Advance of Freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan Will Succeed
Excerpt of Remarks by President George Bush.
In the past 29 months, many terrorists have learned the meaning
of justice. Nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or
otherwise dealt with. (Applause.) The terrorists are on the run, with good
reason to fear what the night might bring. Thousands of very skilled and
determined military personnel are on an international manhunt, going after
remaining killers who hide in caves and in cities. When they attacked our
country, the terrorists chose their own fate, and they are meeting that fate,
one by one. (Applause.)
Success in the war on terror also requires that we confront regimes that might
arm terrorists with the ultimate weapon. There's no greater danger before this
nation and humanity than the possibility of secret and sudden attack with a
nuclear or chemical or biological weapon. We must confront this danger with open
eyes and unbending purpose. I made clear the policy of this country: America
will not permit terrorists and dangerous regimes who threaten us with the
world's most deadly weapons. (Applause.)
So to get allies on our side, we have shown this resolve in decisive action to
liberate two nations once ruled by terror regimes. The first to see our
determination was the Taliban, who made Afghanistan the primary base of al Qaeda.
That was where the training camps operated. That is where the attacks of
September the 11th were conceived. And that's where we first took the fight to
Two years after we liberated Afghanistan, our troops continue to face danger.
Our coalition is leading aggressive raids to rout out surviving members of the
Taliban and al Qaeda. The new Afghan army is adding to the stability of that
country. Afghanistan still has challenge, but that nation is a world away from
the nightmare of the Taliban. (Applause.)
As of last month, Afghanistan has a new constitution, guaranteed free elections
and full participation by women. (Applause.) Businesses are opening, health care
centers are being established, and the children of Afghanistan are back in
school -- boys and girls. (Applause.) The people of Afghanistan are building a
nation that is free, that is proud, and that is fighting terror. And America is
honored to be their friend.
The former regime in Iraq also witnessed America's resolve to confront dangers
before they fully materialize. My administration looked at the intelligence
information and we saw danger. Members of Congress looked at the same
intelligence, and they saw danger. The United Nations Security Council looked at
the intelligence, and it saw a danger. We reached a reasonable conclusion that
Saddam Hussein was a danger. We remembered his
history: He waged aggressive wars against neighboring countries and aspired to
dominate the Middle East. He cultivated ties to terrorists. He built weapons of
mass destruction. He used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He
hid those weapons.
In 1998, the President and the Congress made it the policy of the United States
to change the regime in Iraq. In September of 2001, America made a
decision: We will not live in the shadow of gathering threats. In 2003, after 12
years of deception by Saddam Hussein, he was given one final chance. The U.N.
Security Council demanded a full accounting of his weapons programs, or face
serious consequences. Saddam Hussein chose defiance. And we had a choice of our
own: Either take the word of a madman, or take action to defend America and the
world. Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Having broken the Baathist regime in Iraq, we face a remnant of violent Saddam
supporters. Men who ran away from our troops in battle are now dispersed and
attack from the shadows. These killers are joined by foreign terrorists.
Recently in Iraq, we intercepted a letter sent by a terrorist named Zarqawi, a
man well-known to our intelligence services. Zarqawi operated in and out of
Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He ordered the murder of an American diplomat in Jordan.
He fought against our troops in Afghanistan. And now, in a letter we
intercepted, Zarqawi is urging al Qaeda members to wage terrorist war on our
coalition in Iraq.
In the document, Zarqawi describes the terrorist strategy, lays it all
out: Tear the country apart with ethnic violence; to undermine Iraqi security
forces; to demoralize our coalition; to prevent the rise of a sovereign
democratic government. This terrorist outlined his efforts to recruit and train
suicide bombers. He boasts of 25 attacks on innocent Iraqis and coalition
Zarqawi, and men like him, have made Iraq the central front in our war on
terror. The terrorists know that the emergence of a free Iraq will be a major
blow against the worldwide terrorist movement. And in this, they are correct.
But we've seen this enemy before, and we know how to deal with them. Fighting
alongside the people of Afghanistan, we are defeating the terrorists in that
country. And fighting alongside the people of Iraq, we will defeat the
terrorists there, as well. Iraq, like Afghanistan, will be free. (Applause.)
We're making good progress against these enemies, by staying on the defensive,
with hundreds of patrols and swift and precision raids every single day. Thanks
to our military, thanks to our brave soldiers, Iraq citizens do not have to fear
the dictator's secret police, or ending up in a mass grave. The torture chambers
are closed. Of the top 55 officials of the former regime, we have captured or
killed 46. (Applause.) And as for the once all-powerful ruler of Iraq, we found
him hiding in a hole.
At the same time, we're helping Iraqis make daily progress toward democracy. A
year ago, Iraq's only law was the whim of one brutal man. Today our coalition is
working with the Iraqi Governing Council to draft a basic law with a bill of
rights. But we're now working with Iraqis in the United Nations to prepare for a
transition to full Iraqi sovereignty. As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the
enemies of freedom will do all in their power to spread violence and fear.
They're trying to shake the will of our country and our friends. But they don't
understand America. They don't understand the nature of our troops. This country
and our military will never be intimidated by a bunch of thugs and assassins.
It is the nature of terrorism that a few evil people can bring grief to many.
Here in the Fort Polk community, you have sent brave men and women to confront
this evil, and you have said farewell to some of your best. One of them was
Private First Class Rey David Cuervo, who was killed in Baghdad. Private Cuervo
was born in Mexico and is one of several non-citizens in the military who have
given their lives in the defense of America. At my direction, each of them has
been posthumously granted a title to which they have brought great honor:
Citizen of the United States. (Applause.)
Last month, PFC Cuervo was laid to rest under a marker with these words: "All
gave some, and some gave all." We do not take freedom for granted in America,
and we do not take for granted the courage of those who face the danger and do
the fighting. May God comfort the families of the lost. May He keep this nation
always grateful for their sacrifice.
All the men and women we have sent to Iraq and Afghanistan have given vital
service in the war on terror. By liberating these countries, we and our
coalition have delivered more than 50 million people from cruel oppression.
We've removed sources of violence and instability from the greater Middle East.
We've removed from power enemies of this country. We have made America more
We face a clear choice in the greater Middle East, either freedom will advance,
or that region will continue to export violence to the world. The work of
building democracies in nations that have endured decades of tyranny is hard.
It's hard work. It will require the kind of sustained commitment that won the
Cold War. We accept that duty. We accept that duty in our time because our cause
Even governments that did not join in the removal of Saddam's regime now
understand that democracy in Iraq must succeed. And that work will succeed,
because the appeal of freedom is universal. Freedom is not America's gift to the
world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and women in this world.
The will of this country is strong. The will of our coalition is strong. And
what we have begun, we will finish.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: