Iraqis are making enormous sacrifices everyday in the fight for freedom alongside coalition forces, US President George W Bush said today in a new plea for patience from his country.
The president was trying to underscore the fact that the US is not bearing the toll alone in the face of growing disquiet over the war.
"Here at home, it can be easy to overlook the bravery shown by Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians who are in the fight for freedom," Bush said in a radio address taped at his ranch in central Texas. "But our troops on the ground see it every day."
Bush told the story of an Iraqi man who stepped forward to intercept a suicide bomber who was running for a team of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens near Baghdad. The bomber and the Iraqi man died as the bomb detonated, but the soldiers and citizens were spared.
A citizens group, Bush said, tipped off police about the location of an al Qaida cell believed to be responsible for the attack, which led to arrests.
Bush's positive take on Iraq's internal efforts comes as lawmakers and the broader public in the US have grown deeply frustrated over Iraq's inability to improve its affairs.
"As security improves, more Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy," Bush said.
"Young Iraqi men are signing up for the army. Iraqi police are now patrolling the streets. Coalition and Iraqi forces have doubled the number of joint operations."
Bush's address comes days after he compared the Iraq war to Vietnam - linking the US pullout back then to the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and warning that withdrawing troops now could have similarly disastrous consequences.
But former Democratic Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm while serving in Vietnam, said Bush was ignoring the facts to again try to sell the Iraq war.
Despite enormous sacrifice by Americans, Cleland said in his party's radio address: "We find ourselves mired in a civil war with no end in sight and Iraqis unable or unwilling to make the political decisions necessary to end this conflict."