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U.S. Won't 'Cut and Run' From Iraq, Bush Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2004 – The United States is not going to "cut and run" from Iraq, President Bush told newspaper editors here today.

Bush, speaking at a meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said enemies view freedom in Iraq as a real threat, and those enemies will try anything to defeat the coalition. "We're not going to cut and run if I'm in the Oval Office," Bush said. "We will do our job. I believe that people yearn to be free. I believe the people of Iraq will self-govern. And I believe that the world will be better off for it."

The president said that a free and democratic Iraq is an opportunity to change the world. "It's essential that America show resolve and strength and not have our will shaken by those who are willing to murder the innocent," he said. He noted that terrorists had unleashed a number of suicide bombers in Basra, and another attack took place today in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.

"It's a different kind of war," Bush said. "It is a war that is different because it's hard to really see the enemy. This is an enemy that is able to inflict serious destruction on people and yet be nearly invisible most of the time."

Bush told the editors the United States will use the full strength of all agencies of government against the terrorists. He said he will also continue to grow the coalition against terror. "I will tell you, the cooperation (with allies) is good," Bush said.

He said the United States is sharing information and intelligence with countries in the war on terror, including many who do not agree with the United States on actions in Iraq.

Bush said the difference in the 21st century is that terrorism is not limited to overseas attacks against Americans or American interests. The United States itself is a target. "What do you do about a threat that you see gathering overseas?" the president asked. "Do you just kind of hope it goes away, or do you deal with it? And I've obviously made the decision to deal with it."

Bush told the editors that America's word must mean something. He said he meant what he said about nations harboring terrorists being just as bad as the terrorists. The Taliban in Afghanistan found out the United States meant that, he said.

Iraq, the president said, was a gathering threat. "The United Nations saw a threat," he said. "I went to the United Nations. I said, 'Listen, you've been calling upon this guy to disarm for 10 years. He's chosen not to. Now let's give him one final chance to do so.'"

The U.N. Security Council, the president said, unanimously passed a resolution telling Saddam Hussein to "disarm or face serious consequences." Bush said when an organization makes such a statement, "you better mean what you say when you say it."

Bush noted the U.S. action removed an oppressive regime from power. "Because we moved, torture chambers are closed, mass graves won't be filled, and democracy is growing in the heart of the Middle East," he said.

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