Douglas stresses exit strategy for Iraq

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he’s not persuaded that President Bush’s plan to send additional troops to Iraq is a good idea.

Bush has announced plans to increase the number of combat troops in Iraq by roughly 22,000 over the next few months.

Speaking to reporters at a Statehouse press conference, Douglas said he’s believed for some time that the United States needs to develop an exit strategy from Iraq:

(Douglas) “So I believe we need to find a way to extricate ourselves from that involvement as quickly as we can. I’m not a military expert but intuitively it doesn’t seem to me that an escalation of our involvement by a surge of additional armed forces would lead toward an exit strategy. So it doesn’t seem to me to be a step in the right direction from where I believe we need to go.”

(Host) Douglas says the biggest problem in Iraq is the failure of the Iraqi military to step up and take greater responsibility for the overall security of the country:

(Douglas) “It doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It’s very frustrating for most people to see a lack of progress. If we were there for this length of time and there was some obvious forward progress toward a resolution, I think most Americans would feel differently. But I don’t think we see that.”

(Host) Douglas says he plans to convey his feelings to the President when he sees Bush next month at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

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