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Debate on Iraq troops intensifies on Capitol Hill

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Debate on Iraq troops intensifies on Capitol Hill


With the White House and the US Congress on a collision course over Iraq, President Bush’s new choice as top commander in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, has said America needs to adopt a new approach to the war quickly: “The situation in Iraq is serious and clearly in need of new and different actions. I believe the situation in Iraq can be turned around, but time is short. There are no guarantees, but you can depend on me for my best effort,” he said.

In a vote next week the Senate is expected to oppose Bush’s decision to send more than 20,000 extra troops to Iraq. But there is a debate on who has the final say. Senator Arlen Specter said: “I would suggest respectfully to the President that he is not the sole decider, that the decider is a shared and joint responsibility.”

Many in Congress are calling for a greater diplomatic effort. James Baker helped devise the new Iraq Strategy: “There is no action the American military can take that by itself can bring success in Iraq,” he said.

A Senate resolution opposing the troop deployment would not be binding but legislation to cut funds would be. However, any such move would be highly controversial while US forces are involved in overseas combat. The divisions in the country were laid bare in one Iraq hearing which was interrupted by protesters.

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