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IRAQ EXIT STRATEGY 2005

Archive: 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | early 2006 | late 2006 | early 2007

A living history of the Iraq war's exit strategy

What is the exit strategy from the war in Iraq?

It depends on whom you ask, and when.

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W. Bush, April 9, 1999.

Disclaimer: Some of these transcripts may not be exactly accurate. I have discovered that the White House often 'cleans up' what Mr. Bush actually says to make it more presentable and presidential, removing the 'umm's, 'uhh's, and 'you-know's.

Updated May 02, 2007


The United States has a vital interest in the success of a free Iraq, so in the year ahead, we will continue to pursue the comprehensive strategy for victory that I have discussed with you in recent weeks. This strategy has security, political, and economic elements. First, our coalition is staying on the offense, finding and clearing the enemy out of Iraqi cities, towns, and villages, transferring more control to Iraqi units, and building up the Iraqi security forces so they can increasingly lead the fight to secure their country. Second, we are helping Iraqis build the political institutions of an inclusive, unified, and lasting democracy. And third, our coalition is overcoming earlier setbacks and moving forward with a reconstruction plan to rebuild Iraq's economy and infrastructure. As we help Iraq build a peaceful and stable democracy, the United States will gain an ally in the war on terror, inspire reformers across the Middle East, and make the American people more secure.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, December 31, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051231.html


Rumsfeld: Bush OKs cutting number of Iraq troops
Gunmen kill Iraqi police; 3 women abducted

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- President Bush has authorized a reduction in U.S. combat troops in Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Friday during a town hall meeting at Camp Falluja, Iraq.

"At the recommendation of our military commanders and in consultation with our coalition partners and with the Iraqi Government, President Bush has authorized an adjustment in U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 17 to 15," Rumsfeld told 400 to 500 U.S. troops.

The adjustments will reduce forces in Iraq below the baseline level of 138,000 -- which has provided the guideline for most of the year -- by spring of 2006, as well as below the high of 160,000 troops as Iraqi elections approached, Rumsfeld said. The exact amount of the reduction was not given, and Rumsfeld said details would be provided later by the Pentagon.

Further reductions will be considered next year when Iraq's new government is in place and prepared to discuss the future, he said.

- CNN, December 23, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/12/23/iraq.main/index.html

2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


THE PRESIDENT:  ...Last night I addressed the nation about our strategy for victory in Iraq, and the historic elections that took place in the country last week. In a nation that once lived by the whims of a brutal dictator, the Iraqi people now enjoy constitutionally protected freedoms, and their leaders now derive their powers from the consent of the government. Millions of Iraqis are looking forward to a future with hope and optimism.

The Iraqi people still face many challenges. This is the first time the Iraqis are forming a government under their new constitution. The Iraqi constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the parliament for certain top officials. So the formation of the new government will take time as Iraqis work to build consensus. And once the new Iraqi government assumes office, Iraq's new leaders will face many important decisions on issues such as security and reconstruction, economic reform and national unity. The work ahead will require the patience of the Iraqi people and the patience and support of America and our coalition partners.

As I said last night, this election does not mean the end of violence, but it is the beginning of something new: a constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And we will keep working toward our goal of a democratic Iraq that can govern and self-sustain itself and defend itself.

...

Q Thank you, sir. Looking ahead to this time next year, what are the top three or top five -- take your pick -- accomplishments that you hope to have achieved? And in particular, what is your best-case scenario for troop levels in Iraq at this time next year?

THE PRESIDENT:  This is kind of like -- this is the ultimate benchmark question. You're trying to not only get me to give benchmarks in Iraq, but also benchmarks domestically.

...

You see, I hope by now you've discovered something about me, that when I say we're not going to have artificial timetables of withdrawal, and/or try to get me out on a limb on what the troop levels will look like -- the answer to your question on troop levels is, it's conditions-based. We have an objective in Iraq, and as we meet those objectives, our commanders on the ground will determine the size of the troop levels.

Nice try. End of your try.

...

Q Mr. President, you said last night that there were only two options in Iraq -- withdraw or victory. And you asked Americans, especially opponents of the war, to reject partisan politics. Do you really expect congressional Democrats to end their partisan warfare and embrace your war strategy? And what can you do about that to make that happen?

THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I said that victory in Iraq is much larger than a person, a President, or a political party. And I've had some good visits with Senate and House Democrats about the way forward. They share the same concerns I share. You know, they want our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible, but they don't want to do so without achieving a victory. These are good, solid Americans that agree that we must win for the sake of our security. And I'm interested in, Joe, their ideas, and will continue to listen carefully to their ideas.

On the other hand, there are some in this country that believe, strongly believe that we ought to get out now. And I just don't agree with them. It's a wrong strategy, and I'd like to tell you again why. One, it would dishearten the Iraqis. The Iraqis are making a great -- showing great courage to setting up a democracy. And a democracy in Iraq -- I know I've said this, and I'm going to keep saying it because I want the American people to understand -- a democracy in Iraq is vital in the long run to defeating terrorism. And the reason why is, is because democracy is hopeful and optimistic.

