Bush Al-Jaafari Observations

I have two initial observations about today’s press conference between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Jaafari. First, I wish I could see the back of the room because someone on Bush’s team has to be coaching him to stretch out his answers. Even Bill Clinton did not ramble on like this man.

Second and more important, Bush was asked by a member of the Iraqi press for a response to the following request by Iraqi MP’s:

Eighty two Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum have pressed for the withdrawal of the US-led occupation troops from their country.

The Shiite, Kurdish, Sunni Arab, Christian and communist legislators made the call in a letter sent by Falah Hassan Shanshal of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the largest bloc in parliament, to speaker Hajem Al-Hassani, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

We have asked in several sessions for occupation troops to withdraw. Our request was ignored,” read the latter(sic), made public on Sunday, June 19.

In a bizarre response President Bush came back with the following:

“there are not going to be any timetables” for withdrawal of American forces and vowed victory over insurgents attempting to prevent establishment of a democratic government under a new constitution.

Timetables? Who said anything about timetables? The question was what are you going to do about the fact that the Iraqi government has asked you to leave? If I recall on May 14, 2004 then Secretary of State Colin Powell said:

“We’re there to support the Iraqi people and protect them and the new government,” Powell said at a news conference with his counterparts from other Group of Eight nations preparing for an economic summit next month. “I have no doubt the new government will welcome our presence and am losing no sleep over whether they will ask us to stay.”

But were the new government to say it could handle security, “then we would leave,” Powell said.

Then on June 30, 2004 L. Paul Bremer, the top administrator in Iraq at the time said:

“If the provisional government asks us to leave, we will leave,” Bremer said, referring to an interim Iraqi administration due to take power June 30. “I don’t think that will happen, but obviously we don’t stay in countries where we’re not welcome.”

Not to be undone, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said:

“But were the government that takes over to ask us to leave, we would leave.”

So, since no one else in that room full of stenographers today had the balls to reiterate I will do it for them. Mr. President, considering that the people of Iraq have asked for a full withdrawal of U.S. Forces from their country, and given that your administration and our largest coalition partner have said on the record we would acquiesce if asked, when will we be removing our troops from Iraq?

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