White House Rejects Call for Iraq Pullout

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By: E&P Staff

In an Op Ed for The New York Times on Wedsnesday, Sen. John Kerry broke ranks with most of his Democratic colleagues in proposing not one but two ?deadlines? for a U.S. exit in Iraq.

A few hours later, the White House, via Press Secretary Scott McClellan, threw cold water all over any pleadings for a pullout. McClellan repeated President Bush’s oft-stated assertion that most Americans won?t be satisfied with anything less than a clear cut ?victory? in Iraq. Pulling out soon would be “retreating,” he said, and “we will not lose our nerve.”

Kerry, on the other hand, had recalled that half of those killed in the war in which he served, Vietnam, died after Americans came to believe our strategy was off-course there. He proposed two deadlines this year: May 15 (when Iraqi leaders must form a true unity government or we will immediately exit); and Dec. 31 (if the unity government does come to be, we pull out all combat troops by this date, leaving behind troops to train Iraqis).

On Tuesday, voters in 24 Wisconsin towns and villages voted to start bringing the troops home now, a greater victory than supporters of the referendum had hoped to get.

But McClellan, asked by reporters today about fresh calls for a U.S. withdrawal, said, ?I think all Americans want our troops to come home. I think most Americans recognize the importance of succeeding in Iraq, as well. And I think most Americans want to see our troops achieve victory. And that’s what’s important. It’s important that the Iraqi leaders continue to move forward and form a unity government that is based on strong leadership and represents — that represents all Iraqis.

?And that’s — and we are continuing to keep our focus on the strategy for victory that the President has outlined. The worst thing we could do is withdraw before the mission is complete. And that would be retreating. And that’s exactly what the terrorists want us to do. But they cannot shake our will. They cannot — we will not lose our nerve. The President understands the importance of a free Iraq for laying the foundations of peace for generations to come.?

Kerry had concluded his Op Ed by declaring that with a get-tough policy on deadlines, “We can put the American leadership on the side of our soldiers and push the Iraqi leadership to do what only it can do: build a democracy.”

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