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Iraq Occupation 'Going Better than Many Americans Think,' claims Bush - 2003-10-11


President Bush says the U.S. occupation of Iraq is going better than many Americans think. The president used his weekly radio address to focus again on the positives, amid growing public concern over near-daily attacks against U.S. troops.

Six months after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush says, Iraq is moving from tyranny toward self-government.

With opinion polls showing a majority of Americans now questioning whether the invasion was worth it, the Bush administration has launched a public relations offensive to build popular support for the occupation and the president's request for another $87 billion to help pay for it.

Mr. Bush says the money will make America safer for years to come.

"Americans are providing this help not only because our hearts are good, but because our vision is clear," the president said. "A stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq will no longer be a breeding ground for terror, tyranny and aggression. And a free Iraq will be an example of freedom's power throughout the Middle East. Free nations are peaceful nations. By promoting freedom and hope in other lands, we remove direct threats to the American people."

The president says the U.S.-led coalition is on the offensive against Saddam loyalists and terrorists, who continue to attack foreign troops, and Iraqis who cooperate with them.

With U.S. assistance, Mr. Bush says, Iraqis are rebuilding roads and ports and railways. He says the coalition has helped establish an independent Iraqi central bank, and will introduce a new currency in the coming week that he says will help stabilize the country's economy.

Working with the Iraqi Governing Council, President Bush says, U.S. officials are establishing a new system, allowing foreigners to invest in Iraq's future with confidence. They have also helped restore Iraqi oil production capacity to nearly two million barrels a day, the benefits of which, Mr. Bush says, are flowing directly to the Iraqi people.

The president says he is committed to expanding international cooperation in Iraq with a draft U.N. resolution meant to encourage more countries to send troops and money to Iraq.

But Mr. Bush is still facing considerable mistrust at the United Nations, after his decision to invade Iraq without Security Council approval.

Congressional Democrats say the president's inability to get more foreign partners to help bear the costs in Iraq is placing too much of a burden on U.S. taxpayers. In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, Indiana Congressman Baron Hill says the invasion was well planned, but the effort to rebuild Iraq was not.

"There has been little support from the international community. Our troops have been taking almost all the risks, and American taxpayers have been paying all the bills. To be successful, the president's 'go-it-alone' strategy must end," he said.

Congressman Hill says Mr. Bush should be mindful of domestic priorities, before spending more U.S. taxpayer money overseas.

"It is fantasy for us to believe that we can fund a war and a reconstruction effort," he said, "and at the same time, provide adequate resources for homeland security, health care, education and debt reduction - all the while staring at an annual deficit approaching a half-a-trillion dollars, a record-setting figure."

President Bush called on Congress to approve his $87 billion request soon, so what he called the vital work in Iraq can proceed. The full Senate and House of Representatives are expected to consider the bill in the coming week.