Rumsfeld claims Iraq is not a quagmire

As Baghdad reeled from a deadly new spate of bombings, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, insisted that the US was not losing the war in Iraq. But the top US regional commander said the insurgency was undiminished, and ever more foreign fighters were entering the country.

In sombre and sometimes highly charged exchanges with a key congressional panel yesterday, Mr Rumsfeld rejected demands that the Bush administration set a timetable for the withdrawal of the 140,000 US troopsin Iraq.

"Timing in war is never predictable; there are never any guarantees," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. A timetable would play into the hands of the resistance. "Those who say we are losing this war are wrong. We are not." Mr Rumsfeld was flanked at the witness table by the Pentagon's most senior uniformed officials, including General John Abizaid, in overall charge of operations in the Gulf. Their appearance came as the Bush administration's Iraq policy faces unprecedented difficulties, amid rising violence on the ground, growing US casualties and dwindling public support for the war.

More than 30 people have died in eight bombings in Iraq in the past 36 hours, while a leaked CIA report has warned the country is turning into an even more effective training ground for terrorists than Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Pentagon commanders are worried about the growing sophistication of the bombs and other devices used against US troops. More than 1,700 US soldiers have died in Iraq, and more than 10,000 have been wounded, while hardly a day passes without new reports of problems in attracting new recruits to bolster an overstretched military.

The fiercest questioning yesterday came from Democrats, led by Edward Kennedy. "Isn't it time for you to resign?" asked the Massachusetts senator, blaming Mr Rumsfeld for a series of "gross errors and mistakes" that had made an "intractable quagmire".

The Defence Secretary and his colleagues vehemently rejected the dreaded "Q word", so redolent of Vietnam. But "more foreign fighters are coming into Iraq than there were six months ago," General Abizaid conceded, implicitly contradicting Vice-President Dick Cheney's recent assertion that the insurgency was "in its last throes".

Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the committee, seized on the discrepancy, claiming it as further proof the administration was refusing to face facts. "I don't know that I would make any comment about that other than to say there's a lot of work to be done," was all General Abizaid could say.

Joe Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned: "The security situation has got worse rather than better, and the President has got to level with the American people. More jihadists, more al- Qa'ida operatives, are crossing the Syrian border into Iraq."

The United States could still win in Iraq, he added, "but only if the White House corrects course, rather than just promising to 'stay the course'."

Mr Biden, who has all but declared he will run for the presidency in 2008, was speaking after a meeting with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who holds talks with President Bush today.

Several leading Republicans too have accused the administration of painting an over-rosy picture of events in Iraq.

Public disillusion over Iraq has driven Mr Bush's approval ratings down to little over 40 per cent, the lowest of any second-term president since Richard Nixon. He is expected to make a major speech on Iraq early next week, to mark the first anniversary of the handover of government to Iraqis.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices