President Bush has restated his opposition to any timetable for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, continuing a showdown with opposition Democrats over funding of the war. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from the White House, where Mr. Bush met with the top U.S. commander in Iraq Monday.
With rhetoric growing more heated with every passing day, President Bush traded verbal barbs with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who remains determined to send Mr. Bush a war funding bill with target dates for pulling most troops out of Iraq.
Reid released excerpts from a speech in which he accused the president of being in a state of denial over Iraq, and said the Democratic-led Congress will show him the way towards a new strategy for the country.
After meeting with the commander of the Iraq war, General David Petraeus, Mr. Bush fired back at the senator.
"I believe strongly that politicians in Washington should not be telling generals how to do their job," said Mr. Bush.
The President repeated his contention that setting a withdrawal date for U.S. military forces in Iraq would be disastrous for both nations.
"An artificial timetable of withdrawal would say to an enemy, 'just wait them out.' It would say to the Iraqis, 'do not do hard things necessary to achieve our objectives,' and it would be discouraging to our troops," he added.
Mr. Bush acknowledged that Iraq continues to be plagued by what he termed "horrific violence." But he insisted that the ongoing build-up of U.S. forces in Iraq is showing some signs of progress in alleviating sectarian strife and giving the Iraqi government, as he put it, "breathing space" to consolidate democratic rule.
That assertion is fiercely contested by many Democrats, who say the surge is merely deepening a strategy that has already failed. Democrats like Senator Reid say what Iraq desperately needs is a political solution among its warring factions, but that the impetus for compromise is lessened if Iraqis believe U.S. forces will remain indefinitely.
President Bush has promised to veto any war funding bill that contains a withdrawal timetable. The Pentagon says it urgently needs an infusion of new funds to continue operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.