War-weary Americans weigh new Bush plan
By ERIN McCLAM, AP National
Wearied by war, Americans paused Wednesday to listen to President Bush's plan
to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq, responding with frustration, puzzlement and,
in some cases, cautious hope.
In a prime-time address to the nation, the president said he would boost
the U.S. presence in Iraq to more than 150,000 troops, steeled the country for
more violence and said he had made a mistake by not ordering more troops there
At a diner called Miss Katie's in downtown Milwaukee, office manager Dave
Berndt said Bush seemed to be "apologizing for what's going on so far, and
almost apologizing in advance for what's going on afterwards."
bartender Joe Sardino was more blunt: "I think this is a Band-Aid on a large
Going head-to-head with Democrats who have called for an end to the war,
Bush said an American pullback now would shatter the Iraqi government and lead
to "mass killings on an unimaginable scale."
Still, the president was
speaking to a nation that has in large part soured on the war, which this spring
will enter its fifth year and which last month cost its 3,000th American
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll in December put approval of Bush's
handling of the war at 27 percent, a record low, and a majority of voters
interviewed in exit polls during the midterm elections said they favored pulling
some or all troops from Iraq.
Even among Americans who applauded Bush's decision to bolster the
American military presence in Iraq, there were questions about why the
reinforcements were only being sent now.
"I'd love to know what took him so long to come to this realization,"
said Wayne Muller, who watched the speech from his home in Raleigh, N.C., and
whose son, Cpl. Danny Muller, serves in Iraq's volatile Anbar province.
either have to get the troops in there to get the job done or bring them home,"
In other quarters, there was clear frustration.
Brad Rosen, a 24-year-old Harvard Law student who watched the speech
among a crowd of about 100 at Cambridge Common bar, seized on Bush's assertion
that 80 percent of the sectarian violence in Iraq is concentrated near
"Where was that information a year ago, when I would have said increase
the troops?" Rosen asked. "But now it seems like a defense posture."
Bush called the increase in American force a change in course in the Iraq
war, and said failure in Iraq would a be "a disaster for the United States." His
speech appeared to stir hope in some that the war might turn for the
A handful of veterans gathered at an American Legion post in Killeen,
Texas, near Fort Hood, to watch the speech. There, 59-year-old Dave Washko, who
called himself "just an old soldier," said he supported Bush.
"I'm just praying it works," he said.
Another veteran there, George Payntar, who served in the Vietnam war,
added: "If we pull out, they'll be here. I am afraid if we pull out now, we
would lose the progress we made and the Iraqi people would suffer greatly."
In Utah — a Bush electoral stronghold where a recent Salt Lake Tribune
poll found less than half of state residents support his war plan — technology
consultant Bart Barker said it may have been Bush's last shot at winning public
"I was pleased that he didn't try to be overly optimistic," said Barker,
52, of Draper. "The way he talked about deploying added troops does give me a
At the upscale restaurant and bar Novecento in Miami's financial
district, patrons seemed more interested in the television screens showing
Cirque Du Soleil than the president's speech.
But many who did watch it said
they were cautiously hopeful.
"I have no idea if this is going to work," said Richard Earl, a
33-year-old money manager. "But he's got a plan. Let's hope it does."
Associated Press writers Mike Baker in Raleigh, Emily Fredrix in
Milwaukee, Elizabeth White in Killeen, Texas, Brock Vergakis in Salt Lake City,
Brandie M. Jefferson in Cambridge, Mass., and Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami
contributed to this report.
All I can say, as one of the weary is this. I was right. If this was all about oil, troops would hev been withdrawn long time ago because oil companies do not want to put thier assets in peril. This is all about the Bush Crusade. To bring Armageddon on as quickly as possible. The people who control Bush, possibly even bush himself, are mad. Beyond mad.
And the frightening thing is.....there is nothing we can do. Nothing.