U.S. President George W. Bush issued an impassioned plea to Congress on Monday for emergency cash to boost efforts in the Middle East.
In an emotive speech, Mr. Bush said the consequences of failure in Iraq “would be death and destruction in Iraq” and in the United States.
“Congress needs to put partisanship on hold. Send me an emergency spending bill that I can sign that gives our troops the support they need and gives the commanders the tools they need to complete this mission,” Mr. Bush said.
The call came on the same day that England distanced itself from Mr. Bush’s “war on terror” mantra.
British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn rejected the phrase “war on terror” while speaking at the Centre for International Co-operation think tank in New York.
“In the U.K., we do not use the phrase ‘war on terror’ because we can’t win by military means alone, and because this isn’t us against one organized enemy with a clear identity and coherent set of objectives,” he said.
“What these (terrorist) groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others, without dialogue, without debate, through violence. And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength.”
But that is far removed from the picture Mr. Bush painted from the White House, where he referred to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and warned of dire consequences if Congress does not issue him a bigger war chest.
Surrounded by families of veterans, Mr. Bush sought to set expectations for his meeting this Wednesday with congressional leaders of both parties.
In particular, he sought to put pressure on Democratic lawmakers to fund the war without trying to limit or wind down the military mission.
“I understand Republicans and Democrats in Washington have differences over the best course in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said. “That’s healthy. That’s normal, and we should debate those differences. But our troops should not be caught in the middle.
“I’m looking forward to the meeting. I hope the Democratic leadership will drop its unreasonable demand for a precipitous withdrawal.”
Repeatedly referring to the troops in Iraq, Mr. Bush said the Democrats were passing “unacceptable bills” that put money into domestic programs instead of into the overseas war effort.
“We owe it to a future generation of Americans to help secure peace,” he said, adding that enemies “could just as easily come here to kill us.”
Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed bills to fund the war and start drawing troops home. They are expected this to week to begin negotiating a final version to send to Mr. Bush.
He has pledged to veto it if it is not stripped of the provisions that he opposes. Globe and Mail Update, Reuters and Associated Press