Friday, December 09, 2005

Dean says new Iraq strategy needed

Dean says new Iraq strategy needed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Party chief Howard Dean said on Thursday his comment that the United States could not win the war in Iraq was reported "a little out of context," but a new strategy would be needed to triumph there.

Dean was attacked by President George W. Bush and Republicans earlier this week for telling a Texas radio station that "the idea we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is plain wrong."

"It was a little out of context. They kind of cherry-picked that one the same way the president cherry-picked the intelligence going into Iraq," Dean told CNN.

"We can only win the war, which we have to win, if we change our strategy dramatically," he said. "We can and we have to win the war on terror. We can't do it with this approach, with this leadership the president is showing."

Democrats have offered a range of ideas on Iraq, from quick withdrawal of troops to a gradual drawdown to Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman's backing of Bush.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Dean's remarks reflected the Democratic Party's problem developing an approach to Iraq.

"You have a lot of disarray and disagreement within the Democratic Party," he said. While Bush emphasized a plan for victory, he said, Democrats emphasized "immediate withdrawal of troops or artificial timetables. That's a plan for defeat."

Dean said Democrats were beginning to rally around a concept of strategic redeployment in Iraq. That plan would gradually phase out most U.S. troops over the next two years, withdraw them from urban areas and bring home National Guard forces within six months.

The idea that Democrats do not have a coherent plan for the future of Iraq was "mostly press gobbledygook," Dean said.

"The press wants to focus on the differences. The differences are pretty small, perhaps Senator Lieberman excepted," he said. "We may have some small disagreements on timing. We know the direction we're going on is a very different direction than the president."