Determination, Will, Leadership Matter, President Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 10, 2004 The coalition is winning in Iraq, and what matters is determination, will and steadfast leadership from the United States, President Bush said here today.
Bush spoke to the Pentagon Channel and the American Forces Radio and Television Service during a visit to the building today.
The president said he doesn't care about the U.S. politics of the problem; he is going to do the right thing. The government, he added, will send whatever is needed to win in Iraq. If U.S. Central Command head Army Gen. John Abizaid says he needs to slow down the rotation to get more troops on the ground, "he'll get that," Bush said, "because we support our troops on the ground, and they can have what's necessary to win."
A free Iraq is in U.S. national interest, the president said. "Our troops have to know that we're doing the right thing, and (that) by sacrificing the way they are in Iraq, they are really making the country a safer place," he said.
It is also important that the Iraqi people know the United States will not back off in the face of terrorist attacks. "I will remain steadfast and strong in the mission," Bush said.
The president addressed the Abu Ghraib issue. He said the way to handle it "is to tell the truth, which stands in stark contrast to a society run by tyrants." He said the world will see that the American people are disgusted by the behavior of a very few people.
"The troops need to hear from me that those over there in the Iraqi theater are decent and honorable citizens who are not only fighting the bad guys, but are making life better for the innocent people of Iraq," the president said.
The world will also see that the U.S. military will handle this situation openly and transparently. "We must honor the presumption of innocence and the rule of law," Bush said. "We will get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, we need to stay focused on the mission. We must not be diverted."
Bush said the actions of a few "will not be allowed to stain the honor of the mighty United States military." He knows how hard U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq, he said, and that they are also demonstrating decency and compassion. "I hear stories all the time about people working with orphans, or people working with schools, people working to provide medical care," he said. "Innocent Iraqis who have interfaced with our troops know how decent and compassionate our troops are.
"We've sent the finest from our country overseas," the president continued. "I want our troops to know that and the American people to know that. Our troops need to know that the American people are squarely behind them."
Bush said that a free Iraq will be a peaceful Iraq. "Free societies are peaceful societies," he said. "We're in a part of the world right now where there hasn't been much freedom. As a result, people lose their sense of hope and they become violent, and they fall prey to false ideologies that encourage the killing of innocent lives. A free Iraq will be a major change agent in the Middle East."