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Bush announces more US troops bound for Iraq -

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ALI MOORE: Welcome to the program, I'm Ali Moore. Almost four years after sending troops into
Baghdad and after more than 3,000 US military deaths, George W. Bush has delivered his long awaited
strategy on Iraq. And the line is escalate, not exit. In a national televised address the President
declared he would send more than 20,000 new troops into combat, deploying the majority in and
around the Iraqi capital, where much of the bloody insurgency is centred. He also announced another
bold goal for Iraq to resume control of its own security by November. But there was no mention of a
Plan B if they fail to achieve this. The new strategy is in defiance of a hostile Congress and
criticism from within the Republican Party and the military top brass. And it comes despite the mid
term congressional elections in November that were widely seen as a public backlash against the
administration's Iraq policy. The question now is, will the change of course bring America any
closer to success? Shortly I'll be talking to a defence analyst in Washington, but first this
report from our North America correspondent, Tracy Bowden.

TRACY BOWDEN: In what is considered one of the most important speeches of his Presidency, George W.
Bush made it clear he may have steered away from the term "stay the course", but he's still
focussed on victory in Iraq.

GEORGE W BUSH, US PRESIDENT: The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in
Iraq and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: He believes he's doing the right thing now. He's deeply
disappointed and discouraged by the lack of progress, even acknowledges apparently now the failures
that have been made, but is still determined to stick with it and find a way to victory. This is
all about George W. Bush.

GEORGE W BUSH: The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people, and it is unacceptable
to me.

TRACY BOWDEN: As widely predicted ahead of the speech, the new strategy calls for extra US troops
in Iraq; 21,500 more, at a cost of more than $7 billion. Also, a $1 billion economic reconstruction
program.

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CENTRE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: It's the political dimension that is tearing the
country apart, and there is no military solution unless the Iraqis are much more active than
they've been to date.

TRACY BOWDEN: Defence analyst Anthony Cordesman believes the critical part of the strategy is not
so much the extra troops, but the deal the President has struck with Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al
Maliki.

ANTHONY CORDESMAN: 20,000 more men and women cannot by themselves win in a city of more than five
million people and they certainly can't hold, you can't occupy space, you can't keep insurgents and
militias from reinfiltrating. You have to have this coupled to the presence of Iraqi forces. They
have to be the ones who hold.

GEORGE W BUSH: If the Iraqi Government does not follow through on its promises it will lose the
support of the American people, and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time
to act.

TRACY BOWDEN: The new strategy calls for greater involvement by Iraqi troops, who will take the
lead in a final push to quell the insurgency, and it sets a November deadline for the country to
resume control of its own security. The plan also lays out a series of benchmarks for the Iraqi
Government, aimed at improving political and economic stability. These include regional elections
and introducing a plan to spread oil revenue throughout the country.

THOMAS MANN: There are a lot of members of the public and many members of Congress - increasingly,
Republican members of Congress - who are very sceptical of this package having any success;
certainly, any more success than previous packages have had.

TRACY BOWDEN: Analyst Thomas Mann from the Brookings Institution believes the plan might have made
a difference at the start of the war, but not now.

THOMAS MANN: All this time has passed, almost four years, and it can't be undone with these kind of
incremental increases in troops and additional political pressure. It's too late.

GEORGE W BUSH: My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early
stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave
danger.

TRACY BOWDEN: That was March 2003, and as the troops rolled into Baghdad the hope was that it was
going to be quick and clean. Just a couple of months later, the ultimate photo opportunity on board
the USS Abraham Lincoln, as the President declared the combat phase of the mission over.

GEORGE W BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States
and our allies have prevailed.

TRACY BOWDEN: As the conflict stretched from months into years, the sectarian violence worsened. US
military deaths moved into the thousands, and the President's approval rating slumped. But the
commander in chief stood firm.

GEORGE W BUSH: We will succeed in Iraq. We're carrying out a decision that has already been made
and will not change. Iraq will be a free, independent country and America and the Middle East will
be safer because of it.

TRACY BOWDEN: But by the end of last year, after the Republicans took a thumping in the mid term
elections, as Americans expressed their disapproval of the handling of the war, the President
accepted the need to find a new way forward. And tonight he also accepted responsibility for
mistakes made during the conflict.

GEORGE W BUSH: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed, for two principal reasons. There were not
enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighbourhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and
insurgents, and there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

TRACY BOWDEN: There is a sense out there of "nothing seems to have worked so far" - why should the
public have any faith that there is really an answer, that victory is possible?

ANTHONY CORDESMAN: Well, we're talking about some process where instant success was never likely.
The question is, can the President admit that? Can he go from a broad speech to the kind of follow
up that will convince the Congress and the American people not that there's any certainty of
success, but enough of a reasonable prospect to take the risks?

TRACY BOWDEN: Politically the President also has a battle on his hand. The Democrats, who now
control both Houses of Congress, are opposed to any increase in troops and are calling for a vote
before Congress prior to any escalation of the conflict.

SENATOR DICK DURBIN, DEMOCRAT: The Iraqis must understand that they alone can lead their nation to
freedom, they alone must meet the challenges that lie ahead and they must know that every time they
call 911 we are not going to send 20,000 more American soldiers.

TRACY BOWDEN: In the end, is it the fact that the decider will still decide?

THOMAS MANN: Listen, a determined President in the last two years of his Presidency who doesn't
care about his political standing in the public, who doesn't care about his party's future stakes,
can hold to his policy and probably avoid having funds cut off, but he and his party will pay a
heavy price.

TRACY BOWDEN: And the President has foreshadowed more grim news out of Iraq in the coming year.

GEORGE W BUSH: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience and they will make the
year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of
violence will continue...

TRACY BOWDEN: Now George W. Bush has to sell the plan not just to Congress but to the American
people, convincing them that this new way forward is worth the cost, not just in money, but in
lives.

ANTHONY CORDESMAN: This is either his opportunity to be successful in historical terms, or to be
seen as a failed President having led a failed Presidency. That is important. Will we know next
month? No. Will we know from the congressional action? Probably not. Will the course of the
fighting and the political facts on the ground in Iraq between now and December determine the
outcome? The answer to that is probably yes.