Bush Discusses Iraq — and Omits the 'V' Word
Speaking on a day that marks four years since the start of the war in Iraq, President Bush says the security crackdown in Baghdad is showing signs of progress.
The president asked the American people for patience, saying that success "will take months, not days or weeks."
But missing from President Bush's speech was a mainstay of his past remarks about Iraq: the word "victory."
The U.S.-led invasion achieved its initial goal of toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, despite its failure to find weapons of mass destruction that U.S. officials listed as the impetus behind the mission.
But since then, violence in Iraq has worsened, and U.S. public opinion has turned strongly against the war. So far, more than 3,200 American soldiers have lost their lives.
President Bush marked the milestone by continuing to express resolve about the war, which is now entering its fifth year. But his comments represent a change in rhetoric from speeches the president has given on past anniversaries of the war.
From the beginning of the Iraq conflict, when President Bush looked ahead to the outcome, he spoke of eventual victory, offering firm statements of eventual success.
On March 19, 2003, when he announced the start of the military operation, the president said, "...and I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half-measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory."
A year later, he pledged that the United States would not fail, adding that whatever it takes, the fight will continue to assure success.
And in a March 19, 2005, radio address, President Bush said, "The victory of freedom in Iraq is strengthening a new ally in the war on terror, and inspiring democratic reformers from Beirut to Tehran."
Just last year, the president declared, "We are implementing a strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq... and victory in Iraq will make this country more secure."
But this year's speech had a different tone. The president spoke for just eight minutes, and did not use the word victory. Instead, he said the war "can be won" — but he defined the task in narrow terms.
"At this point in the war, our most important mission is helping the Iraqis secure their capital," Mr. Bush said.
"Until Baghdad's citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods, it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding, steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society."
As for the possibility of losing in Iraq, a new CNN poll finds Americans already dealing with that prospect. Some 54 percent of those polled say they think the United States will not win the war in Iraq.
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