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President Predicts Iraq Mission Will Produce Peace

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2008 – U.S. and coalition military, diplomatic and economic efforts in Iraq are important and will ultimately produce an oasis of peace in the Middle East, President Bush predicted today in Arusha, Tanzania, during an interview with NBC reporter Ann Curry.

“I firmly believe that the (Iraq) mission will yield peace,” Bush told Curry. “And, as people are now beginning to see, Iraq is changing.”

Bush pointed out that democracy is taking hold in Iraq. “And I’m convinced, 50 years from now, people will look and say, “Thank God there were those who were willing to sacrifice,” he said. 

The Iraq situation was looking bleak, Bush recalled, before U.S. leaders last year decided to deploy about 30,000 extra military forces to Iraq. Things are looking up in Iraq today, with al Qaeda and other insurgents on the run, thanks to the surge of forces and the contributions of concerned local citizens’ groups.

“What would have been worse on anybody’s conscience would have been had we abandoned Iraq when the times were tough and let those soldiers die in vain,” Bush pointed out. “That would have been the absolute worst thing that would have happened.”

Sending additional forces to Iraq was the right thing to do, Bush said, noting, “The surge is proving us not wrong.”

Failure in Iraq would produce “an unmitigated disaster” for the Middle East, Bush said.

Leaving Iraq before defeating the insurgency there “would empower the radicals who still want to hurt us,” Bush pointed out. “It would embolden Iran, which is a threat to peace.”

And, departing Iraq before the mission is accomplished “would have abandoned the Iraqi people” who are counting on continued U.S. assistance after being liberated from a brutal tyrant, Bush said.

Bush said he doesn’t believe it was wrong that the United States and its allies deposed Saddam Hussein.

“As a matter of fact, I believe it is right,” Bush said. “And, I believe history will prove it is right.”

The president and first lady Laura Bush departed Washington Friday for an Africa trip with scheduled stops in Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

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