Remarks by President Bush on the Global War on Terror

Apr 20, 2007, 01:00 ET from White House Press Office

    WASHINGTON, April 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is a
 transcript of remarks by President Bush on the global war on terror:
     East Grand Rapids High School
     East Grand Rapids, Michigan
     1:02 P.M.  EDT
     THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I'm glad to be back in Grand
 Rapids. I appreciate the opportunity to address the World Affairs Council
 of Western Michigan. I was leaving the White House today, Laura said, where
 are you headed? I said, to the West Coast. (Laughter.) She said, make sure
 you take your suntan lotion. (Laughter.) I said, the West Coast of Michigan
 -- (laughter) -- and I'm glad to be with you.
     You can't help but think about Gerald Ford when you come to Grand
 Rapids, Michigan. You know, our country was blessed to have such a decent,
 honorable, kind, courageous leader in Gerald R. Ford, and we miss him a
 lot. (Applause.)
     I appreciate Dixie Anderson, who is the Executive Director of the World
 Affairs Council of Western Michigan. I thank Barbara Propes who is the
 President of the World Affairs Council of America. I want to thank Ping
 Liang, President, Board of Directors of the World Affairs Council of
 Western Michigan, and a fellow Yale Bulldog.
     I appreciate my friend, Ambassador Pete Secchia for joining us today.
 He was the Ambassador to Italy under 41. I appreciate Sara Shubel, who is
 the Superintendent of the East Grand Rapids Public Schools. Thank you very
 much for allowing me to come to this beautiful auditorium here in East
 Grand Rapids High School. I appreciate Jenny Fee, the Associate Principal,
 as well as Larry Fisher. My purpose of coming is to instruct, is to talk
 about the issues that our world is facing, particularly the issue of Iraq.
 And I appreciate the chance to come to this high school to do so.
     I thank Congressman Vern Ehlers, congressman from this district. I
 appreciate you being here, Vern, and thank you for joining me and
 Congressman Pete Hoekstra on Air Force One. It's probably quite convenient
 for you to fly from Washington on Air Force One. (Laughter.) Glad to
 provide the transportation. (Laughter.) Both these men are really honorable
 folks who serve Western Michigan well in Congress, and I want to thank you
 for your service. (Applause.)
     I thank the Michigan Attorney General, Michael Cox, for joining us.
 Mike, thanks for coming today. Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
 She heard this was a foreign policy speech. (Laughter.) I appreciate Cindy
 Bartman, City of East Grand Rapids; Mayor George Heartwell, City of Grand
     Rapids. Thank you all for serving. I appreciate your willingness to
 become public servants. One of the messages I hope that I can convey to the
 high school students who are here, no matter what your political beliefs
 may be, that it's important to serve. It's important to serve the community
 in which you live. And you can do so all kinds of ways. You can run for
 mayor at some point in time, or you can feed the hungry. But service is
 noble, and service is necessary. I see we've got some who wear the uniform
 of the United States military. In this day and age, that's the ultimate
 service, as far as I'm concerned, and I appreciate you volunteering.
     For more than a half century, the World Affairs Council of Western
 Michigan has been a forum for lively and important debate. I understand
 this council was set up in 1949. It's been an important forum for people to
 talk about the big questions facing our country. There is no bigger
 question than what course our nation should pursue in Iraq, and that's what
 I'm here to talk about.
     Three months ago, my administration completed an extensive review of
 that very question. I ordered major changes to our strategy in Iraq. And to
 lead this new strategy, I named General David Petraeus, an expert who wrote
 the Army's new manual on counterinsurgency warfare.
     This new strategy is fundamentally different from the previous
 strategy. It recognizes that our top priority must be to help Iraq's
 elected leaders secure their population, especially in Baghdad-- because
 Iraqis will not be able to make the political and economic progress they
 need until they have a basic measure of security. Iraq's leaders are
 committed to providing that security -- but at this point, they cannot do
 it on their own.
     And so I ordered American reinforcements to help Iraqis secure their
 population, to go after the terrorists and insurgents that are inciting
 sectarian violence, and to get their capital under control. As our troops
 take on this mission, they will continue to train and mentor the Iraqi
 security forces for the day they can take full responsibility for the
 security of their own country.
     General Petraeus has been carrying out this new strategy for just over
 two months. He reports that it will be later this year before we can judge
 the potential of success. Yet the first indicators are beginning to emerge
 -- and they show that so far, the operation is meeting expectations. There
 are still horrific attacks in Iraq, such as the bombings in Baghdad on
 Wednesday -- but the direction of the fight is beginning to shift.
     In the coming months, I'll deliver regular updates on our operations.
 Today, I want to share some details about how this effort is unfolding in
 three areas: Baghdad, Anbar province, and the outskirts of Baghdad where
 terrorists and extremists are making a stand.
     The most significant element of our new strategy is being carried out
 in Baghdad. Baghdad has been the site of most of the sectarian violence; it
 is the destination for most of our reinforcements. So far, three additional
 American brigades totaling about 12,000 troops have reached the Baghdad
 area; another brigade is in Kuwait preparing to deploy; and one more will
 arrive in Kuwait next month. The Iraqi government is also meeting its
 pledge to boost its force levels in the city. For every American combat
 soldier deployed to Baghdad, there are now about three Iraqi security
 forces -- giving us a combined total of nearly 80,000 combat forces in the
 Baghdad area.
     My point is, is that the American combat forces are not alone in the
 effort to secure the nation's capital. And just as important as the growing
 number of troops is their changing position in the city. I direct your
 attention to a map showing our troop presence around Baghdad late last
 year. This is how we were positioned. Most troops were at bases on the
 outskirts of the city. They would move into Baghdad to clear out
 neighborhoods during the day, and then they would return to their bases at
 night. The problem was
     that when our troops moved back to the bases, the extremists, the
 radicals, the killers moved back to the neighborhoods.
     And we're changing. Part of our strategy change, part of the new
 mission in Baghdad is for American troops to live and work side by side
 with Iraqi forces at small neighborhood posts called joint security
 stations. You can see from this map, there are now more than two dozen
 joint security stations located throughout Baghdad; more are planned. From
 these stations, Iraqi and American forces work together to clear out and
 then secure neighborhoods -- all aimed at providing security for the people
 of Baghdad. If a heavy fight breaks out, our forces will step in, and Iraqi
 forces learn valuable skills from American troops; they'll fight shoulder
 to shoulder with the finest military every assembled.
     By living in Baghdad neighborhoods, American forces get to know the
 culture and concerns of local residents. Equally important, the local
 residents get to know them. When Iraqi civilians see a large presence of
 professional soldiers and police patrolling their streets, they grow in
 confidence and trust. They become less likely to turn to militias for
 protection. People want security in their lives, and they tend to turn to
 the most apparently effective security force. And as people gain confidence
 in the ability of the Iraqi troops, along with the United States to provide
 security, they begin to cooperate. In fact, Iraqi and American forces have
 received more tips in the past three months than during any three-month
 period on record. These are tips provided by local citizens about where to
 find terrorists and insurgents.
     Most people -- the vast majority of people want to live in peace. Iraqi
 mothers want their children to grow up in peace. And if given the
 opportunity and given the confidence, civilians turn in the terrorists and
 extremists and murderers to help achieve that peace.
     This new approach to securing Baghdad brings risks. When I announced
 the new operation, I cautioned that more troops conducting more operations
 in more neighborhoods would likely to bring more casualties. Since the
 security operation began, we have seen some of the highest casualty levels
 of the war. And as the number of troops in Baghdad grows and operations
 move into even more dangerous neighborhoods, we can expect the pattern to
     We must also expect the terrorists and insurgents to continue mounting
 terrible attacks. Here is a photo of the destruction caused by a car bomb
 at a bus stop in Baghdad on Wednesday. The victims of this attack were
 innocent men and women, who were simply coming home from work. Yet this was
 hardly a random act of murder. It has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda
 attack. The terrorists bombed the buses at rush hour, with the specific
 intent to kill as many people as possible. This has been long a pattern of
 al Qaeda in Iraq; this is what they do. They carried out the spectacular
 attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. They bombed the
 Jordanian embassy in Iraq. They claimed credit for the bombing of the
 Golden Mosque of Samarra. Just last week, they sent a suicide bomber to
 attack the Iraqi parliament building.
