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'America Must Not Fail in Iraq' Is Bush's Warning

In his State of the Union speech, the president urges Congress and the American people to give his plan a chance to work. Democrats call for diplomatic efforts to end the war. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

President Bush gave his two thousand seven State of the Union speech to Congress and the American people Tuesday night.

On the nation's most pressing issue, he said "America must not fail in Iraq." He defended his plan to send more than twenty thousand additional troops there. He warned that if American forces leave Iraq before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would fall to extremists.

He said nothing is more important to America right now than to succeed in Iraq and the Middle East.

On other foreign policy issues, Mister Bush said the United States will continue to speak out for freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus and Burma. And continue to call on the world to save the people of Darfur, Sudan.

Mister Bush has two years left in office. This was the Republican president's first speech to a Democratic-controlled Congress.

On policy issues at home, he announced proposals to help more Americans get health insurance. And he called for a twenty percent cut in the nation's gasoline use within ten years, to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

To reach this goal, he said there must be improved fuel economy in cars and higher requirements for renewable and alternative fuels. He said new energy technologies being developed will also help deal with, in his words, "the serious challenge of global climate change."

On other issues, he renewed his call for immigration reform including a temporary worker program. And he said he will propose a budget that would end the federal deficit within five years.

The president faces low public approval ratings and high disapproval of his plan for more troops in Iraq. Democrats and some Republicans in Congress oppose the idea.

The Democratic Party chose newly elected Senator Jim Webb of Virginia to give its official reaction to the State of the Union speech. His son is a Marine serving in Iraq. Senator Webb called for a "new direction," including an immediate move toward strong diplomacy to end the war.

On Friday, the Senate confirmed Army General David Petraeus as the new commander of American troops in Iraq. There were no dissenting votes.

But that was two days after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution to oppose a troop increase as not in the national interest. The measure is without legal force. The vote was twelve to nine; the full Senate is expected to debate the resolution next week. A similar one is planned in the House of Representatives.

At the White House, President Bush said Friday that he chose a plan that he thinks is most likely to succeed. "I'm the decision-maker," he said. He told reporters that most of the people in Congress recognize that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States. Some are condemning a plan before it has even had a chance to work, he said. In that case, Mister Bush says they have a responsibility to put up their own plan.

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.