He said that one reason for the delay was to allow Robert Gates, the incoming defence secretary, the opportunity to offer his input when he takes over from Donald Rumsfeld on Monday.
Bush said: “There has been a lot of violence in Iraq. The violence has been horrific.”
“At the appropriate time, I’ll stand up in front of the nation and say, here’s where we’re headed”
George Bush, US president
Although the White House had initially suggested that Bush would deliver his Iraq speech before the December 25 Christmas holiday, he decided to delay it until early next year.
Bush has been criticised by some Democrats who say that a new policy needs to be put into place quickly.
Bush said: “I’m not going to be rushed into making a difficult decision, a necessary decision to say to our troops: ‘We’re going to give you the tools necessary to succeed and a strategy to succeed.'”
Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security adviser, told Al Jazeera that he approved of some of the recommendations in the Iraq Study Group report, but he said that it was focused on solving US problems rather than Iraqi problems.
He said: “The change in nature of the mission from combat to training, equipping and giving logistical support to Iraq forces is welcomed.”
He said that Iraq was already engaging with regional countries as suggested in the report, and that it was important to “clean the interior ministry” where militias are believed to be “using facilities to kill people”.
According to al-Rubaie a comprehensive plan exists to rehabilitate the militias.
“This is a contagious and infectious disease, and [it] is catching”
Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security adviser
He said: “Nine out of the ten major militias have signed on the dotted line to disband and disarm.”
He said that if the situation continued to deteriorate, the violence could spread beyond Iraq’s borders to countries as far as Pakistan.
“This is a contagious and infectious disease, and [it] is catching,” he said.
Words for the troops
Bush addressed some of his remarks to members of the US military, including the 140,000 troops now stationed in Iraq.
He said: “I appreciate their sacrifices, and I want them to know I’m focused on developing a strategy that will help them achieve their mission. I know there is a lot of debate at home, and our troops pay attention to that debate. It means I’m listening to a lot of advice to develop a strategy to help you succeed.”
“At the appropriate time, I’ll stand up in front of the nation and say, here’s where we’re headed,” Bush said.
Bush again pledged to work with the new Democratic Congress that convenes in January “to forge greater bipartisan consensus” on Iraq policy.