War-weary Americans weigh new Bush plan

(AP)
Updated: 2007-01-11 11:31

Wearied by war, Americans paused Wednesday night to listen to President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq some responding with frustration, others with renewed hope and some with outright puzzlement.

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, and said he had made a mistake by not ordering more troops there last year.

People at an electronics store in Maryland watch US President George W. Bush give a televised address on his new plan for the war in Iraq. Bush ordered more than 20,000 more troops into Iraq, as he admitted to mistakes there and warned Iraqi leaders they would lose US support if they failed to quell the violence. [AFP]
People at an electronics store in Maryland watch US President George W. Bush give a televised address on his new plan for the war in Iraq. Bush ordered more than 20,000 more troops into Iraq, as he admitted to mistakes there and warned Iraqi leaders they would lose US support if they failed to quell the violence. [AFP]

"He's still apologizing for what's going on so far and almost apologizing in advance for what's going on afterwards," said Dave Berndt, 48, an office manager from Shorewood, Wis., who watched Bush's address to the nation from Miss Katie's diner in Milwaukee.

Nearby, bartender Joe Sardino was more blunt: "I think this is a Band-Aid on a large wound."

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 life.

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, nearly four years into the conflict.

"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.

"We either have to get the troops in there to get the job done or bring them home," Muller said.

George Payntar, 57, a Vietnam veteran watching the speech at an American Legion post in Killeen, Texas, said he supports Bush's plan.

"I think we need to stop the terrorism, stop it there," Payntar said. "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 support.

"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 little hope."



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