Bush Calls Iraq Central Front in Terror War, Vows Victory
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
The president painted a connection between Operation Iraqi Freedom and the ongoing global war on terror and vowed that the United States won't retreat with anything less than all-out victory.
Bush dismissed claims that the coalition's actions in Iraq are flaming the radicals' rage against the United States and its coalition partners.
"I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and al Qaeda attacked us anyway," the president said. The radicals' hatred "existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse," he said.
Noting the recent observance of the fourth anniversary of those attacks, Bush reflected on similar al Qaeda attacks in other countries around the world, including those that aren't part of the coalition in Iraq. He specifically cited Russia, where, despite its lack of support for Operation Iraqi Freedom, militants in Beslan killed more than 180 schoolchildren in September 2004.
Just as "no act of ours invited the rage of the killers," the president said, "no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder."
On the contrary, Bush said, any type of concession or retreat would only incite more terror, because terrorists "target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence."
Bush compared the terrorists to other "fanatics in history," ranging from Adolph Hitler to Josef Stalin to Pol Pot, who engineered the deaths of up to 2 million people in Cambodia's "killing fields."
"We must stop them before their crimes can multiply," the president vowed.
The only effective response against terrorism is to stay the course until achieving full victory, Bush said. "We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory," he said.
"We didn't ask for this global struggle," Bush said, "but we're answering history's call with confidence and a comprehensive strategy."
The war on terror won't be fast or easy, he emphasized, but steady progress will have long-term effects on security in the United States and around the world.
"We don't know ... the course our own struggle will take or the sacrifices that might lie ahead," Bush said. "We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force in the world. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail."
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