Bush: Victory in Iraq Will be Blow to Terrorist Ideology

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2006 – A successful democracy in Iraq will be a major tactical and ideological blow to the totalitarian vision of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, President Bush said in California today.

"One, it will be a tactical blow. We'll deny them that which they want," Bush said in a speech in Irvine. "But secondly, it will be a major blow because, in the long term, the best way to defeat an ideology of hatred is with an ideology of hope."

Bush said the United States learned a lot of important lessons on Sept. 11, 2001.

The first is that the U.S. faces an enemy with no regard for innocent life, and the only way to deal with this is to stay on the offensive, "which is precisely what the United States is doing and will continue to do for the safety of the American people," he said.

Another important lesson is that terrorists cannot be allowed to find safe haven in any country, which they would do in Iraq if the United States were to pull out of the country. "We denied safe haven in Afghanistan, and we're denying them safe haven in Iraq," Bush said.

Terrorists' most powerful weapon is their "willingness and capacity to kill innocent people," Bush said.

"They understand the United States of America is a compassionate nation," Bush said. "I'm sure they view it as a weakness of our country; I happen to view it as a strength that we value every life, that every person is precious. But they know, and it doesn't take much to realize that when you put carnage on our TV screens, it causes us to weep."

He said it's a "legitimate question" for the American people to wonder if the cause is worth fighting for in Iraq, but that Americans must remain steadfast in their resolve.

"It's very important for the American people to understand that they're trying to run us out of Iraq for a purpose, and the purpose is to be able to have safe haven from which to launch further attacks," Bush said. "And I understand it, and we've got a strategy in place to achieve victory."

The president also spoke about a visit a day earlier to U.S. Marines in Twentynine Palms, Calif. "These young men and women are incredibly dedicated. They are motivated. They understand that we must defeat the enemy over there so we do not have to face them here at home," he said.

"Most of them raised their hand to volunteer after September the 11th. Many of them have said, 'I want to continue to serve our country.' We're lucky to have people like them willing to serve," he continued. "And the United States government, whether you agree with my policy or not, must stand by our troops. When they're in harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best equipment, and the best possible support."

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