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Bush Turns Up Heat on Maliki
Despite the administration's apparently coordinated moves to put public pressure on the Maliki government, Bush intends to use an address Wednesday, to a convention in Kansas City of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to make another attempt to rebuild U.S. public support for the Iraq effort by linking it to earlier American military campaigns in the Pacific -- in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The White House took the unusual step Tuesday of releasing advance excerpts of Bush's remarks.
"There are many differences between the wars we fought in the Far East and the war on terror we are fighting today. But one important similarity is that at their core, they are all ideological struggles," Bush plans to say, according to his prepared remarks. "Today, the names and places have changed, but the fundamental character of the struggle has not. Like our enemies in the past, the terrorists who wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places seek to spread a political vision of their own -- a harsh plan for life that crushes all freedom, tolerance, and dissent.
Crocker, the ambassador, said his report to Congress will address what he described as several key military successes but will state that maintaining security requires a cohesive national government. When the United States sent 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year, Bush and Petraeus said the goal was to reduce violence and give Iraq's government time to focus on long-term political solutions.
American commanders have said military progress has taken place, especially in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, where the level of sectarian violence has dropped dramatically as a result of alliances between the military and Sunni sheiks interested in driving out the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Crocker said military gains in Anbar underline the necessity of including civilians in security efforts, which the United States has done with increasing frequency. The creation of "concerned citizen" groups poses significant risks for American forces, who cannot be sure about the allegiances or long-term goals of the volunteer fighters. Still, Crocker said, the strategy mitigates the negative effects of the national police force, which is known for its corruption and is distrusted by many Iraqis.
"As you look at the fairly awful experiment with the national police so far, this notion of local policing may be strategically important," he said.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner used a surprise trip to Baghdad to call on European countries to help the United States repair Iraq. Kouchner's comments represent a major departure from former French president Jacques Chirac's stance on Iraq. Relations between France and the United States were severely damaged after Chirac led global opposition to the 2003 invasion.
Since his election in May, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sought to strengthen ties with the United States. Kouchner told a French radio station that Iraq's leaders are "expecting something" from the French government and that he planned to assist U.S. efforts.
"The Americans can't get this country out of difficulty all alone," Kouchner said.
Also Tuesday, a judge in Baghdad convened a trial of 15 former Iraqi military commanders accused of killing tens of thousands of Shiites in southern Iraq under Saddam Hussein's command. The men, including Hussein's cousin -- known as "Chemical Ali" -- are charged with "engaging in widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population" during a Shiite rebellion at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.