Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bush to focus on troops and his war policy

If his Fort Bragg speech is an early indicator, the commander-in-chief may be readying himself to end the war Mindy Belz

"President Bush began Memorial Day weekend last Thursday with a speech in Fort Bragg, N.C., to five brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division—the first time in two years all five were assembled for review following extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The president saluted a flyover of helicopters, watched as parachuters landed on the field, hugged family members whose husbands and sons have died in the war, and gave the crowd the traditional 'Hooah!'

The event marked the beginning for the president of a week focused on the troops and on his war policy. On Sunday at the White House lawn he will speak to a group of veterans and POW/MIA activists. On Monday he and the first lady will participate in the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, and on Wednesday he will deliver the commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. "

While flags unfurl this Memorial Day weekend, U.S. combat casualties in
Iraq stand at 16—on track to make May perhaps the lowest casualty months in
years, perhaps of the entire war. It's a good time to remember the lives lost,
and saved, and to contemplate the possibility of bringing this war chapter
to a close.

If the Fort Bragg speech is an early indicator, then beneath the pomp-and-circumstance of this holiday when Americans honor their war heroes is a message from a commander-in-chief who may be readying himself to end the war.
The president outlined four conditions for "success in Iraq":
• a country that can protect its own people
• one that supports itself economically
•a democracy that governs itself effectively and responds to the will of its people
•and a country that is an ally of the United States in the war on terror.
The president acknowledged there remains "tough fighting ahead" and cautioned against "withdrawal from Iraq before we have achieved success." But recent events on the ground suggest—remarkably—that the four-point test can arguably be met:

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