     Al Qaeda believes that its best chance to achieve its objectives --
 which is to drive the United States out of Iraq and prevent the emergence
 of a free society in the Middle East, is to defeat the security operation
 by conducting spectacular attacks that provoke Iraqis into taking violence
 into their own hands -- and lead Americans to conclude that the sectarian
 killing will never be contained. This strategy is merciless, but it is not
 without logic. It's important for all Iraqis -- Sunnis and Shia alike -- to
 understand that al Qaeda is the greatest threat to peace in their country.
 And the question is whether we and the Iraqis will give in, and to respond
 the way al Qaeda wants. Because of the lessons of September the 11th, the
 answer is the United States government will not give in to what al Qaeda
 wants -- and the Iraqis must not give in to al Qaeda if they want to have a
 peaceful society.
     The nature of a strategy aimed at securing the population is that the
 most important gains are often the least dramatic. Day by day, block by
 block, Iraqi and American forces are making incremental gains in Baghdad.
 Thanks to more troops on the streets and more cooperation from residents,
 the average number of weapons stockpiles seized each week has jumped 50
 percent since the beginning of the new strategy. American and Iraqi forces
 tracked down and captured the leaders of a major car bomb ring. We found
 and cleared a warehouse where terrorists were storing chemicals to make
 weapons. We captured members of a death squad that had terrorized hundreds
 of residents in a Baghdad neighborhood. As a result, displaced families are
 beginning to return home. And the number of sectarian murders in Baghdad
 has dropped by half since the operation began.
     The results of the security operation are uneven across the city. In
 some areas, there have been sharp declines in sectarian killing -- while in
 other areas, the level of violence is still far too high. Yet even in
 volatile districts like Sadr City, our new approach is beginning to make a
 difference. A report last month in the Grand Rapids Press quoted an Iraqi
 resident of Sadr City. Perhaps you read it. If you didn't, here's what it
 said: "They thanked us" -- they're talking about our forces and Iraqi
 forces -- "They thanked us with respect and a smile." This resident said,
 "I'm happy that such a campaign is done in my neighborhood." People want
 security and they want to live in peace.
     Developments like these are not as spectacular as a terrorist bomb.
 When a family decides to stop depending on militias to protect them, or a
 young man rejects insurgency and joins the Iraqi army, it doesn't usually
 make the evening news. Yet small, individual choices like these are vital
 to the success of our campaign. They show that despite all the violence,
 the vast majority of Iraqis want security, they want to live in peace. I
 know I've said that more than once; it's important for our citizens to
 understand that people around the world are anxious for peace, and, yet,
 there are extremists and radicals and murderers who will do anything they
 can to prevent it from happening.
     The Iraqi security forces are growing in maturity and gaining trust,
 and that's important. Our men and women in uniform are showing great
 courage and skill, and that's important to the Iraqi people, as well.
     Another significant element of our new strategy is being carried out in
 Anbar province -- a largely Sunni area west of Baghdad. For much of the
 past four years, Anbar has been a hotbed for insurgents and al Qaeda
 terrorists. Remember, al Qaeda is Sunni in nature. According to a captured
 al Qaeda document, according to what al Qaeda has made clear, their goal is
 to take over the Anbar province and make it their home base for Iraq. That
 would bring them closer to their stated objective of taking down Iraq's
 democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and having safe haven from
 which to launch attacks on the United States citizens here at home or
 abroad. That is what al Qaeda has stated; that is their objective. And
 Anbar province is where they're trying to achieve their objective. Al Qaeda
 has pursued this goal through a ruthless campaign of violence -- and they
 grew in power. They were succeeding.
