Bush announces Iraq troop cuts

The U.S. President, George W. Bush has announced plans to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq by 5,700 by the end of the year. Further withdrawals will continue in 2008, cutting soldier numbers by around 20,000 by next July.

Addressing the nation in a televised speech on Iraq for the 8th time since the invasion began in March 2003, President Bush announced a new plan for the U.S. troops in Iraq. The Commander-in-Chief cited progress following the troop surge and called for a total force reduction of 5,700 troops by December.

“Americans want our country to be safe and our troops to begin coming home from Iraq. Yet those of us who believe success in Iraq is essential to our security, and those who believe we should bring our troops home, have been at odds. Now, because of the measure of success we are seeing in Iraq, we can begin seeing troops come home,” George Bush said.

While at the same time highlighting security gains in Iraq, President Bush said that the Iraqi government has not done enough and must speed up reconciliation efforts.

“Now the Iraqi government must bring the same determination to achieving reconciliation. This is an enormous undertaking after more than three decades of tyranny and division. The government has not met its own legislative benchmarks – and in my meetings with Iraqi leaders, I have made it clear that they must,” he added.

Democrats argue that the President is missing the point and that withdrawing a limited number of troops is not enough. Blasting the President's plan, Democrats demanded a new course for the Iraq war.

“Once again the President failed to provide a plan to either successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it. The President rightfully invoked the valour of our troops in his speech, but his plan does not amount to real change. Solders take a solemn oath to protect our nation and we have a solemn responsibility to send them into battle with only clear and achievable missions, tonight the President provided neither,” said Jack Reed, U.S. Senator. 

Democrats aren't not sold on President Bush's Iraq policy and plan to introduce legislation to limit the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq as a way to bring more troops home. Next week the Senate takes up a defence bill to further challenge the President, setting up another showdown with the Congress over the four-year-old war.