Bush Vows America to Fight in Iraq Until Victory Secured
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2005 President Bush today dismissed political and media speculation about withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and instead gave an impassioned and historically rich defense of the American war effort there during a rousing visit to U.S. troops at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
The president said Iraq is "the central front in our war against the terrorists" and vowed that America will "confront this mortal danger. We will stay on the offensive. We will not wait to be attacked again. We will not rest or tire until the war on terror is won."
Today, Bush said, some 30,000 U.S. personnel are in Korea to defend against North Korean communist aggression; consequently, South Korea has grown free and prosperous.
He thanked U.S. troops there for their service and sacrifice. "You know what it takes to win a war," he said. "You know how to protect the peace; and you know what it takes to defend our nation."
Bush spoke about the Korean War as part of the larger struggle against communism. The Korean War was a fiercely fought and sometimes unpopular war that killed more than 33,000 U.S. servicemembers. However, historians credit the military intervention in Korea as integral to the West's successful prosecution of the Cold War.
Defense of the United States today, Bush said, requires a similar military engagement against the worldwide "Islamo fascist" network.
"These militants," Bush said, "believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that reaches from Spain to Indonesia."
But if these radical Islamists are not stopped, Bush said, "the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, and to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation."
Bush said this "is not going to happen on my watch."
The president said the United States did not ask for this war, "but we're answering history's call with a comprehensive strategy to win this war on terror."
The strategy the president outlined involves four steps:
First, Bush said, America will continue to hunt, capture and kill terrorists worldwide. The United States, he said, has "disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including several al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States." This unceasing and largely covert effort will continue unabated, Bush said.
Second, America will continue to work closely with allied nations worldwide to deny outlaw regimes and terrorists access to weapons of mass destruction. One such successful effort, Bush said, involved a cooperative venture with Great Britain and Pakistan to expose and disrupt a "major black market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan."
Moreover, Bush added, the United States and its partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology - including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.
And diplomatic pressure, backed up by the implicit threat of military force, has caused Libya "to abandon its chemical and nuclear weapons programs. So long as I'm your president," Bush said, "we'll continue to deny the world's most dangerous men the world's most dangerous weapons."
Third, America will continue to act to deny terrorists the support of any nation state. "The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor the terrorists, because they're equally guilty of murder," Bush said. "Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization, and the civilized world will hold those regimes to account."
The United States will not permit any nation state to be used as a home base or launching pad for terrorist activities. That's why, Bush said, U.S. troops are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Finally, America will pursue political reform, democracy and freedom throughout the Middle East. "History has proven," Bush said, "that free nations are peaceful nations, and that democracies do not fight their neighbors. By advancing the hope of freedom and democracy for others," he argued, "we'll make our own freedom more secure."
In Iraq, democracy is on the march, Bush said. Since Saddam fell in April 2003, Iraq has moved from tyranny to a transitional government, ratified a constitution and now heads to the election of a permanent government under that constitution.
"The Iraqi people," Bush continued, "are proving their determination to build a future founded on democracy and hope, and the United States of America will help them succeed."
The president said that there is historical precedent for what is now happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is, the United States has previously brought peace and freedom to countries where it once waged war. Japan, an enemy in World War II, is now a democracy, a highly prosperous nation, and "one of America's most trusted allies," Bush said.
Similarly, South Korea, ravaged by war from 1950-1953, is now prosperous and free. "Freedom is the destiny of every man, woman, and child on this Earth," Bush said.
For that reason, he argued, the United States must continue to help the Iraqi people build a working democracy. Setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops there, as some in Washington urge, would be a disastrous mistake, Bush said.
The president cited Army Maj. Gen. William Webster, the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and Task Force Baghdad. Webster said such a withdrawal would be "'a recipe for disaster,'" Bush said. "So long as I'm the commander-in-chief, our strategy in Iraq will be driven by the sober judgment of our military commanders on the ground.
"We will fight the terrorists in Iraq," Bush vowed. "We will stay in the fight until we have achieved the victory that our brave troops have fought for."