Bush Sticking to Guns in Iraq; Dems Volley With Defiant Vote

Soon after President Bush laid out his reasons for sticking to his guns in Iraq Thursday, the House of Representatives sent a defiant message back.

Voting along party lines, the House passed legislation that would require the withdrawal of most combat troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008.

The Senate must still approve the measure, and Bush, who seems confident history will prove him right on his decision in Iraq, will likely veto it.

"When it's all said and done, if you ever come down and visit the old, tired me down there in Crawford, I will be able to say, 'I looked in the mirror and made decisions based upon principle,'" Bush said in a news conference Thursday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today on "Good Morning America" that the administration was putting pressure on the Iraqi government to take responsibility for the country.

The Iraqis have made some important progress, Rice said, such as "bringing security forces to the fight -- security forces that still need a lot of help -- but security forces beginning to turn the tide against sectarian violence because they're acting in a less sectarian way."

Rice said that in another important development the sheikhs in the notoriously violent al-Anbar province were turning against al Qaeda.

"They're taking back their streets from the terrorists, and doing it in coordination and cooperation with American forces," Rice said.

What Will History Say?

In his news conference Thursday, the president acknowledged that the United States was suffering from war fatigue, but he stopped short of accepting full responsibility for any possible mistakes.

He was asked whether he should have sent more troops to Iraq from the start, or should have foreseen the sectarian strife that has followed.

"Those are all legitimate questions that I'm sure historians will analyze," Bush said.

He suggested historians should take a hard look at the general in charge at the time.

"My primary question to Gen. [Tommy] Franks was, 'Do you have what it takes to succeed? And do you have what it takes to succeed after you succeed in removing Saddam Hussein?' And his answer was, 'Yeah,'" Bush said.

Bush now argues a different general, David Petraeus, the current top U.S. commander in Iraq, should make the call on how many troops should stay in Iraq and for how long.

"I'm going to wait to see what [Gen.] David [Petraeus] has to say. I'm not going to prejudge what he may say. I trust David Petraeus' judgment," Bush said.

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan said history might not be kind to the Bush presidency.

"We don't know what the Bush legacy is now because we don't know for certain how the war is going to come out," Buchanan said. "But, clearly, it does not look good for the United States or for the president's place in history."

Rice said time will tell.

"I know enough to know myself, as an historian, that today's headlines are rarely the same as history's judgment," she said. "I think that's going to be the case here as well."

For now the president is trying to buy time until Petraeus' report comes out in September.

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