     And then something began to change. The people of Anbar began to
 realize their life was not the paradise al Qaeda promised -- as a matter of
 fact, it was a nightmare. So courageous tribal sheiks launched a movement
 called "The Awakening" and began cooperating with American and Iraqi
 forces. The sheiks and their followers knew exactly who the terrorists
 were, and they began providing highly specific intelligence. To help
 capitalize on this opportunity, I sent more troops into Anbar province.
 Alongside the Iraqi army and police, U.S. Marines and Special Operations
 Forces have been striking terrible blows against al Qaeda.
     The maps show the dramatic changes taking place in Ramadi, which
 happens to be the capital of Anbar province. The red-shaded areas in the
 first map show the concentration of al Qaeda terrorists in the city two
 months ago. The second map shows the concentration of the terrorists now.
 Their presence has declined substantially. Here is how one reporter
 described the changes: "A year ago, Ramadi's police force had virtually
 been wiped out, leaving only a couple dozen officers and a lawless city
 with nowhere to turn for help. Now, guerrilla fighters have begun to
 disappear, schools and shops have reopened, and civilians have begun
 walking [in] previously deserted streets."
     Anbar province is still not safe. Al Qaeda has responded to these
 changes with sickening brutality. They have bombed fellow Sunnis in prayer
 at a mosque, they send death squads into neighborhoods, they have recruited
 children as young as 12 years old to help carry out suicide attacks. But
 this time, local Sunnis are refusing to be intimidated. With the
 encouragement of their tribal leaders, they're stepping forward to protect
 their families and drive out the terrorists. They're stepping forward to
 prevent al Qaeda, the people who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001,
 from establishing safe haven in Anbar province. And I believe strongly it's
 in the interest of the United States of America to help them.
     General Petraeus said earlier this month: "In the latest recruiting
 effort, which used to draw minimal numbers of Iraqis willing to serve in
 the Iraqi army or the Iraqi police in Anbar province, there were over 2,000
 volunteers for the latest training." General Petraeus went on, "Frankly,
 it's a stunning development and reflects the frustration the Sunni Arab
 tribes have with what al Qaeda has done to them. It has really had a
 devastating effect." If given a chance, most people will reject extremists
 and radicals and murderers.
     The United States will help Sunni sheiks and will help their people. We
 will stay on the offense in Anbar province. We and the Iraqi government are
 carrying out our new strategy in Baghdad and Anbar, as well as the "Baghdad
 belts" -- these are areas on the outskirts of the capital that have been
 staging grounds for deadly attacks. I have discussed the capital city with
 you, I discussed a western province with you, and I'm now going to talk
 about the belts around the capital city of Iraq.
     We have moved an additional Stryker battalion to Diyala province, which
 is northeast of Baghdad, where our soldiers and Iraqi forces are conducting
 raids against al Qaeda and insurgents. We have sent reinforcements to
 Diwaniyah province -- Diwaniyah, a city of Diwaniyah, which is 80 miles
 south of Baghdad, where we're working with Iraqi forces to route out
 militia and Shia extremists.
     In these and other parts of the Baghdad belts, Iraqi and American
 forces are fighting to clear and hold territory that the enemies of a free
 society considered their own. They're fighting back. As a result, violence
 is increasing. And as our forces move deeper into the territory, the
 violence could increase even more. Yet these operations are having an
 important impact on this young democracy. They're keeping the pressure on
 the terrorists and insurgents who have fled Anbar and Baghdad. They're
 helping cut off the supply of weapons and fighters to violent groups inside
 the capital. They're showing Iraqi citizens across the country there will
 be no sanctuary for killers anywhere in a free Iraq.
