Bush: Iraq Violence Won’t Cause U.S. Troop Withdrawal
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2006 The United States won’t withdraw its troops from Iraq in the face of recent increased insurgent-led violence in some parts of that country, President Bush said here yesterday.
The U.S. goal in Iraq is victory, Bush told the nation during his weekly radio address. Any changes made to address increased insurgent attacks in and around Baghdad and parts of Anbar province, the president emphasized, will involve “the tactics we use to achieve” victory.
Bush has met with senior Defense Department civilian and military leaders over the past few days to discuss the way ahead in Iraq.
Withdrawing American military forces and retreating from Iraq would embolden terrorists around the world, dishonor the sacrifices of thousands of U.S. servicemembers, and make America less safe, Bush said.
“We will not pull our troops off the [Iraq] battlefield before the mission is complete,” Bush emphasized in his radio address. Giving up in Iraq, he added, “would allow the terrorists to gain a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America.”
The American strategy in Iraq is predicated on training enough capable Iraqi soldiers and police to engage and defeat the insurgents. This plan is flexible and allows U.S. forces to adapt to changing circumstances, Bush said.
“We’ve changed the way we train the Iraqi security forces,” Bush pointed out. “We have changed the way we deliver reconstruction assistance in areas that have been cleared of terrorist influence.”
Bush said he’s spoken with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki about the stepped up violence in Iraq. Both leaders agreed that the core strategy employed to defeat the insurgency in Iraq would remain in place.
“And, we will continue to be flexible, and make every necessary change to prevail in this struggle,” Bush said.
Violence in Iraq has increased, particularly in and around Baghdad, Bush said, because coalition and Iraqi forces have been conducting focused operations to bring security to that city.
“It’s no coincidence that the surge in attacks against coalition forces coincides with our increased presence in the streets in Baghdad,” Bush pointed out.
Maliki and other senior Iraqi government officials have been taking steps to confront rising violence by reaching out to various sects and tribes, Bush said. For example, tribal leaders in Anbar province, he said, have told Maliki they’re ready to confront the insurgency.
Also, some key leaders of Iraq’s national police force have been arrested or reassigned, Bush noted during his radio address, as part of efforts to make that organization more efficient.
Terrorists in Iraq aim to use the stepped up violence to influence American public opinion through the media and reduce support for the war, Bush said.
“They know they cannot defeat us in the battle, so they conduct high-profile attacks, hoping that the images of violence will demoralize our country and force us to retreat,” the president explained.
However, America will remain steadfast in its support of the new democratic Iraqi government, Bush said.
“We will help Prime Minister Maliki build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself,” Bush said. “And we will help Iraq become a strong democracy that is a strong ally in the war on terror.”
Bush acknowledged that increased violence over the past few weeks has “been rough for our troops in Iraq, and for the Iraqi people.” Yet, American troops have persevered and achieved victories in other great, past struggles, he pointed out.
“In World War II and the Cold War, earlier generations of Americans sacrificed so that we can live in freedom,” Bush said. “This generation will do its duty as well. We will defeat the terrorists everywhere they make their stand, and we will leave a more hopeful world for our children and our grandchildren.”