President Bush addressed the U.S. Naval Academy
in Annapolis and outlined his vision for achieving success in the
Iraqi war. The speech will without question be referred to in
upcoming days and will mark a turning point in his presidency.
Every quote is a pull quote so I am insisting Click below to read READ IT ALL.
Now if only he would the same for the state of the economy and do it DAILY! From Fellow Pajamas Media Contributor and Editorial member;
"Will someone please explain why the Bush White House and the Republican
Congress are not trumpeting this economic boom on a daily basis? Their polls are
sagging, but the economy is soaring. This simply shouldn’t be. If former
President Clinton had overseen this economy, he’d have held daily Rose Garden
news conferences to mark the occasion. In fact, former President Reagan did just
that in the booming 1980s — he gave speech after speech touting the success of
his supply-side tax cuts. Yet President Bush seldom goes into the current
economic story, and when he does it’s just a mention" — Larry Kudlow, CNBC host
and former Reagan Administration economist.
President Bush’s address to the U.S. Naval Academy
ANNAPOLIS — Thank you. Thank you.
Please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome.
It’s good to be back at the Naval Academy. I’m pleased to provide a
convenient excuse for you to miss class.
It’s the first year that every class of midshipmen at this academy arrived
after the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. Each of you have volunteered to
wear our nation’s uniform in a time of war, knowing all the risks and dangers
that accompany military service.
Our citizens are grateful for your devotion of duty. And America’s proud of
the men and women at the U.S. Naval Academy.
I thank Admiral Rent (ph) for his invitation to come and give this speech. I
appreciate Admiral Mike Mullen (ph). I’m traveling today with a man who’s done a
fine job as the secretary of defense, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Navy aviator Don Rumsfeld.
I’m proud that the governor of the great state of Maryland, Bob Ehrlich and
his wife, Kendel, is with us.
Thanks for being here, Governor.
So appreciative that members of the United States Congress have joined us,
starting with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John
Warner of the state of Virginia.
Former secretary of the United States Navy, I might add.
Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Congressman
From the state of Arizona, Congressman John Shadegg.
And from the state of Indiana, Congressman Mike Pence.
I’m honored you all came. Thanks for being here.
Appreciate the mayor of the city of Annapolis, Mayor Ellen Moyer, joining us.
I want to thank all the state and local officials.
I want to thank the faculty members here. Thank you all for letting me come
Six months ago I came here to address the graduating class of 2005. I spoke
to them about the importance of their service in the first war of the 21st
century: the global war on terror.
I told the class of 2005 that four years at this academy had prepared them
morally, mentally and physically for the challenges ahead. And now they’re
meeting those challenges as officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
Some of your former classmates are training with Navy SEAL teams that will
storm terrorist safe houses in lightning raids. Others are preparing to lead
Marine rifle platoons that will hunt the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan
and the streets of Iraqi cities. Others are training as naval aviators who will
fly combat missions over the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere.
Still others are training as sailors and submariners who will deliver the
combat power of the United States to the farthest regions of the world, and
deliver compassionate assistance to those suffering from natural disasters.
Whatever their chosen mission, every graduate of the class of 2005 is
bringing honor to the uniform and helping us bring victory in the war on terror.
In the years ahead, you’ll join them in the fight. Your service is needed
because our nation is engaged in a war that is being fought on many fronts: from
the streets of Western cities to the mountains of Afghanistan, the islands of
Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa.
This war is going to take many turns. And the enemy must be defeated on every
Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their
war against humanity. And so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the
war on terror.
As we fight the enemy in Iraq, every man and woman who volunteers to defend
our nation deserves an unwavering commitment to the mission and a clear strategy
A clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The
enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists.
The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis,
mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of
Saddam Hussein. And they reject an Iraq in which they’re no longer the dominant
Not all Sunnis fall into the rejectionist camp. Of those that do, most are
not actively fighting us. Some give aid and comfort to the enemy.
