Do all you childish posters suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome who place all these nasty posts every day calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney or calling President Bush a liar, a Hitler, a murderer, who think it’s funny to speculate about his assassination, do you have the ability to grow up and sit down and read a portion of the speech he gave yesterday?
President's Tipp City Address, April 19, 2007 (Excerpt)
“My decision making was deeply affected by the attack of September the 11th, 2001. It was a -- it was a moment that defined a dangerous world to me with absolute clarity. I realized then that this country was no longer invulnerable to attack from what may be happening overseas.
I realized that there is an enemy of the United States that is active and is lethal. At further study of that enemy, I realized that they share an ideology, that these weren't -- that the -- and when you really think about it, the September the 11th attack was not the first attack. There was a 1993 World Trade Center attack, there was attacks on our embassies in East Africa, there was an attack on the USS Cole, there have been other attacks on U.S. citizens, and that these attacks were instigated and carried out by cold-blooded killers who have a belief system. They are threatened by free societies. They can't stand the thought of freedom being the prevailing attitude in the world because their view is, if you don't believe in what I believe in, you probably shouldn't be around.
This enemy is smart, capable, and unpredictable. They have defined a war on the United States, and I believe we're at war. I believe the attack on America made it clear that we're at war. I wish that wasn't the case. Nobody ought to ever hope to be a war President, or a presidency -- a President during war.
But that's how I see the world. And I made a vow that I would do everything I could, and work with members of Congress to do everything they could, to protect the United States. It is the most solemn duty of our country, is to protect our country from harm.
I've chosen a path that says we will go overseas and defeat them there. I also know full well that it's important for us if we're facing an ideology, if we're facing ideologues, if we're confronting people who believe something, that we have got to defeat their belief system with a better belief system. Forms of government matter, in my opinion. It matters how -- the nature of the government in which people live.
And therefore, I have put as part of our foreign policy not only an aggressive plan to find extremists and radicals and bring them to justice before they hurt us, but also to help people live in liberty -- free societies, as the great alternative to people living under a tyrant, for example.
And so my decision making was based upon those principles. And now we're involved in -- I call it a global war against terror. You can't call it a global war against extremists, a global war against radicals, a global war against people who want to hurt America; you can call it whatever you want, but it is a global effort. And by the way, the United States is not alone in this effort. We're helping lead an effort. And the major battlefield in this global war is Iraq. And I want to spend some time talking about Iraq.
Living under a tyrant must be just brutal, and living under the reign of Saddam Hussein was incredibly brutal. A lot of innocent people were killed, a lot of people were cowed by the state. There really wasn't much in terms of a civil structure that would enable people to have a form of a representative government. People were kept apart through violence, in many ways. People were pitted against each other. A lot of people were given favored treatment.
The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was a difficult decision, I think a necessary decision. If you want to talk about that later on, we can. And what has happened since then is that we are trying to help a young democracy survive in the heart of the Middle East, and at the same time prevent our stated enemies from establishing safe haven from which to attack us again.
Now I say that -- preventing our enemies from establishing a safe haven from which to attack us again -- because that is their stated objective in Iraq. That's what al Qaeda says. Al Qaeda is the same group of folks that attacked us on September the 11th. They have said their objective is to drive the United States out of Iraq in order to establish safe haven. And why would they need safe haven? They would need safe haven from which to plot and plan and train to attack again. They have an objective, and that is to spread their ideology throughout the Middle East. That is what they have stated. That's their objectives.
Our objective is to deny them safe haven, is to prevent al Qaeda from being able to do in Iraq that which they did in Afghanistan, which is where they trained thousands of young men to come and kill -- to eventually kill innocent people.
Our objective also is to help a young democracy flourish in a part of the world that desperately needs liberty, in a part of the world where government -- forms of government will provide hope so as eventually to discourage the type of mentality that says 19 kids should get on airplanes and kill 3,000 people.
