Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Democrat Casey pans Bush, Republicans over Iraq

AP , WASHINGTON

A Democratic senator accused US President George W. Bush and congressional Republicans of hindering his party's attempts to chart a new course in Iraq even though US troops are fighting violence "they cannot possibly resolve."

Senator Bob Casey said increased troop levels ordered earlier this year to give Iraqi politicians breathing space to meet political and diplomatic goals have not had the intended result.

"That means our troops are fighting for a peace that we seem more interested in achieving than the Iraqi politicians do themselves," Casey said while delivering the Democrats' weekly radio address.

The White House has said there have been positive developments in Iraq, such as a reduction in violence and increased economic capacity.

On Friday, Senate Republicans blocked a US$50 billion Democratic bill that would have paid for several months of combat. It also would have ordered troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin within 30 days and set a goal of ending combat in December next year.

Democrats now plan to sit on Bush's US$196 billion request for war spending until next year, which pushes the Pentagon toward an accounting nightmare.

Bush has said Congress should not be telling military leaders what to do.

Casey said the war is costing Americans at all levels. More than 3,800 US troops have died in Iraq -- 178 from his home state of Pennsylvania. Democratic Representatives on Congress' Joint Economic Committee estimated this past week that more than US$1 trillion will have been spent on the war through next year. About 170,000 troops will spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Iraq, Casey said.

"They will face hatred they did not create and sectarian violence they cannot possibly resolve," Casey said.

"They are doing a remarkable job, a heroic job, but the Iraqi leaders are not holding up their end of the bargain," he said.

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