     All of these military operations are designed to improve security for
 everyday folks. They're designed to reduce sectarian violence. And they're
 designed to open up breathing space for political progress by Iraq's
     It may seem like decades ago, but it wasn't all that long ago that 12
 million Iraqi citizens voted for a free and democratic future for their
 country. And the government they elected is in place -- it hasn't been in
 place a year yet -- and they're working hard to make progress on some key
     benchmarks; progress to help this country reconcile and unite after
 years of tyrannical and brutal rule.
     The Iraqi legislature passed a budget that commits $10 billion of their
 money for reconstruction projects -- and now the government must spend that
 money to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens. The Council of Ministers
 recently approved legislation that would provide a framework for an
 equitable sharing of oil resources -- and now that legislation needs to go
 before their parliament for approval. The government has formed a committee
 to organize provincial elections -- and the next step is to set a date for
 those elections to be held.
     Iraqi leaders are taking steps toward agreement on a de-Baathification
 law that will allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life --
 and they need to agree on that measure and send it to parliament. Prime
 Minister Maliki is working to build greater support from Iraq's neighbors
 and the international community. I just talked to him the other day on
 secure video -- I was in the White House and he was in Baghdad-- and we
 talked about this neighborhood conference, an opportunity to rally the
 international community to help support this young democracy's efforts to
 thrive and prosper. And at the conference in Egypt next month, he, along
 with Secretary Rice and other concerned leaders, will seek increased
 diplomatic and financial commitments for this country.
     Iraq's leaders have begun meeting their benchmarks -- and they've got a
 lot left to do. As more breathing space is created by reducing the
 sectarian violence, Iraq's leaders have got to take advantage of that
 breathing space. I have made it abundantly clear to the Prime Minister that
 our patience is not unlimited; that we fully recognize that there has to be
 political progress and economic progress, along with military progress, in
 order for that government to succeed. And it's up to the Iraqi people and
 the Iraq- elected folks to show America and the world they're ready to do
 the hard work necessary to reconcile and move forward.
     It's important to understand that Iraq's government is working hard in
 a difficult environment. The day after its building was bombed, the Iraqi
 parliament held a special session. Its speaker said the meeting sent, "a
 clear message to all the terrorists and all those who dare to try to stop
 this political process that we will sacrifice in order for it to continue."
 I found that to be a heartening statement; that here al Qaeda bombs their
 parliament and this man stands up and says, you're not going to scare us;
 we want to represent the will of the 12 million people who voted.
     You've just got to know my view of -- the vast majority of Iraqis are
 courageous people; they've endured brutality as a result of murderers
 trying to stop their new country from -- their new system of government
 from succeeding. And I'm impressed by their courage. And I believe this
 current government under Prime Minister Maliki is committed to building a
 strong democracy. That's my judgment, having talked to him. I've watched a
 man begun to grow in office. I first talked to him in June, when he was
 named the Prime Minister. I've talked to him consistently ever since. I
 look to see whether or not he has courage to make the difficult decisions
 necessary to achieve peace. I'm looking to see whether or not he has got
 the capacity to reach out and help unify this country.
     He says, you know, sometimes it's hard to get the parliament to do
 exactly what he thinks they ought to do. (Laughter.) I know what he means.
     As we increase troop levels, we're also increasing our civilian
 presence. We're doubling the number of what's called provincial
 reconstruction teams, which partner civilian experts with combat units to
 ensure that military operations are followed up with rapid economic
 assistance. These teams help local Iraqi leaders restore basic services and
 stimulate job creation and promote reconciliation. Their work highlights a
 sharp difference: The
     Iraqi and American governments want to rebuild communities and improve
 lives - - the extremists and terrorists want to destroy communities and
 take lives. And when ordinary Iraqis see this difference for themselves,
 they become more likely to stand with their elected leaders and help
 marginalize the extremists in this struggle.
