US President George W. Bush was expected in a speech yesterday to ask those impatient and frustrated by the Iraq War to take a long view of the conflict, promising history would prove naysayers wrong.
In advance excerpts of his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush depicted the Iraq war like decades-old US conflicts in Asia -- ones that he said lost popular backing but eventually proved their worth.
"The ideals and interests that led America to help the Japanese turn defeat into democracy are the same that lead us to remain engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said in the excerpts.
"The defense strategy that refused to hand the South Koreans over to a totalitarian neighbor helped raise up an Asian Tiger,'' Bush said.
Bush even cited Vietnam as a cautionary tale for those urging troop withdrawals today.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed Bush's comparison.
"President Bush's attempt to compare the war in Iraq to past military conflicts in East Asia ignores the fundamental difference," he said. "Our nation was misled by the Bush administration in an effort to gain support for the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, leading to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our history."
In related news, a truck bomber targeted a police agency in northern Iraq, killing at least 19 people and wounding 26, police said.
The attack occurred in Beiji and many of the casualties were civilians, they said.
Meanwhile, a US helicopter went down in northern Iraq yesterday, killing all 14 aboard, the military said. Initial indications showed the aircraft experienced a mechanical problem.
With violence unrelenting, political pressure mounted for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to bring battling factions together.
Al-Maliki lashed out at the US criticism yesterday while in Syria, saying "no one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people."