Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, all attended the meeting at the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Thursday.
President Bush said he was making “good progress” in coming up with a fresh strategy in Iraq but needed more advice before announcing his plan next month.“We've got more consultations to do. Till I talk to the country about the plan, obviously we will continue to work with the Iraqi government. We want to help them succeed, so we will continue to consult with the Iraqi's. I'm going to talk to Congress, not only will I continue to reach out to Congress, but members of my team will do so as well,”
said Mr Bush.
Thus, with casualties rising and anticipation mounting about the new U.S. strategy in Iraq, President Bush made a visible effort to seek advice from the military, diplomats, academics, retired generals, Iraqi officials and Congressional leaders. One major change that will be considered is increasing the number of troops in Iraq by up to 30,000 bringing the total to an all time high of 164,000.
However, a recent ABC News poll shows that the majority of Americans do not want to send more troops to Iraq, with just 17% in favour, while 52% of Americans say the U.S. is loosing in Iraq.
So, it is no surprise that President Bush is suffering from approval ratings at an all time low.
Democrats who take over Congress at the beginning of the New Year will also need more convincing before extra troops are called in.“I think adding as many as 30,000 troops to the Baghdad area would be a mistake and could even cause us more difficulty down the road,”
stressed the U.S. Democrat Senator, Chris Dodd.
While there are doubts whether sending more troops will accomplish much, there is a growing concern in Iraq that the sectarian violence will only worsen, especially with the execution of Saddam Hussein expected to take place in next 30 days.