The Washington Post on Bush's speech yesterday: "President Bush defended his ongoing military commitment in Iraq by linking the conflict there to the Vietnam War, arguing Wednesday that withdrawing U.S. troops would lead to widespread death and suffering as it did in Southeast Asia three decades ago… Although his comments played well among the veterans here -- the speech was interrupted with repeated cheers and applause -- the references to the Vietnam conflict, which remains a divisive, emotional issue for many Americans, prompted strong criticism from Democrats."
Interestingly, in the White House press office' s "Morning Update," the staff appeared to take pains to find clips of Bush's VFW speech that didn't make the Vietnam comparison. Notice the phrase "far east."
The New York Times adds, "The speech was the beginning of an intense White House initiative to shape the debate on Capitol Hill in September, when the president's troop buildup will undergo a re-evaluation. It came amid rising concerns in Washington over the performance of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, who has made little progress toward bridging the sectarian divide in his country."
More: "On Thursday, the administration is planning to make public parts of a sober new report by American intelligence agencies expressing deep doubts that the Maliki government can overcome sectarian differences. Government officials who have seen the report say it gives a bleak outlook on the chances Mr. Maliki can meet milestones intended to promote unity in Iraq."
George Will writes, "Petraeus's metrics of success might ignite more arguments than they settle. In America, police drug sweeps often produce metrics of success but dealers soon relocate their operations. If Iraqi security forces have become substantially more competent, some Americans will say U.S. forces can depart; if those security forces have not yet substantially improved, the same people will say U.S. forces must depart. Furthermore, will the security forces' competence ultimately serve the Iraqi state -- or a sect?"
On the surge-is-working flap, "Camp Clinton insisted she was talking only about a limited improvement in Anbar, linked to better relations with tribal leaders -- a claim she made to the Daily News in March," the New York Daily News writes. "The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution," Clinton said yesterday. "It has failed."
Dodd yesterday released this statement regarding his rivals' recent statements on the surge in Iraq: "Despite the exemplary performance of our troops, we are coming off the bloodiest summer of this misguided war and it should be clear that there can be no military solution in Iraq. It is useless to argue the merits of a specific tactic when the strategy itself is failed."
He went on to say, "In fact, debating over military tactics when there is no military solution only undermines efforts by those of us who believe that we must change course in Iraq now and begin to immediately redeploy US combat forces so that Iraqi leaders will have the impetus to find a political accord."