The White House has gone on the offensive to sell President George Bush’s plan for a boost in American troops in Iraq.
The first salvo came from the Commander in Chief himself – a medal of honour for a marine corporal killed protecting his fellows.
Bush travels to Georgia on Friday to defend his plan to send close to 22,000 soldiers to the country.
He said: “Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”
Voters and politicians alike have questioned the value of a troop increase.
Democrat Senator Joseph Biden called it a “tragic mistake”.
“I don’t think we’ve faced a more pivotal moment than the one we face today. Failure in Iraq will not be confined to Iraq. It will do terrible damage to our ability to protect our interests all over the world and I fear for a long time to come,” Senator Biden said.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice launched her counter attack, saying the plan put Iraqis under more pressure to take over their own security.
“The responsibility for what kind of Iraq this will be rests with Iraqis. They are the only ones who can decide whether or not Iraq is going to be an Iraq for all Iraqis,” Condoleeza Rice said.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates says the troops will be deployed in waves and may not even go if the Iraqi government does not deliver on a commitment to stamp out insurgents, regardless of their allegiances.