No Distinction Between Terrorists, Those Who Support Them, Bush Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2005 The U.S. is determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes like Syria and Iran, President Bush said here today.
President George W. Bush speaks to the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives Luncheon at Bolling Air Force Base, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 25. The president thanked the members for their courage and sacrifice, saying, "We don't know the course our own struggle will take or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know the strength and character that our troops and military families bring to the fight." White House photo by Paul Morse
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Speaking to the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives Luncheon at Bolling Air Force Base, Bush said that these governments have a long history of collaboration with terrorists and deserve no patience from the victims of terror.
"Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has chosen to be an enemy of civilization," Bush said. "The civilized world must hold those regimes to account."
The U.N. Security Council will hear a new report this week from an independent commission that points to Syrian involvement in the terrorist bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and 22 others in February, Bush said.
"Syria is destabilizing Lebanon, permitting terrorists to use its territory to reach Iraq, and giving safe harbor to Palestinian terrorist groups," he said. "Now the United Nations must act, and Syria and its leaders must be held accountable for their continuing support for terrorism, including any involvement in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri."
The U.S. is also working to deny the terrorists control of any nation for use as a home base or launching pad, Bush said. Troops are working to defeat the Taliban and remnants of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and to isolate terrorists in Pakistan, he said. The terrorists' ultimate goal is to destabilize the Middle East and attack America and other free nations with increasing violence, but the U.S. has a clear strategy to prevent that from happening, he said.
"Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power," he said. "And so, we will defeat the enemy in Iraq."
American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults in recent weeks to rid western Iraq of enemy fighters and to shut down terrorist entry routes from Syria, Bush said. The Iraqi troops have been using their local expertise to ensure the success of these operations and are often staying behind to maintain security after U.S. forces move on, he said.
The Iraqi military has been gaining new capabilities and the country has made steady progress toward democracy, Bush said. "Progress isn't easy, but it is steady," he said. "No fair-minded person should ignore, deny or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people."
Bush dismissed recent speculation that arguments among the different religious factions point to an unstable democracy in Iraq, saying that debate is the essence of democracy. A democratic government is, in fact, the best solution for Iraq, because it will respect the rights and beliefs of all religious groups and give all citizens a stake in their country's future, he said.
"As Americans, we believe that people everywhere prefer freedom to slavery and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all," he said. "And so we're confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed."