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Slipping into chaos.

Byline: The Register-Guard

With the ink barely dry on news reports that more than two-thirds of the American people disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the war in Iraq, the president knew he needed to face the nation Thursday night to buck up the shrinking minority. What better way than with that humdinger of a speech he gave on May 1, 2003, when he made his famous declaration that "major combat operations have come to an end" beneath a banner that read "Mission Accomplished"?

He gave a version of the same speech again on June 28, 2005, and again on Nov. 30, 2005, and again on Dec. 18, 2005, and again on March 14, 2006, and again on Jan. 11, 2007, and then one more time on Thursday night. When the words are right, President Bush stays the course.

"The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is `return on success.' The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home."- Sept. 14, 2007.

"We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave - and we will leave behind a free Iraq."- May 1, 2003.

"I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer."- June 28, 2005.

"Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win, and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory."- Nov. 30, 2005.

"My fellow citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq - we are winning the war in Iraq. I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country - victory or defeat."- Dec. 18, 2005.

"Our goal in Iraq is victory, and victory will be achieved when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks against our nation. As Iraqis stand up, America and our coalition will stand down."- March 14, 2006.

"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people - and it is unacceptable to me. It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home."- Jan. 11, 2007.

"This vision for a reduced American presence also has the support of Iraqi leaders from all communities. At the same time, they understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic, and security engagement thatextends beyond my presidency."- Sept. 14, 2007.

The Bush presidency ends on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009, 493 days from today. It doesn't seem likely that American military involvement in Iraq will end one minute sooner.

Members of Congress who refuse to support legislation forcing Bush to change his disastrous course in Iraq should mark their calendars every day with the number of American soldiers killed and wounded and the taxpayer dollars expended between now and Jan. 20, 2009. Voters will be keeping their own tally.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; U.S., allies must renew focus on Afghanistan
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 15, 2007
Words:609
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