President Urges Continued Support for Terror War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2005 President Bush today used Veterans Day, a day originally designated to commemorate victory in World War I, as an opportunity to reaffirm the United States' commitment to seeing the war on terror through to victory.
"The nation has made a clear choice," the president told a gathering of servicemembers, veterans and family members at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa. "We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won."
Bush condemned terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and have continued to spread violence around the world, using what he called "a litany of excuses" to justify it.
The United States did not invite the attacks it suffered, the president said, dismissing claims that the U.S. presence in Iraq has fueled the terrorists' efforts. "We were not in Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001," the president reminded the group. "The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
"No act of ours invited the rage of killers," he continued, "and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder."
Rather, he said, terrorists will prey on any indication of weakness or loss of will among Americans and the coalition. He cited an intercepted letter from Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, intended to reach Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, that referred to the U.S. withdraw from Vietnam in the 1970s as a model for a future retreat from Iraq. Toward that end and terrorists' ultimate political goals, he said, there's little doubt that they will carry out future attacks, as evidenced by deadly bombings this week in Baghdad and Amman, Jordan.
He cited success of the strategy aimed at preventing those attacks by eliminating terrorist networks and their ability to inflict violence. "This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but it has not removed it," he said.
Meanwhile, Bush said, another kind of attack is under way in the United States -- what he called "baseless attacks" about the rationale that led to U.S. operations in Iraq. The president acknowledged the right of all Americans to voice opinions about what led to the war or how that war is being carried out. But he called it "deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."
"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges," he said.
Political attacks send the wrong message to U.S. troops fighting the war on terror and mixed messages to enemies judging America's will to stay the course, the president said. U.S. troops deserve a clear understand that their nation is behind them and that this support won't bow to political winds, he said.
"As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy your way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them," he said. "Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory."
Bush acknowledged that the road ahead won't be easy but said the coalition strategy in Iraq is working. Iraq is showing solid progress on the political and security fronts, paving the way for the United States to ultimately bring its troops home, he said. "As Iraqis stand up, the United States will stand down," he said.
Meanwhile, Bush said, the best way the United States can honor its troops, particularly those who have died in the war, is to stay the course to achieve the goals for which they sacrificed.
"The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come," he said.