game with American lives. We better be damn sure we know what we're doing -- all of us -- before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder," said Mr. Hagel.

The committee's leading Republican, Senator Richard Lugar, says he fears the resolution will send the wrong message. He voted against the measure that now faces debate in the full Senate. "This vote will force nothing on the president, but it will confirm to our friends and allies that we are divided and in disarray."

Iraqi politicians also are divided on Mr. Bush's plans for their country.

Christian lawmaker Younadim Kana backs the president's plan: "The 20,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army will help our security institutions like police and army to be built first of all and to do their duty."

But a senior aide to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Yousif al-Nasiri, criticizes Mr. Bush. He says the president didn't offer anything new for Iraq. "There is no strategy, there is no policy, and there is nothing there in his speech."

President Bush also drew criticism about Lebanon when he said that Hezbollah tries to undermine the country's government.

Hezbollah lawmaker Nawar al-Saheli said, "When we hear Mr. Bush saying that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, more than 60 or 70 or maybe 80 percent of the Lebanese people will laugh when they hear this, because Hezbollah represents a big part of the Lebanese people."

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