President Bush Stresses Importance of Iraq War
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2007 Success in Iraq and the Middle East is essential to U.S. security, American troops will stay there as long as is necessary to complete the mission, President Bush said today.
Defending his request for more money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush pointed out that he is reducing troop levels in Iraq, but that troops still there need the best equipment and resources available.
“If I didn't think the mission was necessary for our security, I wouldn't have our troops there,” Bush said during an address at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lancaster, Pa. “Secondly, if I didn't think we could succeed, I wouldn't have our troops there. I cannot look in the eye of a mother or father whose son or daughter's in combat and not believe that we can succeed and it's necessary.”
Progress is being made in Iraq, and reconciliation is taking place, which is why the U.S. troop level is being reduced by five brigades by July, Bush said. Bush said he made this decision based on the recommendation of Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multinational Force Iraq commander, who in September reported that security could be maintained with a gradual decrease in troops.
“I don't want our troops feeling like I'm making decisions based upon politics when their lives are at risk,” Bush said. “I want our troops knowing that I'm making decisions on the considered judgment of our military, all aimed at accomplishing an objective, which is for a country in a heart of the Middle East to be able to govern, sustain itself and serve as an ally against these extremists and radicals.”
Bush said a lot of his decision making has been based on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, after which he vowed to do everything in his power to protect the American people. The fight against terrorism is a broad ideological struggle, he said, and the way to defeat the extremist ideology is with a better ideology. “There's no better ideology than one based upon liberty,” Bush said. “If you believe in the universality of liberty, then it shouldn't surprise you when 12 million people in Iraq went to the polls.”
America has been through conflicts like this before, but this one is especially hard to understand because the enemy uses non-traditional warfare, Bush said. However, he urged the public to remember what can be achieved through the power of freedom and liberty, citing America’s strong relationship with Japan, which 60 years ago was the sworn enemy of the U.S.
“A one-time enemy is at the table talking about peace, and the same thing's going to happen in the Middle East,” Bush said. “And it's going to be tough to get there, and it's hard work, but … I've got faith in the transformative power of liberty. I believe that people want to be free. I believe a gift of the Almighty to each man, woman and child is freedom, and I believe when given the chance people want to be free, and I firmly believe freedom yields the peace we want.”