Many Sunnis boycotted the January elections. Yet as democracy takes hold in
Iraq, they are recognizing that opting out of the democratic process has hurt
their interests. And today, those who advocate violent opposition are being
increasingly isolated by Sunnis who choose peaceful participation in the
Sunnis voted in the recent constitutional referendum in large numbers. And
Sunni coalitions have formed to compete in next month’s elections — or this
We believe that, over time, most rejectionists will be persuaded to support a
democratic Iraq led by a federal government that is a strong enough government
to protect minority rights.
The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller but more
determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power
under Saddam Hussein, people who still harbor dreams of returning to power.
These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti- democratic sentiment
amongst the larger Sunni community.
They lack popular support and therefore cannot stop Iraq’s democratic
progress. And over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi
people and the security forces of a free Iraq.
The third group is the smallest but the most lethal: the terrorists
affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida.
Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom’s progress in Iraq. This
group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia and Syria and Iran and Egypt and
Sudan and Yemen and Libya and other countries.
Our commanders believe they’re responsible for most of the suicide bombings
and the beheadings and the other atrocities we see on our television.
They’re led by a brutal terrorist named Zarqawi, Al Qaida’s chief of
operations in Iraq, who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
Their objective is to drive the United States and coalition forces out of
Iraq and to use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain
control of the country.
They would then use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against
America and overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East and try to
establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain.
That’s their stated objective. That’s what their leadership has said.
These terrorists have nothing to offer the Iraqi people.
All they have is the capacity and the willingness to kill the innocent and
create chaos for the cameras.
They’re trying to shake our will to achieve their stated objectives. They
America’s will is strong. And they will fail because the will to power is no
match for the universal desire to live in liberty.
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 giveaway
outside an Iraqi hospital.
This is an enemy without conscience, and they cannot be appeased. If we’re
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
To achieve victory over such enemies, we are pursuing a comprehensive
strategy in Iraq. Americans should have a clear understanding of this strategy:
how we look at the war, how we see the enemy, how we define victory and what
we’re doing to achieve it.
So today we’re releasing a document called the "National Strategy for Vict
ory in Iraq." This is an unclassified version of the strategy we’ve been
pursuing in Iraq, and it is posted on the White House Web site, whitehouse.gov.
I urge all Americans to read it.
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
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
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’ve involved the United Nations, other international
organizations, our coalition partners and supportive regional states in helping
Iraqis build their future.
In the days ahead, I’ll be discussing the various pillars of our strategy in
Iraq. Today I want to speak in depth about one aspect of this strategy that will
be critical to the victory in Iraq, and that’s the training of Iraq security
To defeat the terrorists and marginalize the Saddamists and rejectionists,
Iraqis need strong military and police forces.
Iraqi troops bring knowledge and capabilities to the fight that coalition
forces cannot. Iraqis know their people, they know their language and they know
their culture, and they know who the terrorists are.
Iraqi forces are earning the trust of their countrymen who are willing to
help them in the fight against the enemy. As the Iraqi forces grow in number,
they’re helping to keep a better hold on the cities taken from the enemy. And as
Iraqi forces grow more capable, they’re increasingly taking the lead in the
fight against the terrorists.
Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight. And
this will take time and patience.
And it’s worth the time and it’s worth the effort, because Iraqis and
Americans share a common enemy. And when that enemy is defeated in Iraq,
Americans will be safer here at home.
The training of the Iraqi forces is an enormous task and it always hadn’t
gone smoothly. We all remember the reports of some Iraqi security forces running
from a fight more than a year ago. Yet in the past year, Iraqi forces have made
At this time last year there were only a handful of Iraqi battalions ready
for combat. Now there are over 120 Iraqi army and police combat battalions in
the fight against the terrorists, typically comprised of between 350 and 800
Of these, about 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side by side with coalition
forces, and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight. Most of these 40
battalions are controlling their own battlespace, conducting their own
operations against the terrorists with some coalition support, and they’re
helping to turn the tide of the struggle in freedom’s favor.
America and our troops are proud to stand side by side with these brave Iraqi
The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent
anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year’s assault in
In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions, made up
primarily of United States Marines and Army, with six Iraqi battalions
The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties, yet in most situations the Iraqi
role was limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces and securing
ground that had already been cleared out by our troops.