And it's incredibly hard work, but I have come to the conclusion, obviously, that it's necessary work. It's necessary work for peace.
In 2005, the Iraqi people went to the polls; 12 million voted. I view that as a statement that says -- by the way, I wasn't surprised that 12 million people, if given a chance to vote, voted. I was pleased, but I wasn't surprised. And the reason I wasn't surprised is because I believe in this principle: I believe liberty is universal. I don't believe freedom is just confined to America. I think there is a universal principle that all people desire and want and should be free, that it's not just an American ideal, it is universal.
I think back, for example, right after World War II -- people might have argued after fighting the Japanese that they don't want to be free, they're the enemy; they killed a lot of people, they attacked the United States; why should we work to help them be free? Except those people were -- didn't quite understand not only do people want to be free, that when free societies emerge they're more likely to yield the peace.
And so it's a -- this country began to evolve, and it started with elections. It's easy to forget the elections because of all the violence. In 2006, I was convinced that we would be able to reposition our troops and have fewer troops in Iraq because the Iraqis want to take on the security themselves. This is a sovereign government. People got elected. They want to be -- showing the people of Iraq that they can run their own government. I don't know if you get that sense on your TV screens or not, but I certainly get that sense when I talk to the Prime Minister, with whom I speak quite frequently.
And yet they -- and yet, the enemy -- and the enemy -- when I say, enemy, these are enemies of free societies, primarily al Qaeda inspired -- blew up the great religious shrine in '06, a year ago -- all aiming to create a sense of sectarian violence, all aiming to exacerbate the religious tensions that sometimes were exacerbated under Saddam Hussein, all aiming at preventing this young democracy from succeeding. And they succeeded. The enemy succeeded in causing there to be sectarian strife. In other words, the government wasn't ready to provide security. People started taking matters into their own hands. I'm going to protect myself, or I'm going to rely upon somebody else to protect me, they would say.
So I have a decision point to make, last fall. And the decision point was whether or not to either scale back or increase our presence in Iraq. And that was a difficult decision. It's difficult any time, as I told you, you put a soldier in harm's way. I understand the consequence of committing people into war. The interesting thing is I'm the Commander-in-Chief of an incredibly amazing group of men and women who also understand that consequence, and yet are willing to volunteer.
The question was, do we increase our -- I call it, reinforce, you can call it, surge, there's all kind of words for it -- or do we pull back? As you know, I made a decision to reinforce. And I did because I believe the Iraqis want to have a peaceful society. I believe Iraqi mothers want their children to grow up in peace, just like American mothers do. I think, if given a chance, that society can emerge into a free society. I felt strongly that if violence erupted, sectarian violence erupted in the capital, it would make it impossible to achieve the objective, and that is to help this free society. Listen, there are -- or let it emerge into a free society.
And the goal is a country that is stable enough for the government to work, that can defend itself and serve as an ally in this war on terror, that won't be a safe haven, that will deny the extremists and the radicals. I happen to think there will be an additional dividend when we succeed -- remember the rug? I'm optimistic we can succeed. I wouldn't ask families to have their troops there if I didn't think, one, it was necessary, and two, we can succeed. I believe we're going to succeed. And I believe success will embolden other moderate people that said, we're going to reject extremists and radicals in their midst.
There's a good group of people in Washington, fair, decent, honorable people -- and by the way, in this political discourse, we should never question anybody's patriotism if they don't happen to agree with the President. That's not the American way. The American way is we ought to have a honest and open dialogue. There are good people, patriotic people who didn't believe that additional troops would make that big a difference, and therefore, we should not increase, but in some cases, pull out; in some cases, pull back. Either case, having weighed the options, I didn't think it was viable, and I didn't think it would work.
