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Bush: U.S. Seeks 'Total Victory' Over Terrorists

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2005 – U.S. servicemembers are fighting and sacrificing in Iraq because that country "is a central front in the war on terror," President Bush told Veterans of Foreign War members gathered in Salt Lake City today.

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After addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Salt Lake City, President Bush chats with troops from the Utah National Guard on Aug. 22. Photo by Paul Morse

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Terrorists want to "establish Taliban-like regimes" in Iraq and other troubled areas of the Middle East, Bush explained to VFW members at their annual convention, in order to "turn that region into a launching pad for more attacks" against America and its allies.

Yet, "in all their objectives" the terrorists "will fail," the president vowed.

The overriding lesson provided by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States is "we must confront threats before they fully materialize," Bush asserted, noting that "a policy of retreat and isolation" cannot protect Americans from terrorists' violence.

Therefore, "the only way to defend our citizens where we live," Bush maintained, "is to go after the terrorists where they live."

Bush saluted today's generation of U.S. servicemembers, who, in defending America and confronting terrorism across the globe, are fighting "the first war of the 21st century."

And the only acceptable outcome for the war is "total victory" over the terrorists, Bush said.

Terrorists want to transform Iraq "into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban," he noted.

And terrorists want to stop the spread of democracy in Iraq, "because they know a free Iraq will deal a decisive blow to their strategy to achieve absolute power," Bush said.

Iraqis had experienced three decades of dictatorship under Saddam Hussein, the president pointed out, noting, "They will not allow a new set of would-be tyrants to take control of their future."

Bush said more than 8 million Iraqis voted in recent democratic elections. And despite ongoing insurgent violence, the Iraqis "are building a nation that secures freedom for its citizens and contributes to peace and stability in that region," the president said.

The finished draft of a democratic national constitution will represent "a landmark event in the history of Iraq and the history of the Middle East," he said.

Crafting a constitution is an arduous process that involves "debate and compromise," he noted, pointing out that the U.S. constitution wasn't easily written and adopted.

As Iraqis continue to take on more responsibility for managing the day-to-day affairs of their nation, the U.S. and its allies will "help them to take responsibility for their own security," Bush said. American and Iraqi troops are serving side by side and "working to defeat the terrorists together."

As Iraqis gain more experience in fighting the insurgency, then American troops will stand down, Bush noted. Then, "our troops will come home with the honor they have earned," he said.

The 1.8-million-member VFW was founded in 1899 and works on behalf of all military veterans and their families.

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