June 29, 2005

The President's Speech on Iraq

You can find a link to the transcript here.

Here are some of my favorite parts:

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of Coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”
Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.
This is, in essence, why I feel that our presence in Iraq is so important. Al Quaeda and other Islamic extremists are committed to the overthrow of western societies and the murder of all infidels (i.e., anyone that is not a Muslim). The attack on 9/11 was not a fluke accident. These extremists have always believed that they are in a perpetual war with infidels. They believe that their god has commanded them to kill all non-believers - whether man, woman or child- and that there is no difference between an infidel soldier or an infidel citizen. Most of the "insurgents" that we are fighting represent foreign fighters that have chosen to fight Americans in Iraq as opposed to within the United States. If they want battle, then fine.... they will have a battle - with the United States Armed Forces. I would rather have our higly trained Armed Forces fight these Islamic extremists in Kabul or Basra than allow them to prey upon innocent civillians in the United States.

Regarding the calls for an immediate withdrawal:
I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send he wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.
I would love nothing more than to have this war over and to have our troops home. However, the President is right - it would be a disaster to set a timetable for withdrawal before we win the war or Iraq is ready to fight it on its own...
We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America’s resolve. We are fighting against men with blind hatred — and armed with lethal weapons — who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq — just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail. The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter under threat — and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins.
Overall, it was a good speech. While it doesn't tell us much, if anything, that is new by way of Administration policy, it was probably what was needed. For months, the left wing media and the Democrats have been relentless in their criticism of Administration policy towards Iraq and focus on the suicide bombings. Their strategy is simple. If you want America to withdraw, you make the American public question (a) why you got into the war in the first place and (b) whether the war is worthwhile. The speech reminds us that not all the news coming from Iraq is bad news and that there is a reason we are commited to fighting in Iraq.
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