In a televised speech to the nation, President George W. Bush outlined a new strategy for Iraq. The most urgent priority, said Mr. Bush, is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within thirty miles of the capital. The violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis.
It is up to the Iraqis, said President Bush, to end the sectarian violence and secure their country. In an effort to do so, the Iraqi government said it will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for the capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi army and national police brigades throughout Baghdad. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.
But for the new plan to work, the Iraqis will need U.S. help, said President Bush:
"This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than twenty thousand additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."
Unlike in the past, the U.S. will have the force levels necessary to hold the areas that have been cleared of insurgents. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. "This time," said Mr. Bush, "Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods."
"America's commitment," said President Bush, "is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now," said Mr. Bush, "is the time to act."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.