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Bush: 'No Middle Ground' in War on Terror

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2005 – Terrorists are testing American will and resolve in Iraq, and failing that test would mean dire consequences for the safety and security of America, President Bush said here today.

Delivering remarks at the Pentagon, Bush said that the battle lines are drawn in Iraq, and there is no middle ground.

"Either we defeat the terrorists and help the Iraqis build a working democracy, or the terrorists will impose their dark ideology on the Iraqi people and make that country a source of terror and instability to come for decades," he said.

Iraqi security forces are growing in size and capability and are helping the coalition maintain control of cities taken from terrorist control, Bush said. As they complete training, Iraqi forces are taking the lead in joint operations and are conducting independent operations, he added.

"Iraqi forces are showing the vital difference they can make," he said. "They are now in control of more parts of Iraq than at any time in the past two years. ... As the Iraqi security forces show, they are capable of keeping the terrorists out; they're earning the confidence of the Iraqi people and ensuring the success of a free and democratic Iraq."

Coalition and Iraqi troops now are focusing their efforts in western Iraq, where they're trying to stop foreign terrorists from entering through Syria, Bush said. The border is long, and limited cooperation from Syria has made it hard to secure, he said, adding that U.S. forces continue to train Iraqis in that area.

Bush said that he recognizes there are different opinions about the way forward in Iraq, but to withdraw troops now would make the world more dangerous and America less safe.

"Since our country was attacked on the morning of September the 11th, 2001, we have known that the war on terror would require tremendous sacrifice and commitment," he said. "Across the world, the brave men and women of our armed forces are taking on dangerous and difficult work. Some have given their lives in battle. They did so in a cause that is just and necessary for the security of this country. ... We'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission and winning the war on terror."

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