Bush Urges Patience, Support as Troop Surge in Iraq Progresses
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 26, 2007 Protecting American citizens requires more than tracking who’s entering and leaving the country, screening cargo and making people take their shoes off at airports, President Bush said today in Philadelphia.
“I believe it requires a relentless search (and) relentless pressure on an enemy that wants to do us harm again,” he told members of the American Legislative Exchange Council in urging patience and support for the war in Iraq.
Bush said it’s shortsighted to think that terrorists will retreat if there’s no pressure on them. They’re committed to imposing their ideology and punishing those who stand in their way, so there’s no choice but to confront them, he said.
“The best way to protect you is to keep them on the run (and) keep the pressure on them,” the president said. “And that is exactly what the United States of America is doing and will continue to do so long as I'm the president of the United States.”
But, Bush said, defeating terrorists isn’t enough. “We're … in an ideological struggle, and the best way to defeat their ideology of darkness in the long term is with an ideology of hope,” he said. “The ideology of hope is based upon the universality of liberty.”
Bush described the strategy to achieve that goal. The short-term strategy is to defeat terrorists by finding them and bringing them to justice. The long-term strategy is “to help others realize the blessings of liberty,” he said.
The president acknowledged that the war hasn’t been easy. “I understand the angst amongst the American people. I know that people are weary of war,” he said.
He added that he understands that images on people’s TV sets can make them question if the war is worth it and whether the United States will succeed.
“Well, I believe the cause is worth it,” he said. “I wouldn't ask a mother's child to go into combat if I didn't think it was necessary to protect the American people to stay on the offense. And I do believe we can succeed if we don't lose our nerve.”
Bush pointed to the two major theaters of the global war against extremists and radicals: Afghanistan and Iraq. In both theaters, extremists see progress being made and are reacting through violence, he said.
In Iraq, Bush said, rising sectarian violence forced him to make a decision. Rather than pulling U.S. troops out, he sent additional troops to help provide security needed for the new Iraqi democracy to succeed. “The mission is to help protect Baghdad and the people inside Baghdad and to keep relentless pressure on those extremists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy,” he said.
Bush said he believes this strategy, led by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, is working. “And I believe it's in the interest of this country, for our own security, for the United States Congress to fully support General Petraeus in his mission and to give him time to come back and report to the United States Congress the progress that he's making,” he said.
As the Iraqi Parliament advances this effort from the top down, Bush said, the Iraqi people are supporting it through bottom-up reconciliation. “That's when people on the ground begin to see things change and start making decisions that will lead to peace,” he said.
Bush urged patience and support to help a peaceful, stable Iraqi government take shape.
Failing to defeat terrorists in Iraq will have dangerous long-term consequences for Iraq, the region and the United States, he said. “They're dangerous in Iraq, and they'll be dangerous here,” Bush said. “And that is why we must defeat them in Iraq, and we can.”