     Here at home, a different kind of struggle is taking place -- and its
 outcome will have a direct impact on the front lines. Despite the initial
 signs of progress on the ground, despite the fact that many reinforcements
 have not even arrived, Democrat leadership of the Congress is pushing
 legislation that would undercut the strategy General David Petraeus has
 just started to pursue. They have passed bills in the House and Senate that
 would impose restrictions on our military commanders and mandate a
 precipitous withdrawal by an arbitrary date -- they say withdrawal
 regardless of the conditions on the ground. That approach makes for a vivid
 contrast with the attitude in Iraq. A prominent Middle East scholar
 recently visited Iraq, described the difference: "A traveler who moves
 between Baghdad and Washington is struck by the gloomy despair in
 Washington and the cautious sense of optimism in Baghdad."
     We have honest differences of opinion in Washington and around this
 country, and I appreciate those differences. The ability to debate
 differences openly and frequently is what makes America a great country.
 Our men and women in uniform should never be caught in the middle of these
 debates. It has now been 74 days since I sent to Congress a request for
 emergency funding that our troops urgently need. The leadership in Congress
 have spent those 74 days trying to substitute their judgment for the
 judgment of our generals -- without sending me legislation. And now, to
 cover ongoing Army operations, the Pentagon is being forced to transfer
 money from military personnel accounts.
     The delay in spending is beginning to affect the ability of the
 Pentagon to fund our troops and all our missions. On Wednesday, I met at
 the White House with Congressional leaders from both parties; it was a very
 cordial meeting. I think you would have been pleased at the tone of the
 meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House -- at least, I was. I urged
 the people around the table to put politics aside, and to send a bill that
 funds our troops without arbitrary deadlines, without wasteful spending,
 and without handcuffing our commanders.
     There is ample time to debate this war. We need to get the troops the
 money. When we debate the war on terror, it can be convenient to divide up
 the fight by location -- and so we hear about, "the war in Afghanistan,"
 and "the war in Iraq" [as] if they were something separate. This is a
 natural way to talk about a complicated subject -- I don't think it's
 accurate. Our enemies make no distinctions based on borders. They view the
 world as a giant battlefield, and will strike wherever they can. The
 killers who behead captives and order suicide bombings in Iraq are
 followers of the same radical ideology as those who destroy markets in
 Afghanistan; or they set off car bombs in Algeria, and blow up subway
 trains in London. The men who attacked Iraq's parliament last week swear
 allegiance to the same terrorist network as those who attacked America on
 September the 11th, 2001.
     The fight in Iraq has been long and is trying. It's a difficult period
 in our nation's history. I also say it's a consequential moment in our
 nation's history, as well. It's natural to wish there was an easy way out
 -- that we could just pack up and bring our troops home and be safe. Yet in
 Iraq, the easy road would be a road to disaster. If we were to leave Iraq
 before that government can defend itself, and be an ally in this war
 against extremists and radicals, and be able to deny safe haven from people
 who want to hurt the United States, the consequences for this country would
 be grave.
     There would be a security vacuum in Iraq. Extremists and radicals love
 vacuums in which to spread chaos. The world would see different factions of
 radicals, different groups of extremists competing for influence and power.
     The extremists who emerge from this battle would turn the country into
 a new radical regime in the Middle East. I told you they want to launch new
 attacks on America and they need safe haven from which to do so.
     Not every enemy we face in Iraq wants to attack us here at home, but
 many of them do. And I believe it's in the interest of this country to take
 those threats seriously. We don't have to imagine what might happen if a
 group of terrorists gained safe haven. We've learned that lesson, I hope.
 Precisely what happened in Afghanistan-- it's really important for our
 memories not to dim. At least it's important for my memory not to dim,
 because my most important job is to protect the American people. The lesson
 of 9/11 is that when you allow extremists and radicals and killers to find
 a sanctuary anywhere in the world, that can have deadly consequences on the
 streets of our own cities.
     What happens overseas matters here in the United States of America.
 It's one of the fundamental lessons of September the 11th, 2001.
