TELLS IRAQIS THEY'RE NOW RESPONSIBLE FOR REBUILDING AND SECURITY
50,000 US TROOPS TO STAY IN PERMANENT BASES
Before flying into Baghdad for a five hour visit yesterday, US President George W. Bush met with his top advisors and war commanders at the Camp David retreat.
It was a media show more than anything else. Bush knew he was about to leave for Baghdad and wanted to make his chief point of the day twice. Once to the US media, and again to the government and people of Iraq.
That point being that the future of Iraq was now in the hands of Iraqis.
''The best way to win this war against an insurgency is to stand up a unity government which is capable of defending itself, but also providing tangible benefits to the people,'' Bush said after the meeting.''Ultimately, the Iraqi people are going to have to make up their mind. Do they want to live in terror, or do they want to live in peace?''
The handover of all responsibility for Iraq, from the US to the new Iraqi government, is well underway, despite ongoing insurgent attacks on civilians and potable water and electricity being far below even pre-war levels of availability.
Oil, Bush said, was the key to the future prosperity of Iraq, but attacks on the oil infrastructure and a massive oil smuggling blackmarket remain huge problems and are unlikely to be resolved any time soon.
"It's in our interest that Iraq succeed," Bush told Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
It sure is. By the time Bush leaves the White House in early 2008, the US will have poured more than $US500 billion into removing Saddam Hussein from power and attempting to establish democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
"I've come to not only look you in the eye," Bush told al-Maliki, in Baghdad.
"I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it keeps its word,"
Bush made it crystal clear that he now regards the well-being and future of Iraq as being the responsibility of Iraq's government and all Iraqis.
The March To Victory has well and truly begun.
Exactly how and when President Bush will claim victory in Iraq will be backed by a massive PR/spin campaign, which seems already underway, with the killing of al-Zarqawi as the first headline grabber, and Bush's triumphant visit to Iraq being the next.
Less well publicised was the news that the US is going to keep some 50,000 troops (almost one-tenth of its entire deployable force) in Iraq for at least the next three years, in a series of permanent, hardened bases scattered across the country.
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