President Bush vows to stay the course in Iraq

by Jane Watrel

NBC News

There was another sharp challenge to President Bush Friday from within his own party.

Two top Republican Senators have now drafted a bill that would narrow the U-S mission in Iraq by the end of the year.

All of this is occurring while a top military commander warns against a rapid drawdown of troops.

The GOP Senators are well respected and highlight the dissatisfaction with the President's war plan.

Surrounded by his war cabinet, President Bush is backing his commanders as they stay the course with his surge plan in Iraq.

"Most Iraqis want to live in peace and with time we'll be able to help them realize that dream," said President Bush.

This dream could turn into a nightmare if U-S troops leave too early, warns a top U.S. commander from the war zone.

"There will be consequences of a rapid withdrawal from Iraq," said Major General Benjamin Mixon.

General Mixon says if all goes well, a drawdown could begin in January.

However,  two key Republicans proposed a new strategy to force the President to wind down the war by year's end.

Senator John Warner and Senator Richard Lugar want U-S troops to stop policing Iraq's civil war and focus instead on protecting its borders.

Even the administration's patience with the Maliki government is wearing thin.

"It's a very difficult situation and I would be the first to say that we've not been completely satisfied with the way that the Iraqi government has performed.  But we do have to recognize what a hard thing it is that they're doing," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

There has been limited success and the Pentagon points to Iraq's Anbar Province.

With Al Qaeda gaining strength elsewhere the Senate voted to double the bounty on Osama Bin Laden to 50 million dollars.

As for Thursday night's house vote to pull troops out of Iraq by April, it is likely going nowhere, since there are not enough votes to override a presidential veto.