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Bush Administration Defends War in Iraq

The Bush administration continues to defend the war in Iraq ahead of a report to Congress next month on progress there. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports that, two days after truck bombings that killed at least 400 Iraqis, presidential spokesman Tony Snow defended the war in an address in New York.

With President Bush on his Texas ranch, White House Spokesman Tony Snow went to New York to again outline the administration's plans for success in Iraq.

In a speech to the Hudson Institute think tank, Snow said the debate in Washington should not be about how to leave Iraq but how to win there.

"The establishment of a stable democracy in Iraq would serve as the ultimate refutation of the philosophy, the means, and the methods of the terror movement," he said. "There they will have tried their very best using weaponry, using the instruments of terror, trying to argue throughout the world that they have a better way, and they will have been humiliated because people will have said to them, 'Sorry. You were wrong.'"

Snow said the president's decision to send more troops to Iraq this year is beginning to show signs of progress despite what he acknowledges are considerable political and security challenges.

Truck bombs Tuesday's in two northern villages were the deadliest coordinated attacks in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion more than four years ago. Iraq's interior ministry says at least 400 people were killed in those attacks. The U.S. military command in Baghdad has blamed al-Qaida for the bombings, saying they are meant to undermine a sense of progress that U.S. and Iraqi forces are creating.

Progress will be key to the president's September 15 report to Congress at a time when the latest CBS News poll shows more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling the war.

Opposition Democrats in Congress are pushing for a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal. That measure failed earlier this year when enough of the president's supporters agreed to give his plan more time to work.

But some of those Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are making clear that they expect next month's report to affect war planning.

Snow is engaged in a campaign to convince Republicans that now is not the time to start second-guessing the president. Snow says failure in Iraq would spread "waves of chaos" through the region and America would lose the respect of allies.

"It's ludicrous to think that if the United States simply walked away, the world would become a safer place. A U.S. retreat would mark a victory for al-Qaida far more momentous than what it achieved on September 11, 2001, and it would vindicate Osama bin Laden's prediction that the way to beat the Americans is to wait them out because the Americans are not going to be able to stay the course," he said.

National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe says Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus will testify publicly before Congress ahead of the September report. Johndroe says the men will report to the American people about what they see on the ground in Iraq.