This year in Tal Afar it was a very different story. The assault was
primarily led by Iraqi security forces, 11 Iraqi battalions backed by five
coalition battalions providing support.
Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled
their own battlespace, hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods,
block by block.
To consolidate their military success, Iraqi units stayed behind to help
maintain law and order. And reconstruction projects have been started to improve
infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope.
One of the Iraqi soldiers who fought in Tal Afar was a private named Tariq
Hasam (ph). This brave Iraqi fighter says, quote, "We’re not afraid. We’re here
to protect our country. All we feel is motivated to kill the terrorists," end
Iraqi forces not only cleared the city, they held it. And because of the
skill and courage of the Iraqi forces, the citizens of Tal Afar were able to
vote in October’s constitutional referendum.
As Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead in the fight against the
terrorists, they’re also taking control of more and more Iraqi territory.
At this moment, over 30 Iraqi army battalions have assumed primary control of
their own areas of responsibility.
In Baghdad, Iraqi battalions have taken over major sectors of the capital,
including some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.
Last year, the area around Baghdad’s Haifa Street was so thick with
terrorists it had earned the nickname Purple Heart Boulevard. Then Iraqi forces
took responsibility for this dangerous neighborhood, and attacks are now down.
Our coalition has handed over roughly 90 square miles of Baghdad province to
Iraqi security forces. Iraqi battalions have taken over responsibility for areas
in south-central Iraq, sectors of southeast Iraq, sectors of western Iraq, and
sectors of north-central Iraq.
As Iraqi forces take responsibility for more of their own territory,
coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis and hunting down high-value
targets, like the terrorists Zarqawi and his associates.
We’re also transferring forward operating bases to Iraqi control. Over a
dozen bases in Iraq have been handed over to the Iraqi government, including
Saddam Hussein’s former palace in Tikrit, which has served as the coalition
headquarters in one of Iraq’s most dangerous regions.
From many of these bases, the Iraqi security forces are planning and
executing operations against the terrorists and bringing security and pride to
the Iraqi people.
Progress by the Iraqi security forces has come in part because we learned
from our early experiences and made changes in the way we helped train Iraqi
When our coalition first arrived, we began the progress of creating an Iraqi
army to defend the country from external threats, and an Iraqi civil defense
corps to help provide the security within Iraq’s borders.
The civil defense forces did not have sufficient firepower or training. They
proved to be no match for an enemy armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled
grenades and mortars. So the approach was adjusted.
Working with Iraq’s leaders, we moved the civil defense forces into the Iraqi
army. We changed the way they’re trained and equipped. And we focused the army’s
mission on defeating those fighting against a free Iraq, whether internal or
Now all Iraqi army recruits receive about the same length of basic training
as new recruits in the U.S. Army: a five-week core course followed by an
additional three to seven weeks of specialized training.
With coalition help, Iraqis have established schools for their Iraqi military
services: an Iraqi military academy, a noncommissioned officer academy, a
military police school, a bomb disposal school, and NATO has established an
Iraqi joint staff college.
There’s also an increased focus on leadership training, with professional
development courses for Iraqi squad leaders and platoon sergeants and warrant
officers and sergeants major.
A new generation of Iraqi officers is being trained: leaders who will lead
their forces with skill, so they can defeat the terrorists and secure their own
Similar changes have taken place in the training of the Iraqi police. When
our coalition first arrived, Iraqi police recruits spent too much time of their
training in classroom lectures and they received limited training in the use of
This did not adequately prepare them for the fight they would face. And so we
changed the way the Iraqi police are trained.
Now police recruits spend more of their time outside the classroom, with
intensive hands-on training in anti-terrorism operations and real-world survival
Iraq has now six basic police academies and one in Jordan that together
produce over 3,500 new police officers every 10 weeks.
The Baghdad police academy has simulation models where Iraqis train to stop
IED attacks and operate roadblocks. And because Iraqi police are not just facing
common criminals, they’re getting live-fire training with AK-47s.
As more and more skilled Iraqi security forces have come on-line, there’s
been another important change in the way new Iraqi recruits are trained.
