Bush: Iraq withdrawal would equal defeat
President defends war in Iraq as a terror deterrent while anti-war protesters gather for weekend rally
By Ken Herman
Friday, September 23, 2005
WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Thursday that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, a course to be urged by tens of thousands of anti-war protesters gathering in Washington for a Saturday rally, would amount to a victory for terrorists.
"Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe," Bush said after a briefing at the Pentagon. "To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001.
"Our withdrawal from Iraq would allow the terrorists to claim a historic victory over the United States," he said, adding that it would embolden terrorists and allow them to "dominate the Middle East and launch more attacks on America and other free nations."
Bush's comments came as anti-war protesters prepared for a weekend rally. On Wednesday, Cindy Sheehan, who became a focal point of the effort when she spent the summer near Bush's Crawford ranch, delivered an anti-war message at the White House gate.
On Thursday, an anti-war group used a two-page Washington Post ad to bring attention to its message. One of the pages, titled "They lied," included war-related quotes from Bush and other administration officials that proved wrong. The second page, titled "They died," included the names of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq.
Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, the senior Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, questioned Bush's upbeat assessment of efforts to fight terrorism.
"Seeing is believing, and the evidence strongly suggests that terrorists continue to perpetrate devastating attacks against our troops and civilians around the world," Markey said.
Bush acknowledged the national divide over the war.
"There are differences of opinion about the way forward. I understand that. Some Americans want us to withdraw our troops so that we can escape the violence. I recognize their good intentions, but their position is wrong," he said.
Bush, reeling off a history of terrorist attacks, said that those Americans calling for withdrawing troops are inviting more such attacks.
"The terrorists saw our response to the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole. The terrorists concluded that we lacked the courage and character to defend ourselves, and so they attacked us," he said.
Terrorists, Bush said, can win only "if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission."
"That's not going to happen on my watch," he said.
Bush didn't mention any events during the first President Bush's administration, such as his father's decision to end the 1991 Persian Gulf War without toppling Saddam Hussein.
In a fundamental split with anti-war protesters who see no reason to lose more American lives in Iraq, Bush said the war must continue in the name of those already killed: "We'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission and winning the war on terror."
Bush offered an upbeat assessment, combined with the usual caution about violence to come. In Afghanistan, he cited last Sunday's legislative elections as the most recent progress toward democracy. But he warned: "There are still terrorists who seek to overthrow the young government."
Bush offered a similar assessment for Iraq, where he said Iraqi troops are "increasingly taking the lead in joint operations."
"By leaving Iraqi units in the cities we've cleaned out, we can keep the cities safe while we move on to hunt down the terrorists in other parts of the country," he said.
But Bush also said the United States has temporarily increased its troop levels in Iraq for upcoming Iraqi elections, which he predicted will spark more insurgent activity.
"We must be prepared for more violence," he said, reiterating that it will be a long-term effort. "It's going to take time, just like it took time to defeat other struggles we had . . . like communism."
I think president Bush's claim of the connection between Iraq and 9/11 was never clearly defined in the first place. (I'm not even going to go into the whole WMD fiasco) Yes, I do believe that we should send the terrorists a message that we won't be defeated, but do it covertly, and not the war "made for cable news" that we've been seeing so far.
Houston awaits the incoming of Hurricane Rita, and I really hope that lives would be spared. I'm keeping a neurotic watch over live streaming tv on the net, and just hoping.
How are we, as a nation, going to pay for everything? The war, the disaster relief,etc.?