By Suzanne Freeman
Monday, November 3Sixteen U.S. soldiers were killed and 20 wounded when a hand-held missile shot down a Chinook helicopter in Falluja, Iraq, yesterday. The attack was the deadliest since the U.S. invaded Iraq in March. It was the second major attack in a series of violent attacks that have racked the Baghdad area in the last week.
"It's clearly a tragic day for America," said U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in Washington, D.C. "In a long hard war, we're going to have tragic days. But they're necessary. They're part of a war that's difficult and complicated."
President George W. Bush said that the U.S. remains "unshakable" in its determination to establish a peaceful democracy in Iraq.
A major Senate democrat agreed with Bush's plan to maintain a strong U.S. force in the war-torn country. "If we lose the peace in Iraq, that entire part of the world becomes chaos," said Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware. "You have Iran becoming a powerful force there surrounded by two failed statesAfghanistan and Iraq."
According to public opinion polls, however, American support for continuing a strong military presence in Iraq is declining. The most recent poll showed that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of how Bush is handling the situation in Iraq. This is the first time that his approval rating on the war has dropped below 50 percent.
One reason for the public's falling support is that more than 120,000 troops remain in Iraq six months after Bush declared the end to major battle. Early on, the Pentagon had estimated that only 60,000 troops would be needed at this point in the war. The Pentagon hopes to quickly improve the situation in Iraq by involving more Iraqis in hunting down the rebels.
"Iraqis bring vital language and cultural skills to the task of fighting terrorism," said Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq. "They will recognize the strangers, they will hear different accents, and be able to help us identify the strangers and particularly the foreign fighters."
Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez said the U.S. will prevail against further attacks and ultimately succeed.
"We are winning the global war on terrorism and I remain absolutely convinced that we are winning in [Iraq]," Sanchez said. "The security situation continues to stablize . . . there is security and stability across great parts of Iraq."
Red Cross, Police Stations, Bombed in Baghdad
By Suzanne Freeman
Monday, October 27Four suicide bombs went off today in Baghdad, killing at least 34 people and wounding more than 200. The bombs targeted three Iraqi police stations and the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters. Officials believe the bombings were timed to disrupt the first day of Ramadan, a month-long Muslim holiday.
On Sunday, a hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying was also bombed.
In Washington, D.C., today, President George W. Bush met with L. Paul Bremer III, the U.S. chief administrator in Iraq.
"We're determined not to be intimidated by these killers," Bush told reporters in the White House after his meeting with Bremer. "These are terrorists in Iraq who are willing to kill anybody in order to stop our progress. The more success we have on the ground, the more these killers will reactand our job is to find them and bring them to justice."
Red Cross officials were stunned that terrorists would target the international aid organization.
"Maybe it was an illusion to think people would understand after 23 years that we are unbiased," said Nada Doumani, a Red Cross spokesperson. The Red Cross, which has been working in Iraq since 1980, cut its foreign staff from 100 to about 30 after the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad last month. "We were always confident that people knew us and that our work here would protect us," Doumani said. "This is completely un-understandable."
Bush Asks for Billions More for Iraq
By Suzanne Freeman
Monday, September 8The price tag for maintaining peace and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone up by $87 billion, said President George W. Bush. The President addressed the nation on TV last night to build his case for the expenditure, which is three times more than the administration had originally estimated.
Bush also said the frontline of the war on terrorism is now in Iraq.
"Iraq is now the central front," he said. "Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand thereand there they must be defeated." He called on the international community to help with funds and troops.
Bush made his 18-minute speech from the cabinet room in the White House. It was televised on all major networks during prime time. He used the important time slot to outline his administration's strategy for continuing the war in Iraq.
"Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives," he said. "Destroying terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq, and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future."
The cost of maintain the 150,000 American troops in Iraq is about $4 billion a month. Congress approved a $79 billion expenditure package in the early summer. Bush will not be asking for an additional $87 billion.
About $75 billion of the $87 billion is for Iraq. The rest is for Afghanistan, which continues to struggle with building a democracy. The administration hopes to raise an additional $55 billion from other countries, and from Iraqi oil revenue.
"This will take time and require sacrifice," Bush said. "Yet we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror."