Democrats: Bush reckless in Iraq

Democrats call for a shift towards diplomacy in Iraq in their official response.

    Webb called for a policy that 'takes our soldiers
    off the streets of Iraq's cities' [EPA]

    'Disregarded warnings'
    Webb said: "The president took us into this war recklessly ... He disregarded warnings from ... many with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs.
    Your Views

    "[The speech] will make a difference, as long as he comes out on the Iraq war situation and is honest"

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    "The war's costs to our nation have been staggering ... Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world.
    "The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism, and especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve."
    Webb, whose son is now serving in the military in Iraq, said Bush should take "the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world".
    "If he does, we will join him," Webb said. "If he does not, we will be showing him the way."
    'Body bags'


    Reacting to Bush's comments on Iraq, Keith Ellison, a Democrat and the first Muslim congressman in the US:

    "I don't think that this will change public opinion ...

    too many young people have come back in body bags."

    Full text of Jim Webb's speech

    He told Al Jazeera:

    "The [Bush's Iraq] policy doesn't work and doesn't bring peace.


    "There is too much sectarian division in Iraq and we are throwing good money after bad."

    Newly installed majority Democrats had made clear since Friday that they believe Bush no longer controls the nation's policy agenda, especially on Iraq.
    John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, said: "The president missed a golden opportunity tonight to admit that he made a mistake in Iraq and to share with the American people a plan for gradually removing our troops and allowing the Iraqis to solve the political crisis in Iraq."
    Full text of Bush's 2007 State of the Union speech

    Barrack Obama, Illinois Democrat and possible 2008 presidential candidate, said: "The last election proved that politics-by-slogan and poll-tested sound bites aren't going to cut it with the American people anymore, and that's why the real test of leadership is not what the president said to Congress tonight, but how he works with Congress to find real solutions to the problems we face."
    'Failed policy'
    Harry Reid, the senate majority leader, and Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, said in a joint statement: "While the president continues to ignore the will of the country, Congress will not ignore this president's failed policy.
    "His plan will receive an up-or-down vote in both the House and the Senate, and we will continue to hold him accountable for changing course in Iraq."

    Bush's 2007 State of the Union speech was
    his seventh


    Interviewed on Al Jazeera, Christopher Shays, a Republican House member, said: "It's new in a sense that there was more emphasis on energy independence.
    "Most Americans have been wondering why we haven't focused on the issue sooner. [With the new policy], we can shape our own destiny.
    "The speech was low key. It was a pretty tempered speech. It wasn't arrogant, it wasn't talking about an 'axis of evil'."
    "I don't put any blame on the Iraqis but ultimately it's up to them. Shias and Sunnis are going to have find a common ground. If the Iraqi government doesn't take on the militias, [Bush's plan] will fail in Iraq."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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