Bush Plans Pursuit of War on Own Terms

Despite all the criticism surrounding him, President Bush thinks he's still in a commanding position to pursue the war in Iraq as he sees fit.

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Despite all the criticism surrounding him, President Bush thinks he's still in a commanding position to pursue the war in Iraq as he sees fit.

Other issues have gotten more headlines lately in Washington, especially his veto of the children's healthcare bill last week. But behind the scenes, Bush believes the antiwar sentiment in Congress and among many Americans, as seen in the opinion polls, won't be enough to derail his Iraq policy or force a military drawdown beyond where Bush wants to go.

"The commander in chief should be in the driver's seat"—and that's precisely where he is, a senior Bush adviser told U.S. News. Looking back on recent weeks, White House insiders say Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, provided just the tonic that Bush needed to keep critics in line, both in his congressional testimony arguing that the surge of troops has been working and in actually carrying out the president's policy on the ground.

"General Petraeus has done a fantastic job," says a senior U.S. official who is close to Bush. "The trends are going in the right direction." If anything, White House officials think Petraeus's impact was underestimated at the time of his testimony.

—Kenneth T. Walsh