Bush Discusses 'Two-Track Strategy for Victory' in Iraq
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
"The military track of our strategy is to defeat the terrorists and continue helping the Iraqis take greater responsibility for defending their freedom," Bush said. "The political track of our strategy is to continue helping Iraqis build the institutions of a stable democracy."
June 28 marks the first anniversary of the transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to Iraq's interim government. To mark that historic date -- the date "the Iraqi people reclaimed their free and sovereign nation" -- the president said he will travel to Fort Bragg, N.C., to deliver a national address about Iraq.
"The terrorists know that Iraq is a central front in the war on terror, because they know that a stable and democratic Iraq will deal a severe blow to their ideology of oppression and fear," Bush told radio listeners.
The president acknowledged that the "mission in Iraq is difficult, and we can expect more tough fighting in the weeks and months ahead. ... The images we see on television are a grim reminder that the enemies of freedom in Iraq are ruthless killers with no regard for human life. The killers include members of Saddam Hussein's regime, criminal elements and foreign terrorists."
Bush said he is confident that America and the Iraqi people will prevail. America "has been tested before," he observed, "and we have a long history of resolve and faith in the cause of freedom. ... Every Iraqi who chooses the side of freedom has chosen the winning side."
The president noted that this week he "had the honor of hosting Iraqi Prime Minister Jaafari -- the leader of Iraq's fist democratically elected government in more than half a century."
Bush said he and Jaafari discussed the "dramatic progress" Iraq has made over the past year. "Schools, hospitals, roads and post offices are being built to serve the needs of all Iraqis," he noted. And "increasing numbers of Iraqis are overcoming their fears and working actively to defeat the insurgents."
The Iraqi people "are growing in optimism and hope," Bush said. "They understand that the violence is only a part of the reality in Iraq. Each day, Iraqis are exercising new freedoms that they were denied for decades."
This active, civic involvement by the Iraqi people, the president noted, has dealt a serious setback to the terrorists. Indeed, they aim, Bush said, "to break the will of America and of the Iraqi people before democracy can take root." This is something the terrorists have tried but failed to achieve before, he added.
For example, Bush said, terrorists tried two years ago to intimidate the Iraqi Governing Council; last year, they tried to delay the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq; and today, they're trying to undermine the new sovereign government, while intimidating Iraqis from joining their country's growing domestic security forces. Yet, Bush said, the terrorists have repeatedly failed to achieve their objectives -- and they continue to fail. "Democracy is moving forward, and more and more Iraqis are defying the terrorists by joining the democratic process," he said.
Bush cited last year's landmark free elections and the formation of a representative Iraqi government. He also mentioned that Iraqis are drafting a new constitution, which will be voted on in a national referendum, and that "new elections will be held [soon] to choose a fully constitutional government."
America's military strategy in Iraq is equally clear, Bush said: "We will train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their freedom and protect their people; and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."
Bush said the free world will continue to stand behind the Iraqi people. He noted that representatives of more than 80 countries and international organizations gathered in Brussels, Belgium, this week to discuss how they can assist Iraq. Donor countries also will meet next month to discuss Iraqi reconstruction, Bush said.
"Americans can be proud of all that we and our coalition partners have accomplished in Iraq," the president said. "A democratic Iraq will be a powerful setback to the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. A democratic Iraq will be a great triumph in the history of liberty. And a democratic Iraq will be a source of peace for our children and grandchildren."
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