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Sen. Reed: Bush 'Overly Optimistic' on Iraq

President Bush outlined a mixed interim progress report on Iraq, emphasizing his belief that peace can be secured there. He also warned of the dangers of pulling American troops out too soon, and said that Congress "ought not to be running the war."

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Armed Services Committee, says the president needs to cooperate with Congress on a strategy to end the war. Reed told NPR's Melissa Block, "I think they're being overly optimistic, and I think the critical issue, the political capacity of the government, still is lacking and inadequate. And that is the most decisive issue."

Reed is the co-author, along with Sen. Carl Levin, of legislation calling for a drawdown of U.S. troops to begin within four months. Reed has just returned from his 10th trip to Iraq.

The National Security Council has concluded that the Iraqis are making satisfactory progress on eight benchmarks, with unsatisfactory progress on another eight and mixed results on two.

In a news conference, President Bush said he will make no decisions on possible troop withdrawals at least until September, when Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, gives his security report.

Asked about the White House view of the situation Iraq, Reed said, "By and large, it's a very mixed result. And I don't think it represents the kind of progress that the president was hoping for, honestly, when he increased the size of our forces there."

Reed recommends a phased withdrawal from Iraq, one managed by President Bush and his military commanders.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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