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Iraq troop withdrawal not big enough: Democra -

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Iraq troop withdrawal not big enough: Democrats

AM - Thursday, 13 September , 2007 08:12:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

PETER CAVE: A new political battle is brewing over the US involvement in the Iraq war, with the
Democrats saying a planned reduction of troops doesn't go far enough.

White House officials say the President will approve pulling out 30,000 troops by the middle of
next year, when he addresses the nation tomorrow.

The Democrats say in effect that's the equivalent of staying the course and neither them, nor the
American people, are prepared to accept that.

Washington Correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: For the top US commander in Iraq, it'll probably be a relief to soon leave the
pressure cooker of Washington politics for the heat, dust and danger of Baghdad.

That's because the political fallout from General David Petraeus's two days of testimony on Capitol
Hill has already begun.

First, Democrats have rejected his call for a reduction of as many as 30,000 US troops, saying it
doesn't go far enough.

House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi also claims the four-star general is advocating staying in
Iraq for a long time.

NANCY PELOSI: General Petraeus made it clear the choice is between a responsible redeployment,
drawing down of our forces out of Iraq in the near term, or a 10-year or more commitment to a war
without end. That's where he is. We are someplace else.

DAVID PETRAEUS: With respect I don't believe I ever said, I did not say that there is an open-ended
commitment.

KIM LANDERS: White House spokesman Tony Snow has weighed in on the General's side.

TONY SNOW: It's pretty clear that it's not a war without end, and as a matter of fact it's a war
that actually has victory as its aim.

KIM LANDERS: But there's something that General Petraeus did say that's causing some political
heartache too.

Asked by a senior Republican Senator if his Iraq strategy would make America safer, the General
replied, quote, "I don't know".

Today he was trying to set the record straight.

DAVID PETRAEUS: Achieving our national interest in Iraq is very important, and therefore do, yes,
make our country safer.

KIM LANDERS: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was also prompted to come to his defence.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well the war in Iraq, when we are successful there, will make a more stable Iraq,
and that will make a more stable Middle East.

KIM LANDERS: Iran has already dismissed Washington's strategy, with a foreign ministry spokesman
saying it, quote, "Won't save the United States from the Iraqi quagmire".

In a 15 minute address from the White House tomorrow, the President will endorse the troop
withdrawal recommendation that's been made by General Petraeus.

It's just the start of a fresh PR (public relations) blitz. The following day George W. Bush will
make a speech about Iraq at a Marine base just outside Washington, while Vice President Dick Cheney
will do his part by giving speeches too.

The President, who's previously cited the half-century US presence in South Korea as a possible
model for Iraq, is not expected to spell out when all American troops will be able to come home.

This is Kim Landers, in Washington for AM.