On the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, President Bush says he has confidence in the United States' strategy there.
The president traveled to Ohio to speak to the City Club of Cleveland about the progress of the conflict and the challenges ahead. He was there to rebut the widespread impression of violence escalating into an Iraqi civil war. Over the weekend, former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Iraq is already in a state of civil war, something the Bush administration strongly denies.
During Monday's speech, Mr. Bush said there are clear signs of progress in Iraq. He pointed to success in pacifying an insurgent stronghold in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, near the Syrian border. He said electricity and water service were being restored, markets were reopening, and the city was "coming back to life."
"The strategy that worked so well in Tal Afar did not emerge overnight," the president said. "It took time to understand and adjust to the brutality of the enemy in Iraq."
"The example of Tal Afar gives me confidence in our strategy," he said.
For nearly an hour, President Bush took unscripted questions from the audience at the City Club, an unusual move for him. Other than Iraq, some of the issues addressed included the president's warrantless wiretapping program and plans for immigration reform.