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Newly Unveiled Iraq Proposal Draws Criticism

President Bush's proposal to add more troops to the ongoing effort in Iraq has been met with mixed reaction throughout Washington. NewsHour Correspondent Kwame Holman reports on the responses to the President's speech Wednesday and the new Iraq strategy.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Secretary of State Rice, Defense Secretary Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace were out at 8:30 this morning trying to drum up support for the administration's new Iraq policy, which the president announced last night.

    Gates, who assumed his job just three weeks ago, began by offering a stark assessment of the road ahead.

  • ROBERT GATES:

    At this pivotal moment, the credibility of the United States is on the line in Iraq.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    As outlined by the president, the new Iraq strategy would increase the number of troops in Iraq by more than 21,000. About 17,000 of those forces would be sent to Baghdad; the remaining 4,000 to Anbar province, another area where violence has been heavy.

    The number of U.S. military advisers embedded in Iraqi security forces also would be expanded.

    Gates acknowledged he didn't know how long the additional troops would remain in Iraq or when the mission would be deemed successful but said, in his view, the move was necessary.

  • ROBERT GATES:

    The security plan is designed to have Iraqi forces lead a campaign, with our forces in support, to protect the population of Baghdad from intimidation and violence instigated by Sunni and Shia extremist groups, and to enable the Iraqi government to take the difficult steps necessary to address that nation's underlying issues.

    This means, above all, strengthening those in Iraq who are prepared to address its problems peacefully against those who seek only violence, death and chaos.

    The term "surge" has been used in relation to increasing U.S. troop levels, and an increase certainly will take place. But what is really going on and what is going to take place is a surge across all lines of operations: military and non-military, Iraqi and coalition.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The non-military aspect of the plan includes more than $1 billion in new economic aid: $414 million to enhance provincial reconstruction; $400 million to repair damaged institutions; and $350 million for field commanders to deal with local problems.

    The plan also calls for renewed diplomatic efforts, including establishing a regional forum to encourage support from neighboring states, and intensifying efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.

    Secretary Rice acknowledged the conditions on the ground needed to change.

    CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. Secretary of State: All Americans know that the stakes in Iraq are enormous, and we all share the belief that the situation is currently unacceptable. On this, we are united.

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