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Bush Continues to Defend Iraq Plan


U.S. President George Bush says he understands there is opposition to his sending more troops to Iraq, but he is confident his plan will succeed in improving security. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush met with leaders of his Republican Party in Congress, asking for their support on a series of domestic issues and defending his decision to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

"I told the American people I fully understand there are differences of opinion," he said. "But one of the things I have discovered is, in Washington, D.C., most people understand the consequences of failure. And if failure is not an option, then it's up to the president to come up with a plan that is more likely to succeed. And I spent a lot of time on the subject, because I understand how serious the issue is. And the plan I outlined to the American people is one that I believe can succeed."

The president outlined that plan in the weeks before his State of the Union address, saying it also includes holding the Iraqi government to specific benchmarks for improving security and political cooperation.

Public opinion polls say a majority of Americans believe sending more troops to Iraq is a mistake. The plan has met near-unanimous opposition from Democrats who now control both houses of Congress and has also been criticized by some members of Congress within the president's own party.

He told House Republican leaders that there is still an enemy that wants to strike America, and the best way to defend the nation is to stay on the offense.

As he did in Tuesday's State of the Union, Mr. Bush said defeating totalitarianism in the long run is best done by offering a more hopeful ideology based on human rights and human dignity.

He said Americans will never forget the importance of freedom in Cuba, Burma, and Belarus and again vowed to rally the international community to end the suffering of people in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

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