Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bush Rejects Iraq “Withdrawal Method”

Reuters, Tuesday August 22, 2006 3:45 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush voiced hope on Monday that Iraq could avoid a civil war and build a “culture of life”, but angrily reiterated that the US would not resort to the "withdrawal method".

“We must plant the seed of democracy in the Middle East, and we will not pull out until that goal is accomplished,” the President stated. “We’ll stay the course and soon we shall witness the birth of a new Middle East.”

Bush shrugged off questions about his limp approval ratings and angrily asserted that the US would continue to hammer home the message that good would triumph. “If America were to suddenly withdraw we run the risk of leaving the Iraqi President covered in shame.”

“There’s a lot of people, good, decent people, saying withdraw now. I understand that, but at this moment when passions are inflamed, when we’re face-to-face with the enemy, we have to show that we’re not going to pull out and leave the Iraqi government to clean up the mess. We’re not finished until the shooting stops.”

Bush’s comments came as the US continued to pound Iraq day and night, grappling with a seemingly unquenchable opponent. As the US campaign has deteriorated into a series of protracted, dirty encounters in back alleys and even houses, domestic opinion has hardened.

Washington insiders hailed the President’s resolve on this politically charged issue.

“At the moment, it’s difficult to see who’s going to come out on top,” said a senior Bush administration official who declined to be identified because of the negative nature of his comments. “Iraq is a big, fat mess right now, but it isn’t completely screwed.”

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hailed the President’s comments, stating that the US had to show it had the stamina to also take on Iran if necessary.

Former US ambassador to Israel and Egypt, Ned Walker, disagreed with the President. “If we are going to go into Iran, then you need to have the ability to pull back from there (Iraq),” Walker said.

The press conference was brought to a premature end when several reporters had to be removed from the White House press room following what Admin Spokesman Tony Snow described as "disgraceful, childlike conduct - sniggering like schoolboys."

Reports that the incident started when NBC News Chief and White House correspondent David "Stretch" Gregory asked the President whether the US could "nipple the insurgency in the butt" remain unconfirmed.

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