US President George W. Bush said on Wednesday he had no regrets about the unpopular war in Iraq despite the "high cost in lives and treasure" and declared that the United States was on track for a major victory there.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led occupation with a touch of the swagger he showed early in the war, Bush said in a speech at the Pentagon, "The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable."
With less than 11 months left in office and his approval ratings near the lows of his presidency, Bush is trying to shore up support for the Iraq campaign, which has damaged U.S. credibility abroad and is sure to define his legacy.
But he faced the challenge of winning the attention of Americans more preoccupied with mounting economic troubles and increasingly focused on the race to pick his successor in the November election.
Bush's Democratic critics used the anniversary as a chance to reassert accusations that Bush launched the invasion based on faulty intelligence, mismanaged the war and failed to put together an exit strategy.
"Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it," Bush said.
"The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around -- it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror," Bush said.
Bush said, "No one would argue that this war has not come at a high cost in lives and treasure, but those costs are necessary when we consider the cost of a strategic victory for our enemies in Iraq," he said.
Not all anniversary assessments were as upbeat as Bush's. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the war was not worth waging.
Told about the poll result in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," Vice President Dick Cheney, in Oman after a visit to Iraq, said: "So?" He added: "I think we cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations of the public opinion polls."
The war has cost the United States $500 billion. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and millions displaced. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed, as well as 175 British troops and 134 from other countries.
Last Mod: 19 Mart 2008, 16:49