THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Three days ago, in large numbers, Iraqis
went to the polls to choose their own leaders -- a landmark day in the
history of liberty. In the coming weeks, the ballots will be counted, a
new government formed, and a people who suffered in tyranny for so long
will become full members of the free world.
This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning
of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle
East. And this vote -- 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world --
means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against
All who had a part in this achievement -- Iraqis, and Americans and our
coalition partners -- can be proud. Yet our work is not done. There is
more testing and sacrifice before us. I know many Americans have questions
about the cost and direction of this war. So tonight I want to talk to you
about how far we have come in Iraq, and the path that lies ahead.
From this office, nearly three years ago, I announced the start of military
operations in Iraq. Our coalition confronted a regime that defied United
Nations Security Council resolutions, violated a cease-fire agreement,
sponsored terrorism, and possessed, we believed, weapons of mass
destruction. After the swift fall of Baghdad, we found mass graves filled
by a dictator; we found some capacity to restart programs to produce
weapons of mass destruction, but we did not find those weapons. [check Syria Mr President - Atlas]
It is true that Saddam Hussein had a history of pursuing and using weapons
of mass destruction. It is true that he systematically concealed those
programs, and blocked the work of U.N. weapons inspectors. It is true that
many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But
much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As your President, I am
responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. Yet it was right to remove
Saddam Hussein from power.
He was given an ultimatum -- and he made his choice for war. And the
result of that war was to rid a -- the world of a murderous dictator who
menaced his people, invaded his neighbors, and declared America to be his
enemy. Saddam Hussein, captured and jailed, is still the same raging
tyrant -- only now without a throne. His power to harm a single man,
woman, or child is gone forever. And the world is better for it.
Since the removal of Saddam, this war, like other wars in our history, has
been difficult. The mission of American troops in urban raids and desert
patrols, fighting Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists, has brought
danger and suffering and loss. This loss has caused sorrow for our whole
nation -- and it has led some to ask if we are creating more problems than
That is an important question, and the answer depends on your view of the
war on terror. If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only
America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them
This is not the threat I see. I see a global terrorist movement that
exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims -- a vision in
which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is
crushed. Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set
of declared and specific goals -- to de-moralize free nations, to drive us
out of the Middle East, to spread an empire of fear across that region, and
to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends. These terrorists
view the world as a giant battlefield -- and they seek to attack us
wherever they can. This has attracted al Qaeda to Iraq, where they are
attempting to frighten and intimidate America into a policy of retreat.
The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and
elsewhere, they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if
we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia, and
in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens, they would
be on the offense, and headed our way.
September the 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our
country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us
only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq, we were not
in Afghanistan, but the terrorists attacked us anyway -- and killed nearly
3,000 men, women, and children in our own country. My conviction comes
down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We
invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by
capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and
strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.
The work in Iraq has been especially difficult -- more difficult than we
expected. Reconstruction efforts and the training of Iraqi security forces
started more slowly than we hoped. We continue to see violence and
suffering, caused by an enemy that is determined and brutal, unconstrained
by conscience or the rules of war.
Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost, and
not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that. [me neither - Atlas] Our military
commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the
burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And
not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their own communications
that they feel a tightening noose, and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq.
The terrorists will continue to have the coward's power to plant roadside
bombs and recruit suicide bombers. And you will continue to see the grim
results on the evening news. This proves that the war is difficult -- it
doesn't mean that we are losing. Behind the images of chaos that
terrorists create for the cameras, we are making steady gains with a clear
objective in view.
America, our coalition, and Iraqi leaders are working toward the same goal
-- a democratic Iraq that can defend itself, that will never again be a
safe haven for terrorists, and that will serve as a model of freedom for
the Middle East.
We have put in place a strategy to achieve this goal -- a strategy I've
been discussing in detail over the last few weeks. This plan has three
First, our coalition will remain on the offense -- finding and clearing out
the enemy, transferring control of more territory to Iraqi units, and
building up the Iraqi security forces so they can increasingly lead the
fight. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi army and
police battalions ready for combat. Now, there are more than 125 Iraqi
combat battalions fighting the enemy, more than 50 are taking the lead, and
we have transferred more than a dozen military bases to Iraqi control.