A couple of points I want to make, and then I promise to stop talking and answer your questions. People often ask me, what are we seeing on TV? What's happening with the violence? Here's my best analysis: One, the spectaculars you see are al Qaeda inspired. They claim credit for a lot of the big bombings. The bombing of the parliament was al Qaeda; the bombing of the Golden Samarra was al Qaeda. These are the Sunni extremists inspired by Osama bin Laden who attacked the United States. I keep repeating that because I want you to understand what matters overseas, in my judgment, affects the security of the United States of America in this new era.
Their objective is twofold: One, shake the confidence of the average Iraqi that their government is incapable of providing security, and therefore, people will turn to militias in order to protect themselves. Their second objective is to shake our confidence. It's an interesting war, isn't it, where asymmetrical warfare is -- and that means people being able to use suicide bombers -- not only, obviously, kills a lot of innocent people, like which happened yesterday in Iraq, but also helps define whether or not we're successful.
If the definition of success in Iraq or anywhere is no suicide bombers, we'll never be successful. We will have handed al Qaeda "that's what it takes" in order to determine whether or not these young democracies, for example, can survive. Think about that: if our definition is no more suiciders, you've just basically said to the suiciders, go ahead.
Iran is influential inside of Iraq. They are influential by providing advanced weaponry. They are influential by dealing with some militias, tend to be Shia militias, all aiming to create discomfort, all aiming to kind of -- according to some -- to create enough discomfort for the United States, but in doing so, they're making it harder for this young democracy to emerge. Isn't it interesting, when you really take a step back and think about what I just said, that al Qaeda is making serious moves in Iraq, as is surrogates for Iran.
Two of the biggest issues we face for the security of this country today and tomorrow is al Qaeda and Iran. And yet their influence is being played out in Iraq.
I believe that if we were to leave before this country had an opportunity to stabilize, to grow -- and by the way, I fully understand and completely agree with those who say, this is not just a military mission alone. That is too much to ask our military to be able to achieve objectives without there being a corresponding political avenue, political strategy being fulfilled by the Iraqis. I fully expect them to reconcile. I fully expect them -- and I made it clear to the Prime Minister -- that they should pass different de-Baathification law, that they ought to have local elections, that they ought to share their oil wells so that people feel a common -- you know, a common bound to something bigger than provincialism.
They have to do work. They know they have to do work. I told that to Prime Minister Maliki this week on a secure video: You have an obligation to your people, and to our people, for that matter, to do the hard work necessary, to show people that you're capable of getting your government to move forward with political reconciliation. There has to be reconstruction money spent, their reconstruction money. They've dedicated $10 billion out of their budget, and now they've got to spend that money wisely to show people that the government can be for all the people.
But if we were to leave before that were to happen, I will share a scenario that I'm fearful of. One, that the very radicals and extremists who attack us would be emboldened. It would confirm their sense that the United States is incapable of long-term commitments, incapable of -- it would confirm their commitment that they think we're soft, let me put it to you that way. That's what they think.
I didn't necessarily mean that the United States has to kind of muscle up for the sake of muscling up. That's not what I'm trying to say. But I do believe it is risky to have an enemy that has attacked us before to not take the United States seriously for the long run.
Secondly, there would be a violence -- level of violence that would spill out beyond just the capital, could spill out beyond Iraq. And then you would have ancient feuds fueled by extremists and radicals competing for power -- radical Shia, radical extreme Sunnis, all competing for power. They would happen to share two enemies: one, the United States and Israel, for starters, and every other moderate person in the Middle East.
Imagine a scenario where the oil wealth of certain countries became controlled -- came under the control of a radical, extremist group. And then all of a sudden you'd be dealing not only with safe haven for potential violent attack, you'd be dealing with the economic consequences of people who didn't share the values of the West, for example.
Iran wants to -- they've stated they'd like to have -- let me just say, we believe they would like to have a nuclear weapon. Part of our diplomacy is to prevent them from doing so. If the United States were to leave a chaotic Iraq, not only would the vacuum of our failure there to help this young government enable extremists to move more freely and embolden them, but I also believe it would -- it could cause the Middle East to enter into a nuclear arms race.
