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  • Print readers respond to Bush's speech on Iraq

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  • Bush addressed the nation Thursday about the progress of the Iraq war
  • President said 5,700 troops home by Christmas
  • Bush says Iraqi government has not met benchmarks
  • readers share their thoughts on Bush's speech, troop reduction
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(CNN) -- President Bush said Thursday night that conditions in Iraq have improved sufficiently to start reducing the number of U.S. troops there, and urged Americans, divided over the war, to "come together."


President Bush tells the nation Thursday night that 5,700 U.S. soldiers in Iraq will be sent home by Christmas.

In a televised speech to the nation, Bush said he would reduce U.S. force strength by 5,700 troops by Christmas and, by next July, reduce the number of combat brigades from 20 to 15 -- a decrease of roughly 21,500 combat troops overall.

In January, Bush had ordered that about 30,000 additional troops be sent to Iraq, which he called a "surge." Those troops began to go to Iraq in February.

We asked readers to share their thoughts on the president's speech -- and most of the e-mails our editors were able to read were negative. However, here is a selection of both positive and negative responses -- with some edited for length and clarity.

Brittany Powlison of Berea, Kentucky
I know the plan President Bush drew out is not popular with the Democratic Party. However, to me it looks like he did compromise and that he is [bringing] some troops home. When did war become a video game we can just turn off whenever we want to? As a country we have to be responsible to those we have made promises to (i.e. the Iraqi people.) I think it's a wise move that President Bush doesn't take all our troops out at once for the sake of Iraq, its people, and the stability of the government in Iraq.

Jacqueline Satterfield of Philadelphia, New York
This administration is trying to fool everyone again. The 5,700 troops that are coming home for Christmas are troops that were supposed to come home in a normal rotation -- I know because my husband is one of those troops! That would be 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York. It only looks like it's a concession to the public demand for our troops to start coming home. It's NOT!

Brenda Tomlin of House Springs, Missouri
I think President Bush is doing a fine job. He is doing what he needs to finish this war. He knows America needs protection and he is doing what is right.

Ann Davis of Bryant, Arizona
It seems every time Bush opens his mouth it gets wider for his foot. His learning disabilities continue -- now he has problems counting.

G. Douglas Clarke of Alfred Station, New York
The resident of the White House is claiming credit for troop reductions that would have happened without his orders. He's saying that when things don't get worse, that's improvement. He finally admitted that he plans to leave troops occupying Iraq for decades to come, but wants middle-class Americans to pay for it. I'm not buying any of it.

Al Paglia of Wellington, Florida
I commend the president for staying the course and holding the Iraq government's leaders to the fire. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. At least Mr. Bush has the strength to stand up to these radicals and show them we will not back down. It is unpopular to keep our military overseas but I am encouraged since the surge began and to undercut it dramatically now would be a huge mistake.

Let him follow the military commander's advice and at the same time keep pressure on the new Iraq government and things will keep improving. He is starting to bring home some troops which speaks well for him.

Carol Hetman of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Bush really upset me with one big lie last night. He says he is bringing troops home next month and that he plans to bring more home next spring. The troops he is bringing home are on the rotation. He doesn't tell you that more troops are going back to replace the ones he is bringing home. Show us proof that the troops he is bringing home are not being replaced. And that the troops he is talking about are not the ones on Marine Corps rotation.

How about really bringing troops home? There is a difference in bringing troops home and just talking about the Marine Corps rotation. Let's try to bring troops home and not replace them. Let's try to stop lying to the American people. Let's try to let Iraq run [itself] and fix our own country before we force ourselves on others. Really pull back and allow them to find out what works for them -- and if it isn't democracy then that is just fine. Bring our troops home, soon and safe!

Robert Parker of Santa Monica, California
Bush urged Americans divided over the war to "come together." Someone forgot to tell him most of America is not divided over the war: we want out.

But it is so sad to see how many do still support this fiasco -- out of ignorance. This is precisely why we need to demand that one month's worth of Iraq's war fund go to funding teachers and education. And history should be a requirement for all college degrees. This period of history will be looked back upon as a time when people were really stupid generally and easily manipulated.

Michael Short of Atlanta, Georgia
There is strong evidence that, from the start of the Iraq war, Bush intended to have troops in Iraq through the end of his presidency. His messages to America have been a masterful display of misdirection. Whether or not, in their private councils, he and his government foresaw the disastrous effects of the war, I am sick at heart to see the lie perpetuated and to see the cavalier glossing over of the true state of Iraq and horrible mess we have made of things.

Things weren't good in 2003; they've gotten much, much worse. I feel certain that the 36 percent of America that still supports Bush, forced to walk the proverbial mile -- or in this case, four years -- in the shoes of a Baghdad Iraqi, would realize they are wrong to support this man's policies. Unless they believe that one American [life] is worth at least 100 dead foreigners and that it is America's right to hog the world's resources, irrespective of where they're found.

Gary Marcy of Scott City, Kansas
What a direct and straightforward speech. It's too bad Jack Reed didn't listen to it. He must have been busy primping in the bathroom and practicing his Democrat response. I thought President Bush did a superb job of laying the facts out in an organized manner, easy for all to understand --- and that's no small feat considering the trouble he has reading from a tele-prompter.

Where President Bush emphasized the positive aspects of the progress made so far, Mr. Reed could only dwell on the negative, as so many other Democrats have done in their endless drivel and whining sound bites and speeches -- always addressing how negative this war on terrorists and state-sponsored terrorism is being waged. Thank God the voters will have the last word on these matters.

Rob Haines of Erie, Pennsylvania
The president seems unable to accept that thousands of Iraqis who are trying to flee Iraq. Now that Syria has for all intents and purposes closed its borders, those people are trapped. Rhetoric without substance. [Reporters] should be asking the administration to provide facts and figures to support claims made by W.

William Zeitler of McLean, Virginia
Very disappointed. It now looks like Bush wanted to have a substantial permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq all along, but didn't want to tell the American people.


It is Bush who is exacerbating the violence in Iraq by keeping [U.S.] troops there as an occupying force. The more troops there are in Iraq, the greater the violence and the greater justification for additional U.S. troops to quell the violence. So if we follow the Bush policy, there will be a never-ending cycle of violence and the troops will never come. Some legacy.

Clyde Gault of Ocala, Florida
Well-written and very well-done. I am proud to have a president who stands on principle instead of checking to see if the idea is popular or not. Thanks to him for a job well-done. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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