When the training effort began, nearly all the trainers came from coalition
countries. Today, the vast majority of Iraqi police and army recruits are being
taught by Iraqi instructors.
By training the trainers, we’re helping Iraqis create an institutional
capability that will allow the Iraqi forces to continue to develop and grow long
after coalition forces have left Iraq.
As the training has improved, so has the quality of the recruits being
Even though the terrorists are targeting Iraqi police and army recruits,
there is no shortage of Iraqis who are willing to risk their lives to secure the
future of a free Iraq.
The efforts to include more Sunnis in the future of Iraq were giving a
significant boost earlier this year. More than 60 influential Sunni clerics
issued a fatwa calling on young Sunnis to join the Iraqi security forces, quote,
"for the sake of preserving the souls, property and honor of the Iraqi people."
These religious leaders are helping to make the Iraqi security forces a truly
national institution, one that is able to serve, protect and defend all the
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.
We’re also helping Iraqis build the institutions they need to support their
For example, a national depot has been established north of Baghdad that is
responsibility for supplying the logistical needs of the 10 divisions of the
Regional support units and base support units have been created across the
country with the mission of supplying their own war- fighters.
Iraqis now have a small air force that recently conducted its first combat
airlift operations, bringing Iraqi troops to the front in Tal Afar.
The new Iraqi navy is now helping to protect the vital ports of Basra and Umm
An Iraqi military intelligence school has been established to produce skilled
Iraqi intelligence analysts and collectors.
By taking all these steps, we’re helping the Iraqi security forces become
self-supporting so they can take the fight to the enemy and so they can sustain
themselves in the fight.
Over the past two and a half years, we’ve faced some setbacks in standing up
a capable Iraqi security force and their performance is still uneven in some
areas. Yet many of those forces have made real gains over the past year and
Iraqi soldiers take pride in their progress.
An Iraqi first lieutenant named Shokut (ph) describes the transformation of
his unit this way: "I really think we’ve turned the corner here. At first, the
whole country didn’t take us seriously. Now things are different. Our guys are
hungry to demonstrate their skill and to show the world."
Our troops in Iraq see the gains that Iraqis are making. Lieutenant Colonel
Todd Wooder (ph), Richmond Hill, Georgia, is training Iraqi forces forces in
Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. He says this about Iraqi units he’s working
with: "They’re pretty much ready to go it on their own. What they’re doing now
would have been impossible a year ago. These guys are patriots, willing to go
out knowing the insurgents would like nothing better than to kill them and their
families. They’re getting better and they’ll keep getting better."
Our commanders on the ground see the gains the Iraqis are making. General
Marty Dempsey is the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command.
Here’s what he says about the transformation of the Iraqi security forces: "It’s
beyond description. They’re far better equipped, far better trained than they
"The Iraqis," General Dempsey says, "are increasingly in control of their
future and their own security. The Iraqi security forces are regaining control
of the country."
As the Iraqi security forces stand up, their confidence is growing. And
they’re taking on tougher and more important missions on their own.
As the Iraqi security forces stand up, the confidence of the Iraqi people is
growing, and Iraqis are providing the vital intelligence needed to track down
And as the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down.
And when our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops
will return home to a proud nation.
This is a goal our Iraqi allies share. An Iraqi army sergeant named Abbas
Abdul Jabbar (ph) puts it this way: "We have to help the coalition forces as
much as we can to give them the chance to go home. These guys have been helping
us; now we have to protect our own families."
America will help the Iraqis so they can protect their families and secure
their free nation. We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission.
If our military leaders tell me we need more troops, I will send them. For
example, we’ve 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 progress 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.
Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial
timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere, but I believe they’re
Pulling our troops out before they’ve achieved their p urpose 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
Senator Lieberman is right: Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would
send a message across the world that America is 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 terrorist
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.
As we train Iraqis to take more responsibility in the battle with the
terrorists, we’re also helping them build a democracy that is worthy of their
And in just over two and a half years, the Iraqi people have made incredible
progress on the road to lasting freedom. Iraqis have gone from living under the
boot of a brutal tyrant to liberation, free elections and a democratic
constitution, and in 15 days they will go to the polls to elect a fully
constitutional government that will lead them for the next four years.