     Those who advocate pulling out of Iraq claim they are proposing an
 alternative strategy to deal with the situation there. Withdrawal is not a
 strategy. Withdrawal would do nothing to prevent violence from spilling out
 across that country and plunging Iraq into chaos and anarchy. Withdrawal
 would do nothing to prevent al Qaeda from taking advantage of the chaos to
 seize control of a nation with some of the world's largest oil resources.
 Withdrawal would embolden these radicals and extremists. Withdrawal would
 do nothing to prevent al Qaeda from using Iraq as a base to overthrow other
 moderate countries. Withdrawal would do nothing to prevent Iran from
 exploiting the chaos in Iraq to destabilize the region, expand its radical
 influence, threaten Israel, and further its ambitions to obtain nuclear
     If anything, withdrawal would make each of these dangerous developments
 more likely. Withdrawal would embolden enemies and confirm their belief
 that America is weak and does not have the stomach to do what is necessary
 to lay the foundations for peace. Ultimately, withdrawal would increase the
 probability that American troops would have to return to Iraq-- and
 confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
     So no matter how frustrating the fight in Iraq can be, no matter how
 much we wish the war was over, the security of our country depends directly
 on the outcome of Iraq. The price of giving up there would be paid in
 American lives for years to come. I firmly believe that historians would
 look back on that decision to withdraw and say, what happened to them in
 the year 2007, how come they could not see the dangers to the United States
 of America.
     No one understands the stakes in Iraq more clearly than our troops.
 Every man and woman in our military volunteered for the job. They make us
 proud every day. Michael Evans is a Specialist from Sumner, Illinois. His
 unit is part of the new operation to secure Baghdad. He said, "It is a
 great feeling to know we're contributing to getting insurgents off the
 streets, so the people do not have to live in fear." He went on to say,
 "I'll be coming away from this knowing that I was doing something to help
 the American people -- so that what happened on 9/11 never happens again."
     I agree with him. Specialist Evans represents the greatness of our
 country: decent citizens volunteering to protect you. You know, for all we
 hear about the consequences of failure in Iraq, we should not forget the
 consequences of success in Iraq. Success in Iraq would bring something
 powerful and new -- a democracy at the heart of the Middle East, a nation
 that fights terrorists instead of harboring them, and a powerful example
 for others of the power of liberty to overcome an ideology of hate.
     We have done this kind of work in the United States of America before.
 I am -- you know, I marvel at the fact that on the one hand my dad joined
 the Navy at 18 to fight a sworn enemy, the Japanese, and on the other hand,
     son, some 55 years later, best friend and keeping the peace with the
 Prime Minister of Japan. I find that an amazing fact of history: 41 fights
 them, 43 works with them to lay the foundation for peace -- including
 working with Japan to deploy Japanese troops in Iraq. It's amazing to me.
 But it shows the power of liberty to transform enemies into allies.
     We have done the hard work before of helping young democracies. As a
 matter of fact, we did so after a brutal World War II in helping Germany
 and Japan get back on their feet and establish forms of government that
 yield peace. We did so after the Korean War. I suspect it would be hard to
 find anybody in 1953 to predict that an American President would one day be
 reporting to the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan that relations
 in the Far East are solid for the United States of America, and that that
 part of the world is relatively peaceful compared to other troubled parts
 of the world. In '53 they would have been thinking about all the lives lost
 in Japan or in Korea. In '53 they would have seen a communist China gaining
     And yet, in 2007, we've got a Korea that went through difficult times
 to get to the democracy she's now in and is now a major trading partner of
 the United States. We've got a China with an open marketplace, based upon
 the principles where consumers get to decide things, not the state. The
 political system has got a long way to go, but the marketplace is beginning
 to redefine that society. Or how about Japan, a place where we lost
 thousands of lives and, yet, now they're a partner in peace.
     America has done the hard work necessary to give liberty a chance to
 prevail. And it's in my opinion and in the opinion of people like
 Specialist Evans that we do so in the Middle East for the sake of peace for
 a young generation of Americans.
     Thank you. (Applause.)

SOURCE White House Press Office