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Bush reaches beyond inner circle on Iraq policy

By Tabassum Zakaria 1 hour, 56 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President George W. Bush reached on Thursday beyond his tight circle of trusted aides to solicit views on
Iraq of former secretaries of state and defense, including some who have publicly criticized his policy.

The meeting, part of the president's effort to defend his policies on Iraq and the war on terrorism, took place as insurgent violence surged anew in Iraq. Two suicide bombers killed 120 people and wounded more than 200 in the cities of Kerbala and Ramadi and seven U.S. soldiers were also killed in separate roadside bomb attacks.

"Not everybody around this table agreed with my decision to go into Iraq and I fully understand that," Bush said, adding that he had listened to their concerns and suggestions. "We take to heart the advice."

The former officials who served in administrations dating back to President John Kennedy, attended a meeting with Bush, current Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

They were briefed by Gen. George Casey, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Lawrence Eagleburger, secretary of state for Bush's father, said when talking to the president there is a tendency to be restrained in expressing opposing views.

"There was some criticism, but it was basically 'you haven't talked to the American people enough,' and it was very mild," he said to reporters after the meeting. "We're all has-beens anyway," he said, smoking a cigarette in front of the television cameras on the White House driveway.

Bush has been emphasizing progress in Iraq after the December elections to an American public that has shown increasing discontent with the war in which more than 2,100 U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqis have died.

Critics have called for a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, but Bush has repeatedly said that he will not set a timetable and U.S. forces would not pull out until Iraqi forces can take over security.

"The main thrust of our success will be when the Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy that wants to stop their democracy and we're making darn good progress along those lines," Bush said.


Alexander Haig, secretary of state for President
Ronald Reagan, said Bush was right to say withdrawing troops from Iraq would be determined by conditions on the ground.

"I think the president has taken the absolutely correct position, contrary to a number of Washington politicians," Haig said.

Bush has to address the troop withdrawal question because many Americans want to know when U.S. forces will pull out, but it can give information to the enemy, Eagleburger said. "Every time we talk about withdrawal you can see the ears of Osama (bin Laden) and his friends perking up."

Among those attending were
Colin Powell, Bush's first secretary of state whose tenure was often marked by friction with the White House and the
Pentagon on a range of foreign policy issues.

Since leaving the post, Powell has avoided publicly criticizing the president, but several of his aides have lashed out at Bush, Vice President
Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Also at the meeting were William Perry, defense secretary in the administration of President
Bill Clinton who was an adviser to Bush's 2004 election opponent, Democratic Sen.
John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Other former secretaries of state from both Republican and Democratic administrations who attended included
Madeleine Albright, James Baker, and George Shultz.

Former secretaries of defense included William Cohen, Frank Carlucci, James Schlesinger, Harold Brown, Melvin Laird and Robert McNamara.

McNamara, 89, served under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Although he was a key architect of early U.S. policy in Vietnam, he eventually became disillusioned with the war there.
That would be a hell of a meeting to attend. Bobby McNamara and Madeline Albright! neat.

In any case, it's nice to see Bush going out to look at other viewpoints but I still think the other guy that I voted for would have done a better job. And by "the other guy" I mean Leonard Peltier, not Johnny Kerry.

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ComradeMolyneux said:
And by "the other guy" I mean Leonard Peltier, not Johnny Kerry.


War sucks in general. It happened, its war, its politics. Soldiers are going to die from both sides. The loss of human life is bad no matter how you look at it.

What about the good stuff thats come out of it, and dont tell me theres no good to ousting a tyrannical madman from a country that at one time had a very large army and massive amounts of weapons.
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