Unified government will settle feuding among sects, Bush says
America is repeating mistakes it made in Vietnam, Alexander Haig said.
WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Saturday he is confident a unified Iraqi government will settle sectarian feuds that Iraqi leaders fear could lead to civil war.
"I'm optimistic that the leadership recognizes that sectarian violence will undermine the capacity for them to self-govern," Bush said after a defense briefing at the White House. "I believe we'll have a unity government in place that will help move the process forward."
Bush denounced any moves by Iran or Syria to interfere in Iraq's effort to build a democracy. The president also said that while Iraq's security forces need more training, they performed well after the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite mosque. The attack led to the deaths of hundreds and pushed the country to the brink of civil war between rival Muslim sects.
"There are some people trying to, obviously, foment sectarian violence -- some have called it civil war -- but it didn't work," Bush said.
He said the U.S. goal is to have Iraqis control more territory than the coalition forces do by the end of the year.
Repeating Vietnam mistake
Former Nixon adviser Alexander Haig said Saturday military leaders in Iraq are repeating a mistake made in Vietnam by not applying the full force of the military to win the war.
"Every asset of the nation must be applied to the conflict to bring about a quick and successful outcome, or don't do it," Haig said. "We're in the midst of another struggle where it appears to me we haven't learned very much."
The comments by Haig, Nixon's chief of staff and also a secretary of state under President Reagan, came at a conference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum examining the Vietnam War and the American Presidency.
TV executive killed
Meanwhile, in Iraq, gunmen killed the director of Iraq's public television channel and his driver Saturday, the second slaying this month of a figure who shapes broadcast news coverage of the country's sectarian strife.
Amjad Hameed, 45, a former cameraman and programming executive who had run Al-Iraqiya television since July, was shot several times in the face and chest after the assailants cut off his car as he headed to work in central Baghdad, the capital. He died instantly, police said.
Al-Iraqiya, indirectly controlled by the Shiite Muslim-led government, suspended regular programming and aired verses from the Quran after reporting the news of his death. It showed footage of female colleagues as they wept over Hameed's coffin and of surgeons as they struggled to revive his driver, who died after emergency surgery.
The slayings came four days after the shooting death of Munsuf Abdallah Khalidi, a news anchor on Baghdad Television, which is run by the country's largest Sunni Arab party. That channel and Al-Iraqiya give highly partisan, opposing slants to the bloodshed that pits Sunnis against Shiites.
Authorities reported at least four other shooting deaths Saturday, including that of a human rights activist in Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, and a police lieutenant colonel in the capital. One U.S. soldier was wounded by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, the American military said.
An American aid worker taken hostage with three other peace activists was apparently tortured before he was shot in the head and chest and his body dumped near a railroad line in Baghdad, Iraqi police said Saturday.
Tom Fox, a 54-year-old member of Christian Peacemaker Teams from Clear Brook, Va., was the fifth American hostage killed in Iraq. There was no immediate word on his fellow captives, a Briton and two Canadians.