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Security Politics

A new AP-Ipsos poll shows that "Americans are overwhelmingly resigned to something less than clear-cut victory in Iraq and growing numbers doubt the country will achieve a stable, democratic government no matter how the U.S. gets out."  Also, "dissatisfaction with President Bush's handling of Iraq has climbed to an alltime high of 71%...  Even so, Americans are not necessarily intent on getting all U.S. troops out right away, the poll indicated.  The survey found strong support for a two-year timetable if that's what it took to get U.S. troops out." 

In his joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday, Bush once again "cast the Iraq war as part of a global struggle between violent ideological extremists and defenders of freedom and democracy" -- but "shied away" from embracing many of the Iraq Study Group's key recommendations, per the Los Angeles Times, which also looks at the very mixed reception the report is getting from Congress 

The Boston Globe notes that "Bush used the word 'prevail' 11 times... in his first expansive remarks since the Iraq Study Group offered a devastating assessment Wednesday of US policy in Iraq."

McClatchy notes that Bush isn't the only one who's unconvinced.  "[T]he U.S. ground commander in Iraq, while welcoming the report's broad principles, warned that meeting its goal of withdrawing combat units by early 2008 could prove to 'be very problematic.'  Such widespread reservations raised doubt that the group's approach will become a blueprint for U.S. policy." 

On the day after the report came out, "much of Washington maneuvered to pick out the parts they like and pick apart those they do not," says the Washington Post.  "The report's authors were greeted with skepticism on Capitol Hill, and Democratic leaders used the occasion to press Bush to change course without embracing the commission's particular recipe themselves...  The emerging debate over the report sets a baseline for the administration's own internal review of Iraq policy, which officials hope to complete in time for Bush to give a speech to the nation before Christmas announcing his new plan for Iraq." 

Sen. John McCain (R) called the report a "recipe" for defeat.  "The harsh criticism from Mr. McCain, one of the most talked-about figures to possibly replace President Bush in the White House in 2008, further suggests that it will dominate national politics for at least the next two years," says the Washington Times

A New York Times news analysis points out that many "of the blistering critiques of the Bush administration contained in the Iraq Study Group's report boil down to this: the differing worldviews of Baker versus [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice" -- with Baker favoring engagement with America's adversaries and Rice against it (unless the conditions are right).  

"In a little-noticed section of its report, the [group] lambasted the method the Bush Administration has used to pay for the Iraq war, saying its reliance on 'emergency' budgeting procedures has circumvented congressional oversight and led to billions of taxpayer dollars spent on extras and pet projects not directly related to the war," adds the Boston Globe. The group "said the American people deserve to know exactly where the money is going.  It recommended that President Bush begin including money for the war in his annual budget request for the 2008 fiscal year."

Yesterday, the White House announced the ten newest recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  None of the 10 have been involved in the Iraq war.  Two years ago, NBC's Chris Donovan points out, Bush presented this honor to Paul Bremer, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks in an East Room ceremony, and in turn was criticized by some Democrats and other war critics for rewarding three key Iraq war players.  But in case anyone is tempted to read anything into outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld not making the list, Donovan says, Rumsfeld's bio notes that he already has a medal from 30 years ago, awarded to him by President Gerald Ford on his last full day in office in early 1977.