With each ballot cast. the Iraqi people have sent a clear message to the
terrorists: Iraqis will not be intimidated. The Iraqi people will determine the
destiny of their country. The future of Iraq belongs to freedom.
Despite the costs, the pain and the danger, Iraqis are showing courage. And
are moving forward to build a free society and a lasting democracy in the heart
of the Middle East. And the United States of America will help them succeed.
Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to,
quote, "Stay the course."
If by "Stay the course," they mean, "We will not allow the terrorists to
break our will," they’re right.
If by "Stay the course," they mean, "We will not permit Al Qaida to turn Iraq
into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven for terrorism and a
launching pad for attacks on America," they’re 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 outthink 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
Victory in Iraq will demand the continued determination and resolve of the
American people. It will also demand the strength and personal courage of the
men and women who wear our nation’s uniform.
And as the future officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, you’re
preparing to join this fight. You do so at a time when there is a vigorous
debate about the war in Iraq.
I know that, for our men and women in uniform, this debate can be unsettling.
When you’re risking your life to accomplish a mission, the last thing you want
to hear is that mission being questioned in our nation’s capital.
I want you to know that, while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in
Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute: The American people stand behind
And we should not fear the debate in Washington. It’s one of the great
strengths of our democracy that we can discuss our differences openly and
honestly, even at times of war.
Your service makes that freedom possible. And today, because of the men and
women in our military, people are expressing their opinions freely in the
streets of Baghdad as well.
Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win and
they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my
goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory.
In World War II, victory came when the empire of Japan surrendered on the
deck of the USS Missouri.
In Iraq, there will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship.
Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten
Iraq’s democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of
their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new
attacks on our nation.
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
In the short run, we’re going to bring justice to our enemies. In the long
run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the
hope of freedom across the broader Middle East.
We’ve seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before.
In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism
and freedom prevailed. And today, Germany and Japan are democracies and they are
allies in securing the peace.
In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a
democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from
Soviet domination. And today these nations are allies in the war on terror.
Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with an ideology
that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair.
And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror
will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom. And as democracy spreads
in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.
Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with
ensuring the success of a free Iraq. Freedom’s victory in that country will
inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran and spread hope across a
troubled region, and lift a terrible threat from the lives of our citizens.
By strengthening Iraqi democracy, we will gain a partner in the cause of
peace and moderation in the Muslim world and an ally in the worldwide struggle
against the terrorists.
Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is a mission that
created our nation, and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans.
We will meet the challenge of our time. We will answer history’s call with
confidence because we know that freedom is the destiny of every man, woman and
child on this Earth.
Before our mission in Iraq is accomplished, there will be tough days ahead. A
time of war is a time of sacrifice and we’ve lost some very fine men and women
in this war on terror.
Many of you know comrades and classmates who left our shores to defend
freedom and who did not live to make the journey home.
We pray for the military families who mourn the loss of loved ones. We hold
them in our hearts and we honor the memory of every fallen soldier, sailor,
airman, Coast Guardman and Marine.
One of those fallen heroes is a Marine corporal named Jeff Starr (ph) who was
killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a
letter was found on his laptop computer. Here’s what he wrote.
He said, "If you’re reading this, then I’ve died in Iraq. I don’t regret
going. Everybody dies but a few get to do it for something as important as
"It may seem confusing why we’re in Iraq; it’s not to me. I’m here helping
these people so they can live the way we live, not to have to worry about
tyrants or vicious dictators. Others have died for my freedom; now this is my
There’s only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr (ph) and his
fallen comrades. And that is to take up their mantle, carry on the fight and
complete their mission.
We will take the fight to the terrorists. We will help the Iraqi people lay
the foundations of a strong democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself and
And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq, we will lay the foundation
of peace for generations to come.
You all are the ones who will help accomplish all this. Our freedom and our
way of life are in your hands, and they’re in the best of hands.
I want to thank you for your service to the cause of freedom. I want to thank
you for wearing the uniform. May God bless you all, and may God continue to
bless the United States of America.
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