Nathan Burchfiel, CNSNews.com Staff Writer
President Bush has executed the "wrong war at the wrong time" and is now trying to justify staying in Iraq by falsely comparing withdrawal from there with U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, according to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"In an attempt to justify his stay-the-course strategy in Iraq, President Bush is offering false lessons from history," Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. Her remarks were in response to Bush's claim, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, that "seeing the Iraqis through as they build their democracy is critical to keeping the American people safe from the terrorists who want to attack us."
"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields,'" said Bush.
"If we were to abandon the Iraqi people, the terrorists would be emboldened, and use their victory to gain new recruits," he said, adding that "unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home. And that is why, for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America."
In addition to stating that Bush's justification for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is based on "false" notions, Pelosi dismissed reports that the troop surge is helping to maintain security by noting that the Iraqi government has been unproductive.
"Whatever improvements in security that may have resulted from the efforts of our troops since the surge began, Iraqi leaders have not done the hard political work on which the future of their country depends," Pelosi said. "And therefore, the purpose of the surge - to enable the Iraqis to produce political reconciliation - has not been accomplished."
"The American people have already judged the president's war in Iraq as the wrong war at the wrong time, and are ready for our troops to come home now," said Pelosi. However, recent public opinion polling suggests that while support for the war is still low, the effects of the troop surge are having a positive effect on support.
An Aug. 12 CBS poll found that 30 percent of Americans supported removing all troops from Iraq, down from 34 percent in a July CBS poll. The August poll also found that 29 percent of Americans think the troop surge is having a positive effect in Iraq, up from 20 percent in July.
An Aug. 8 CNN/Opinion Research Poll found that 32 percent of Americans believe the United States is winning in Iraq, up from 29 percent in March 2007 but down from 34 percent in November 2006.
A majority, 54 percent, in the August 8 poll believed the United States is capable of winning in Iraq, up from 46 percent in March. But overall support for the war remained low, with 33 percent saying they favored it, up three points from a June poll but lower than the yearlong average of 34 percent.
Bush on Tuesday also voiced frustration with political progress in Iraq, noting that "it's not easy to go from a tyrannical society where the tyrant brutalized his people and created deep suspicions into one in which people are willing to work more closely together."
Bush said any decision to change the government in Iraq would have to come from the Iraqi people. "That's up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians. The Iraqis will decide," he said.
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