January 10, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---President Bush made a plea to the American people tonight, saying we should finish the job we started in Iraq.
"It is in the interest of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom," he said.
It's a new year, and President Bush has a new plan. In it, 20,000 to 25,000 additional us troops would be sent to Iraq. Their mission: to help 18 newly-formed Iraqi brigades end sectarian violence.
The White House is asking Congress for $6 billion to do it.
"The changes I have outlined here tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security," the president said.
It's what some are calling a final push to bring freedom to Iraq.
Nearly four years after its start, the war rages on, and President Bush is now asking for more troops and more money.
"The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success," he said. "I believe that it will."
24-year-old Dustin Elliott hopes so. He's seen more of the Middle East than most will see in their lifetimes.
"Hopefully he has a good point behind this reasoning, and I just have to support him whatever he does," Dustin said.
The combat medic served one year at a US base just north of Baghdad. President Bush's call for additional troops could send him back.
There's not a single day that goes by that Dustin doesn't stop and think about his first tour of duty in Iraq--what it was like to be away from family and friends, and how hot it was, some days reaching 130 degrees.
And there's a strong possibility it won't be his last tour.
"With these 20,000 soldiers being called up, it's not going to be just combat soldiers," he said. "They're going to need support. They're going to need medical support, maintenance support..."
So Dustin is on standby, not sure when or even if he'll get a phone call.
As he waits, so does the rest of the country, praying for a peaceful end.
President Bush is in a very delicate and political situation. A number of surveys show Iraq was the number one issue during the midterm elections.
As commander in chief, he has every right to send troops wherever he wishes, but Congress must fund those efforts...$6 billion worth.
As you know, there's been a tremendous shift in Congress, with Democrats--not Republicans--in control.
"The bipartisan committee certainly did not recommend this, and one of his mistakes, I think, is he is totally ignoring the bipartisan's recommendations," Dr. Ralph Walker of ASU's Political Science department told News 12.
Dr. Walker calls the president's plan a last minute, desperate effort to pull the chestnut out of the fire and win over both Americans and members of his own administration who have soured on the war in Iraq.
We also caught up some of you to hear your thoughts on the president's speech.
"I think that it's time to just stick with what we got over there. Not necessarily devote any more lives or money to the situation in Iraq," said Elizabeth Smith. "I think it's gone on too long. It's time to get some resolution over there and move on with other things that are important in the world, because there's plenty of other issues in the world that need America's attention."
"There's really no right and wrong in this anymore," said Nick Prokosa. "I think it's all wrong. But now that it's already been done, asking for more money and more troops...it's got to be done."
Your senators are talking about the president's new strategy in Iraq as well.
US Senator Saxby Chambliss released a statement, saying in part: "My support of any increase in troops is conditional upon those troops having a specific mission, and upon the completion of that mission those troops should be redeployed."
And from Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina: "We must get a handle on the security situation in Iraq. You cannot establish a democracy when you have militias stronger than the central government."