December 4th, 2006 06:43 EST
Security Advisor Says, U.S. Reviewing Tactics in Iraq, Not Goals
Washington -- President Bush is conducting a broad review of how U.S. policy should adapt to new circumstances in Iraq, but the United States is not changing its fundamental goal of helping establish a democratic Iraq that can defend itself against terrorism and sectarian violence, according to National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley.
Appearing on several television news programs December 3, Hadley said that at their November meeting in Amman, Jordan, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told President Bush that the Iraqi government wants to take more responsibility for its own security. Maliki and Bush then reviewed how the United States could help Iraq achieve the capabilities necessary to meet those responsibilities, according to Hadley. (See related article.)
The Iraqis "have begun to lay out some of the plans they have for taking more responsibility with respect to security forces, with respect to security in Baghdad, with respect to economics," Hadley said on ABC's This Week. "They want the responsibility. There are things we need to do to enhance their capabilities to do that. But I think the positive thing is the Iraqis are stepping up."
Hadley characterized a memo written by outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as offering a series of policy options, which is part of President Bush's effort to conduct a broad policy review at a time when the situation on the ground in Iraq has been changing rapidly.
"Secretary Rumsfeld basically was giving a list for consideration," Hadley said on CBS' Face the Nation. "It was a useful and constructive memo, but it was not a proposal for a new course of action. It was much more a list of things that needed to be considered."
On NBC's Meet the Press, Hadley acknowledged the need for changes in the U.S. role in Iraq. "The president has said that what is going on in Iraq is not going well enough or fast enough," according to Hadley. "The president said we need to make changes. Some of those changes are going to be significant."
In all his interviews, Hadley reiterated that Bush recognizes new challenges in Iraq -- such as increased sectarian violence -- as well as new opportunities, with an Iraqi government of national unity that is eager to take increased responsibility for its own future.
At the same time, according to Hadley, the United States is not wavering in its goal of securing a united, democratic Iraq that is neither a base for terrorism nor a threat to its neighbors.
"The goal remains the same," Hadley said on NBC's Meet the Press. "It's a goal that we share, that Iraqis share, and Iraq -- a democratic Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself as an ally on the war on terror."
Hadley said that, in their Amman meeting, Maliki briefed Bush on the government's plans to accelerate the training, equipping and transferring of responsibility to Iraqi security forces.
"Our commanders have looked at that plan, they think it is ambitious," Hadley said on NBC's Meet the Press. "We're going to do everything we can to try and help him achieve those goals." (See related article.)
In an interview from Baghdad on CNN's Late Edition, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that Maliki fully understands the necessity of bringing the militias, death squads and other unauthorized armed groups under control, but that Maliki has said he lacks the tools to confront them.
"We are going to help him acquire those tools by accelerating the build-up of his forces and transferring those forces to him," Khalilzad said.
Asked about the role of Iran and Syria in the current violence, Hadley said that the Iraqi government has been actively talking with both countries about the ways in which they have supported groups that have been attacking the government.
"The Iraqis have made it clear they would like to be in the lead in conversations with those two countries about Iraq," Hadley said on CBS' Face the Nation. "We obviously respect that. They are a sovereign government." (See related article.)
The primary struggle in the region is between moderates and extremists, Khalilzad observed. "And there are occasions where the extremists get a lot of help from countries like Iran or Syria, or from international networks such as al Qaida."
Hadley refused to speculate about whether Bush will endorse the upcoming recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former House Foreign Affairs (now International Relations) Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, which call for a redeployment and reduction in U.S. combat troops over the next year, according to news reports.
The Baker-Hamilton report will be an important element in the administration's policy review, Hadley said. At the same time, "[w]e want to hear what Republican and Democratic leaders say on the Hill," Hadley said on ABC's This Week. "He'll want to hear more of what the Iraqi government wants to do. All of these things he will put together in a way forward on Iraq." (See related article.)
Asked on NBC's Meet the Press about the role of al Qaida, Hadley acknowledged that, while the terrorist group remains responsible for only a small portion of acts of current violence in Iraq, "they are responsible for some of most heinous instances -- the car bombings and other things that result in the massive civilian casualties, and it is those casualties and those incidents that have provoked the reprisals."
"It's very important for the American people to understand that there is a key al Qaida piece in all of this, and that is why one of the principal responsibilities we have, the challenges we have, is to deal with al Qaida in Iraq," he said.
A transcript of Hadley's interview on NBC's Meet the Press is available on the network's Web site.
A transcript of Khalilzad's interview on CNN is available on the network's Web site.
For more information on U.S. policy, see Iraq Update.
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