Bush claims US is winning Iraq war


US president George W Bush claimed last night the United States is winning the war in Iraq.

In a prime-time televised address, Bush acknowledged setbacks and sacrifice and cautioned there would be more violence and death in the months ahead. "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," he said.

Struggling to build confidence in his policy, the president held out hopes for withdrawing American forces as Iraqi troops gain strength and experience. After the address, Sen. Edward Kennedy said it was wrong for Bush "to attempt to silence his critics by calling them defeatists."

The president spoke from the Oval Office, where in March 2003, he announced the US-led invasion. Nearly three years later, more than 2,150 US soldiers have died, Bush's popularity has plummeted and about half of Americans think the war was a mistake.

Yet a strong majority oppose an immediate withdrawal of US forces. The address came on the heels of four major speeches in which Bush acknowledged setbacks and surprises in the war and took responsibility for ordering the invasion on the basis of inaccurate intelligence.

The admissions were part of a White House effort to address complaints that Bush lacked a solid strategy for the war and has been oblivious to the violence that Americans plainly see on television. "I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss and not one of those decisions has been taken lightly," he said.

"I know that this war is controversial, yet being your president requires doing what I believe is right and accepting the consequences." Bush said last week's voting for parliament will not bring an end to the violence in Iraq, where he has estimated that 30,000 civilians have died. But he said Iraq's election, 6,000 miles away, "means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror."