President Bush: 'We Will Do What is Necessary'
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 7, 2003 Saying the United States will "do what is necessary, spend what is necessary," President George W. Bush told the nation Sunday night that the war on terror must continue, and he will ask Congress for $87 billion more to wage it.
In a nationally broadcast address from the White House Sept. 7, the president said enemies of freedom are "making a desperate stand" in Iraq, and "there they must be defeated."
Speaking four days before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, the president asked for patience from Americans.
"Two years ago," he said, "I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts in many places." He added, "This will take time, and require sacrifice."
The president said U.S. strategy in Iraq has three objectives: destroying terrorists, lining up support from other nations for a free Iraq, and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future.
Taking direct action against the terrorists in the Iraqi theater is "the surest way to prevent future attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi people," Bush said. "We are staying on the offensive with a series of precise strikes against enemy targets, increasingly guided by intelligence given to us by Iraqi citizens."
Noting that 42 of the 55 most wanted former Iraqi leaders are either dead or in custody, the president said, "We are sending a clear message: Anyone who seeks to harm our soldiers can know that our soldiers are hunting for them."
He pointed out that terrorist attacks don't happen because strength is used, but are invited by the perception of weakness. "And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans," Bush noted. "We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again in our own streets, our own cities."
Military commanders in Iraq have advised the president that the current U.S. troop strength of almost 130,000 is appropriate to their mission, he said. More than 20,000 other service members from 29 other countries are serving with them.
"Two multinational divisions, led by the British and the Poles, are serving alongside our forces," Bush said. "And in order to share the burden more broadly, our commanders have requested a third multinational division to serve in Iraq.
Acknowledging that while some friends of the United States disagreed with the decision to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions and remove Saddam Hussein from power, the president said, "We cannot let past differences interfere with present duties."
As the Security Council considers a resolution the United States drafted to address the situation in Iraq, Bush said, "Members of the United Nations now have an opportunity -- and the responsibility -- to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation."
The president called Iraq the "central front" in the war on terror, and said a free and self- sufficient Iraq depends on help from other nations and on the Iraqi people themselves to "rise to the responsibilities of a free people and secure the blessings of their own liberty."
Bush cited progress toward the orderly transfer of sovereignty and authority to Iraqis. "Our coalition came to Iraq as liberators and we will depart as liberators," he stated. He mentioned the new 25-member Iraqi Governing Council that reflects the diversity of the country's population, the council's appointment of cabinet ministers, and the fact that 90 percent of Iraq's cities and towns now have functioning local governments restoring basic services.
U.S.-assisted training for civil defense and police forces, a facilities protection service and border guards and a new Iraqi army is being accelerated, the president said.
"In all these roles there are now some 60,000 Iraqi citizens under arms, defending the security of their own country," he noted.
Based on the results of a thorough assessment of U.S. military and reconstruction needs in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush said he'll soon ask Congress for $87 billion. An estimated $66 billion will be needed over the next year for military and intelligence operations in those two countries and elsewhere, he said, and the request also includes funds for rebuilding schools and infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He announced that in separate meetings in September and October, Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet with representatives of many nations to discuss their financial contributions to those reconstruction efforts.
The commander in chief praised the men and women serving in the military and intelligence services, whom he said bear the heaviest burdens of the war against terror. "They have removed gathering threats to America and our friends, and this nation takes great pride in their incredible achievements," he said. "We are grateful for their skill and courage, and for their acts of decency, which have shown America's character to the world.
"We honor the sacrifice of their families," the president continued, "and we mourn every American who has died so bravely, so far from home.
"Fellow citizens," he concluded, "We've been tested these past 24 months, and the dangers have not passed. Yet Americans are responding with courage and confidence. We accept the duties of our generation. We are active and resolute in our own defense. We are serving in freedom's cause -- and that is the cause of all mankind."