Bush opens door to US troop increase in Iraq

Bush has apparently signaled that the US may increase the number of US soldiers in Iraq, despite a flurry of reports that plans are in the works to begin reducing troop levels beginning next year. Bush made his remarks at a joint press conference with Blair shortly after the car bombings in Istanbul that killed 27 and wounded over 450.

QUESTION: Could I ask both leaders about the agenda on Iraq? You are both engaged in an unpredictable and dangerous war, as we've seen today. And yet, you say you want to bring the troops home starting from next year. Now, how is that possible when the security situation is still so unresolved? You haven't got Saddam Hussein. Aren't you stuck in Iraq with your enemies holding the exit door?

BUSH: I said that we're going to bring our troops home starting next year? What I said is that we'll match the security needs with the number of troops necessary to secure Iraq. And we're relying upon our commanders on the ground to make those decisions.

QUESTION: So you'll keep a certain number of troops in Iraq for a longer time?

BUSH: We could have less troops in Iraq, we could have the same number of troops in Iraq, we could have more troops in Iraq, what is ever necessary to secure Iraq.
Bush goes on to talk about the magical 130,000-strong Iraqi security force that is being trained and how the US is pinning part of its hopes on this project. In my opinion, this is a pipe dream. Not only will we get relatively untrained security forces (which might be susceptible to large-scale rights violations), but they will be widely seen as the enforcers of an occupying regime. In addition, the US might find out that it actually trained new segments of the Iraqi resistance.

In terms of the overall struggle inside the administration over the direction of the occupation, it looks like the anti-"Operation Cut and Run" faction now has the upper hand.

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