Bush: Iraq War Longer, More Costly Than Expected

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush is acknowledging that the war in Iraq has been longer and more costly than he expected.

But in a speech about his Mideast policies planned for later today, Bush defends his decision to go to war. He says after the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. couldn't risk leaving Saddam Hussein in power, even if intelligence about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction turned out to be wrong.

Bush says after Saddam's government fell, the U.S. "refused to take the easy option" of installing a "friendly strongman" in his place. Instead, he says the U.S. has helped "nuture a budding democracy" in Iraq, "even though it required enormous sacrifice."

Bush acknowledges that his Mideast policies have not always gone according to plan and sometimes have fallen short of the administration's goals. But he says he sees progress toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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