Bush Urges Congress to Support Victory Strategy in Iraq
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2007 Citing freedom’s progress in the Middle East, the ambitions of a thinking and determined enemy and the consequences of failure in Iraq, President Bush tonight urged Congress in his State of the Union Address to support a strategy of victory in Iraq.
“On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle,” Bush told members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. “So let us find our resolve and turn events toward victory.”
Bush cited a thirst for freedom that has grown in the Middle East.
“In the last two years, we have seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East, and we have been sobered by the enemy's fierce reaction,” he said. “In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature.”
Also in 2005, Bush said, the Iraqi people chose a transitional government, adopted the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then elected a government under that constitution. “Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity we should never forget,” he said.
Enemies of freedom saw all this and adjusted their tactics, the president said. “In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution,” he said. “And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government.”
Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have regrouped in Afghanistan and tried to regain power by engaging Afghan and NATO forces, and al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists in Iraq blew up the Golden Mosque of Samarra, one of Shiia Islam’s holiest shrines, almost a year ago. The Golden Mosque attack was intended to provoke reprisals, Bush said, and the resulting sectarian violence has continued.
“This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in,” Bush said. “Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned and our own security at risk.”
Bush said that while it’s the Iraqi government’s responsibility to put an end to the sectarian violence, he’s sending more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines to help Iraqi security forces that aren’t yet up to the task. “We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq,” he said.
“If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides,” Bush said. “We could expect an epic battle between Shiia extremists backed by Iran and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country. And, in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.”
Bush called this a “nightmare scenario” for America and the objective of the enemy.
“Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle,” he said. “And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America.”
Success in the war on terror often is measured by the things that did not happen, Bush said.
“We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented,” he said, “but here is some of what we do know:
“We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast.
“We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States.
“We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America.
“And, just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean.”
Bush said every success “is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy.”
“The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world,” he said. “And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.”
Terrorists have made their intentions clear, he said. “They want to overthrow moderate governments and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country,” he said. “By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology.”
Bush said the United States is not in the struggle alone, noting international cooperation in various troubled areas of the world.
“In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations, and we are working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq's government,” he said. “The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons.”
With the U.N., the European Union and Russia, the United States is working to establish a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, Bush said.
“In Afghanistan,” he continued, “NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive -- the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, we are pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.”