The administration is preparing to announce changes to its Iraq plan, including a increase in U.S. military presence by 20,000 troops. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks talk about the evolving U.S. policy in Iraq in advance of President Bush's address to the nation.
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And to some pre-speech perspective on what the president will say on Iraq tonight. It's from Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
State the stakes for the president tonight.
DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:
First, if I could pick up on something John Burns just said…
OK, you may.
… he said that Maliki doesn't like this plan being imposed upon him, the embeds, the troops, the generals standing over his shoulder.
At the White House and the State Department, there were a whole series of briefings today for reporters and columnists. They went over the top to say, "This was Maliki's plan. He designed the plan. This is an Iraqi-led plan. It's Iraqi, it's Iraqi, Iraqi," trying to soothe the way for him to accept this, to buy into this.
And that is one of the tensions. And it seems to me there are a couple of tensions the president has to deal with tonight.
It's a skeptical public. He's got to show, in the military sense, this offers something new and different. I think that's possible.
But then he's also got to show in the political sense that the Iraqis are going to be different, that they are actually going to be nonsectarian. He's got to do both those things in a persuasive way.
And then the third thing he's got to do, honestly, is say how bad things are. And that I think he'll do. It's the political element that's the most problematic for him tonight.