President Bush stood by his Iraq plan on Saturday.
(CNN)–The state of U.S. involvement in Iraq following the much anticipated testimony this week from General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, was the talk of the airwaves Saturday.
President Bush used his weekly radio address to re-affirm the plan he laid out to the nation in a televised address Thursday night.
"I have accepted General Petraeus's recommendations. And I have directed that he and Ambassador Crocker deliver another report to Congress in March," Mr. Bush said. "At that time, they will provide a fresh assessment of the situation in Iraq and of the troop levels we need to meet our national security objectives. The principle that guides my decisions on troop levels is "return on success." The more successful we are, the more troops can return home. And in all we do, I will ensure that our commanders on the ground have the troops and flexibility they need to defeat the enemy."
The president went on to say the outcome in Iraq is important.
"The success of a free Iraq is critical to the security of the United States," he said. "If we were to be driven out of Iraq, extremists of all strains would be emboldened. Al Qaeda could find new recruits and new sanctuaries. And a failed Iraq could increase the likelihood that our forces would someday have to return - and confront extremists even more entrenched and even more deadly. By contrast, a free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. It will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran. And it will serve as a partner in the fight against terrorism."
Delivering the response for the Democrats, Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said the 'surge' strategy announced earlier in the year by the president, was a failure.
"Strategically, the escalation has failed," the Democrat from California said. "It was intended to buy time for Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and the other Iraqi political leaders to find ways to move toward the one thing that may end this terrible civil conflict – a political settlement. As best we can see, that time has been utterly squandered. Prime Minister Maliki has not shown the slightest inclination to move in the direction of compromise."
"To win the war against international terrorism, we must stop frittering away our resources – military, diplomatic, and economic – on an endless religious war in Iraq," Lantos said.
Lantos also criticized the administration for continuing to "stay the course" in Iraq in the wake of other issues back home. "The war is also forcing us to give short shrift to pressing domestic needs such as health care, crumbling infrastructure, and public education. These costs will be passed on to our grandchildren, and beyond."
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford