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BAGHDAD - In his first wide-ranging interview, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq conceded Sunday that a military "surge" would not be enough to rescue Iraq, advocating economic and political changes as well, as top Democratic lawmakers in Washington toughened their opposition to any increase in U.S. troop strength.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he believed that a combination of jobs, provincial elections, anti-militia legislation and stronger Iraqi security forces could stop the nation's plunge toward all-out civil war. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, his predecessor, spelled out the same approach before his departure one month ago.
By echoing his predecessor, Odierno's comments raised concerns in Washington and Iraq that the U.S. war effort is exhausting old tactics that haven't worked. Indeed, many Iraqis do not trust that a new Baghdad security plan can change their circumstances because the U.S. and Iraqi governments have touted at least five such plans before, all of which failed.
The commander's statements came days before President Bush is to announce a new course for U.S. policy in Iraq, probably Wednesday. It's expected to include an influx of between 9,000 and 30,000 U.S. troops, an increase in civilian advisers to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and perhaps $1 billion in new aid for reconstruction efforts.
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