Bush to Governors: U.S. Won't Stop Short of Victory
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2006 The United States won't stop short of achieving victory in both Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush said today in the White House Rose Garden after meeting with four state governors who had just returned from the region.
The president met with the governors after their visit to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, then told reporters he had assured them that the United States understands the importance of a unity government in Iraq in creating stability.
The four governors -- Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin -- stood with Bush as he told the White House press corps about their breakfast meeting.
"We fully recognize that the Iraqis must step up and form a unity government so that those who went to the polls to vote recognize that a government will be in place to respond to their needs," the president said. "We also recognize that vacuums in the political process create opportunity for malfeasance and harm."
Bush emphasized that the U.S. goal in Afghanistan and Iraq is nothing short of victory. And victory will be achieved when both countries have democracies able to sustain and defend themselves, he said.
"I don't expect everybody to agree with my decision to go into Iraq, but I do want the people to understand ... that failure in Iraq is not an option," the president said. "Failure in Iraq would make the security situation for our country worse, and ... success in Iraq will begin to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come."
Bush said he assured the governors "that the United States will complete the mission, that we will honor those who've paid the ultimate price by completing the mission, (and) that we will help those who desire to live in freedom."
The governors, two Democrats and two Republicans, put aside political differences to express praise for the troops they met and support for the way those troops are carrying out their mission.
"There may be disagreements on policy, but no one can disagree with the fact that we have extraordinarily brave, competent and dedicated individuals in the armed forces serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq," Vilsack said.
"The issues in Afghanistan and Iraq are extraordinarily complex," he said. "What you have here is simultaneously trying to build a government, an economy, and provide security, and sometimes it can be difficult to express how difficult the challenge is."
Daniels said the troops he met "think this is a noble thing they're doing and are very proud of the contribution they're making ... to the security of our country and their loved ones at home ... (and) to the establishment of freedom in two lands that have been denied it for so long."
The Florida governor, the president's brother, said the visit reinforced the importance of the U.S. mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It is very important that we stay the course (and) that we provide support for these incredible people that are doing such a service for liberty around the world and protecting our freedoms here," he said.