Wednesday, November 30, 2005

President Bush's speech

The President gave an excellent speech today at the Naval Academy.

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th. Those terrorists share the same ideology with those who blew up commuters in London and Madrid, murdered tourists in Bali, workers in Riyadh, and guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan. Just last week, they massacred Iraqi children and their parents at a toy give-away outside an Iraqi hospital.

This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary, there is only one effective response: We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

..............

Our strategy in Iraq has three elements. On the political side, we know that free societies are peaceful societies, so we're helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis. We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq -- and to marginalize those who never will. On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive against the enemy, cleaning out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives.
As we fight the terrorists, we're working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces, so they can take the lead in the fight -- and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance.
And on the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In doing all this we have involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners, and supportive regional states in helping Iraqis build their future.


Thus, the President clearly maps out the broad outline of the strategy in Iraq: create a democracy, develop the economy, train Iraqi forces to look after their own security.

The President explained that there are over 120 Iraqi battalions now engaged; that the assault in Tal Afar was lead primarily by Iraqi forces; that over 30 Iraqi battalions now control their own assigned territory; 90 square miles of Baghdad province are now controlled by Iraqi security forces, as well as areas in Northern, Southern and Western Iraq; and that more than a dozen military bases are now in the control of the Iraqi forces.

Importantly, the President addressed the criticism that only one Iraqi battalion is completely independent from coalition forces:

Some critics dismiss this progress and point to the fact that only one Iraqi battalion has achieved complete independence from the coalition. To achieve complete independence, an Iraqi battalion must do more than fight the enemy on its own -- it must also have the ability to provide its own support elements, including logistics, airlift, intelligence, and command and control through their ministries. Not every Iraqi unit has to meet this level of capability in order for the Iraqi security forces to take the lead in the fight against the enemy. As a matter of fact, there are some battalions from NATO militaries that would not be able to meet this standard. The facts are that Iraqi units are growing more independent and more capable; they are defending their new democracy with courage and determination. They're in the fight today, and they will be in the fight for freedom tomorrow.

As for future redeployment, the strategy was made very clear:

For example, we have increased our force levels in Iraq to 160,000 -- up from 137,000 -- in preparation for the December elections. My commanders tell me that as Iraqi forces become more capable, the mission of our forces in Iraq will continue to change. We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide, to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists. We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys.

As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders -- not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.


Then the President addressed the cut and run policy Democrats, using the good sense of one of the few balanced Democrats left, Senator Lieberman:

Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere -- but I believe they're sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose is not a plan for victory. As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would "discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies -- that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder -- and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief.

..........

Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, "stay the course." If by "stay the course," they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by "stay the course," they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America -- they are right, as well. If by "stay the course" they mean that we're not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, "Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him." Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy.


Are you listening, Senators Reid, Kerry, Murtha, et al?

Near the end of the speech, the President outlined the withdrawal strategy very clearly and concisely:


As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security, and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission. America will not abandon Iraq. We will not turn that country over to the terrorists and put the American people at risk. Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East -- and this will add to the security of the American people.

This is the only withdrawal strategy that is prudent and possible if success is to be achieved: as the Iraqis can take over their own security, so the coalition forces can leave. What is so difficult for leftists to understand about that?

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