Second, we're helping the Iraqi government establish the institutions of a
unified and lasting democracy, in which all of Iraq's people are included
and represented. Here also, the news is encouraging. Three days ago, more
than 10 million Iraqis went to the polls -- including many Sunni Iraqis who
had boycotted national elections last January. Iraqis of every background
are recognizing that democracy is the future of the country they love --
and they want their voices heard. One Iraqi, after dipping his finger in
the purple ink as he cast his ballot, stuck his finger in the air and said:
"This is a thorn in the eyes of the terrorists." Another voter was asked,
"Are you Sunni or Shia?" And he responded, "I am Iraqi."
Third, after a number of setbacks, our coalition is moving forward with a
reconstruction plan to revive Iraq's economy and infrastructure -- and to
give Iraqis confidence that a free life will be a better life. Today in
Iraq, seven in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going well, and nearly
two-thirds expect things to improve even more in the year ahead. Despite
the violence, Iraqis are optimistic -- and that optimism is justified.
In all three aspects of our strategy -- security, democracy, and
reconstruction -- we have learned from our experiences, and fixed what has
not worked. We will continue to listen to honest criticism, and make every
change that will help us complete the mission.
Yet there is a difference
between honest critics who recognize what is wrong, and defeatists who
refuse to see that anything is right.
Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified by the facts.
For every scene of destruction in Iraq, there are more scenes of
rebuilding and hope. For every life lost, there are countless more lives
reclaimed. And for every terrorist working to stop freedom in Iraq, there
are many more Iraqis and Americans working to defeat them. My fellow
citizens: Not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in
It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of
pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi
friends and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its
word. We would undermine the morale of our troops by betraying the cause
for which they have sacrificed. We would cause the tyrants in the Middle
East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip. We
would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us and the
global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever
before. To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and
dishonor, and I will not allow it.
[Damn! I love that man -Atlas]
We're approaching a new year, and there are certain things all Americans
can expect to see. We will see more sacrifice -- from our military, their
families, and the Iraqi people. We will see a concerted effort to improve
Iraqi police forces and fight corruption. We will see the Iraqi military
gaining strength and confidence, and the democratic process moving forward.
As these achievements come, it should require fewer American troops to
accomplish our mission. I will make decisions on troop levels based on the
progress we see on the ground and the advice of our military leaders -- not
based on artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington. Our
forces in Iraq are on the road to victory -- and that is the road that will
take them home.
In the months ahead, all Americans will have a part in the success of this
war. Members of Congress will need to provide resources for our military.
Our men and women in uniform, who have done so much already, will continue
their brave and urgent work. And tonight, I ask all of you listening to
carefully consider the stakes of this war, to realize how far we have come
and the good we are doing, and to have patience in this difficult, noble,
and necessary cause.
I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to
send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply
it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country --
victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or
political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I
don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request:
Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.
Americans can expect some things of me, as well. My most solemn
responsibility is to protect our nation, and that requires me to make some
tough decisions. I see the consequences of those decisions when I meet
wounded servicemen and women who cannot leave their hospital beds, but
summon the strength to look me in the eye and say they would do it all over
again. I see the consequences when I talk to parents who miss a child so
much -- but tell me he loved being a soldier, he believed in his mission,
and, Mr. President, finish the job.
I know that some of my decisions have led to terrible loss -- and not one
of those decisions has been taken lightly. [not near the loss had you not taken those actions Mr. President - Atlas] I know this war is
controversial -- yet being your President requires doing what I believe is
right and accepting the consequences. And I have never been more certain
that America's actions in Iraq are essential to the security of our
citizens, and will lay the foundation of peace for our children and
Next week, Americans will gather to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. Many
families will be praying for loved ones spending this season far from home
-- in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other dangerous places. Our nation joins in
those prayers. We pray for the safety and strength of our troops. We
trust, with them, in a love that conquers all fear, in a light that reaches
the darkest corners of the Earth. And we remember the words of the
Christmas carol, written during the Civil War: "God is not dead, nor [does]
He sleep; the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on Earth,
goodwill to men."
Thank you, and good night. [no no thank you, on behalf of myself, my four little Atlases, my leftarded countrymen and my fellow warriors, thank you Mr. President - Atlas]
The lefties cry no matter what. The President is doing a helluva job making
sure they are free to whine, cry, commit treason, and undermine the
More pearls from those geniuses here
UPDATE December 19th: The blogosphere weighs in on the President's Speech at Pajama Media here
Bush Crippled by Agency 'Fratricide'