The scenario I'm beginning to describe to you I believe is a real scenario, a real possibility for a scenario, and I believe if this were to happen, people would look back 30 years from now, or 20 years from now, and say, what happened to them in 2007; how come they couldn't see the threat?
And so I want to share that with you -- these thoughts with you, because as a person whose job it is to make decisions, you've got to understand that I'm making them on what I believe is solid ground. These are necessary decisions for the country.
We're having an interesting debate in Washington. John and I spent some time talking about it, and that is, this supplemental funding. I sent up a request to make sure our troops had the money necessary to do the missions that they have been asked to do. I want to share a couple thoughts with you on that, and then I'll answer some questions.
First, I think it's a mistake -- and I've made it clear -- that the Congress should not have artificial timetables for withdrawal in a funding statement. I'll tell you why. (Applause.) Thank you. The reason why is, if you're a young commander on the ground, or an Iraqi soldier, and you've been tasked with a mission to help provide security for a city, and an enemy hears that you're leaving soon, it affects your capacity to do your job. It sends a signal to a dangerous part of the world that it's just a matter of time things will happen.
I think it's a mistake for Congress to tell the military how to do its job. We've got fantastic generals and colonels and captains who are trained to carry on military missions; that's their responsibility. And it's very important that they be given the resources and the flexibility necessary to carry out that which the Commander-in-Chief has asked them to do.
I fully understand the debate, and again I repeat to you, it's an important debate. I would hope it would be conducted with civil tone to bring honor to the process. Sometimes it gets a little out of hand there in Washington, I admit. But my message to the Congress has been, don't put our troops in between the debate; let's get them the money, let's get the commanders the flexibility, and we can debate Iraq policy without shorting the capacity for these troops to do their jobs.
These are -- I would call these times consequential times. I believe we're in a long, ideological struggle. And I believe the struggle will determine whether or not this country is secure. People ask me -- you know, I've been reading a lot of history. People ask me, can you think of any historical parallels? Well, clearly the Cold War is an interesting parallel. There's a -- by the way, every new phase of history has its own unique features to it. For example, you've got a kid in the battlefield and he's emailing home every day. Or, four-hour [sic] news cycles.
There's a lot of -- asymmetrical warfare, or $50 weapons are sometimes used to defeat expensive vehicles. In other words, these are different times.
But there are some parallels. One is, of course, the ideological standoff during the Cold War, eventually won by freedom, the forces of freedom. For some, that sounds maybe corny. But it's true. It's an historical truth. And in my judgment, it requires people to have faith in that universal principle of liberty.
I like to remind people that my dad was a 18-year-old kid when he signed up to -- for the United States Navy in World War II, and went off to combat in a really bloody war. And yet, his son becomes the President, and one of his best friends in the international scene was the Prime Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Koizumi was a partner in peace. Isn't it interesting? I think there's a historical lesson there, that liberty has got the capacity to transform enemies to allies.
I think there's a lesson in Korea. I think if you were to ask somebody to predict in 1953 what the world would look like in the Far East, I don't think they would have said, China would have a marketplace that was growing, Korea would be our sixth largest trading partner -- I think it's the sixth largest trading partner, but certainly a partner in peace. And Japan would have been an ally, a strong ally that would have committed troops to the young democracy of Iraq, to help this democracy. I don't think people would have predicted that, but, in fact, it happened. It happened because the United States provided enough stability so that societies were able to evolve toward free societies, or freer societies.
We've got -- we face this -- we face a unique set of challenges, but I think we can learn something from history when we think about those challenges. I guess my conclusion is, I believe the decisions I have made were not only necessary to protect the country, but are laying a foundation of peace, the beginnings of laying that foundation of peace, so that generations will look back and say, thank goodness -- thank goodness, America didn't lose sight of basic principles, and thank goodness, America stayed true to her beliefs, and thank goodness, America led.”
Labels: Politics, War on Islamic Terrorism