Secondly, it sends the wrong signal to our troops. We've got young men and women over their sacrificing. And all of a sudden, because of politics or some focus group or some poll, they stand up and say, we're out of there. I can't think of anything more dispiriting to a kid risking his or her life than to see decisions made based upon politics.

Thirdly, it sends the wrong signal to the enemy. It just says, wait them out; they're soft, they don't have the courage to complete the mission -- all we've got to do is continue to kill and get these images on the TV screens, and the Americans will leave. And all that will do is embolden these people. Now, I recognize there is a debate in the country, and I fully understand that, about the nature of the enemy. I hear people say, because we took action in Iraq, we stirred them up, they're dangerous. No, they were dangerous before we went into Iraq. That's what the American people have got to understand. That's why I took the decision I took on the NSA decision, because I understand how dangerous they are. And they want to hit us again.

- George W. Bush, Press Conference of the President, December 19, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051219-2.html


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 we're solving.

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 alone.

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. 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 critical elements.

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 Iraq.

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.

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. 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 grandchildren.

- George W. Bush, President's Address to the Nation, December 18, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051218-2.html


PRESIDENT BUSH: ... And, you know, I think if we have a policy of zero violence, it won't be met, but the policy of getting the Iraqis in the fight and marginalizing those who are trying to stir up trouble will be effective. And the definition of victory which is really an important thing for the American people to understand is that we have an ally in the war on terror, that democracy is able to sustain itself and defend itself, and the Iraqi people feel that the security forces that we've trained up are capable of defending themselves against the violent.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. President, does that go counter to most definitions of victory in a war?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes.

JIM LEHRER: I mean, the violence goes on but that we have victory anyhow?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think that this is a different kind of a war. I mean, in World War II we think of the USS Missouri and Japan-- We surrender. However, if you think about World War II, there was still a mission to be accomplished, that Harry Truman saw through, which is to help an enemy become a democracy. We achieved a, by kicking Saddam Hussein out, you know, a milestone. But there's still work to help this country develop its own democracy and there's no question there's difficulties because of the past history and the fact that he starved an infrastructure and the reconstruction efforts have been uneven.

But victory is, against a guy like Zarqawi, is bringing him to justice. Victory is denying safe haven to al-Qaida, and victory is marginalizing those who would destroy democracy.

...

JIM LEHRER: Well, what would you say, then, Mr. President, if somebody would say, well, wait a minute, are you suggesting that the United States is going to have to stay in Iraq for years and years and years while this kind of mild form of insurgency, violence, continues?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, not at all. As I said, that one of our objectives is to train the Iraqi security forces and police, so they can take the fight. As the political process marginalizes people, now one of our prime-- and I've also said, by the way, as the Iraqi forces become more capable, and they are becoming more capable, that we'll be able to focus more on training and more on hunting down high-value targets like Zarqawi, and that's a very important part of the strategy, Jim.

We cannot allow Iraq to become a safe haven for al-Qaida.

Let me make another point for you, if you don't mind, on security forces, while we're on them.

We have made good progress on the security forces. Witness the fact that more Iraqis are in the lead on operations, more territory is controlled by the Iraqis. However, as General Casey said, we're behind when it comes to training the police forces or helping train police forces, and one a the real challenges is to make sure that the police force does not become a haven for militia, so that political people can use police forces to seek retribution in society.

JIM LEHRER: Is there any connection between what happened yesterday and the beginning of drawing down U.S. forces from Iraq?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, there will be a draw-down from the force level that we are now at, primarily because we kept 30,000 people, more or less there in order to effect the elections, and so we will be drawing down, as planned, as announced prior to the election.

JIM LEHRER: Excuse me. That's 160,000 there now... then go to 137,000.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah.

JIM LEHRER: And then--then what?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, that's going to be up to General Casey, to make those recommendations.

JIM LEHRER: Have you sat down with anybody and said can you project, in some way, what--

PRESIDENT BUSH: Not really.

JIM LEHRER: --how long it's going--when we can really take our troops down further? I don't mean a timetable, necessarily, but just a ball park.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think there's a general feeling that these Iraqis are-- you know, the way I tried to put it, in a way that American people can understand it, is as they stand up we stand down and I think there's a general feeling from our advisers-- military commanders on the ground and the advisors in the Pentagon, that they're more and more standing up. And that's measurable, not just in numbers of soldiers, but measurable in the amount a territory that they now control, as well as the-- how they, how they perform. By the way, as more Iraqis take the lead in the fight and control more territory, it means less coalition and less U.S. patrols, less U.S. presence, and more ability to focus on two specific missions, which is training, which will require less troops, as well as using our best forces and special forces to find the al-Qaidas.

JIM LEHRER: Just in general terms, Mr. President, how major a priority is getting U.S. troops out of there--

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well--

JIM LEHRER: --to you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah. It's, it's--the biggest priority is winning.

JIM LEHRER: Right; okay.

PRESIDENT BUSH: And see, the problem, Jim, earlier in the year, was that I think a lotta people might a begun to feel like the biggest priority was to get out, and that--

JIM LEHRER: Those are not related, in your opinion?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think-- but you see, if you say the priority is getting the troops out, it really sends the wrong message to the troops, the Iraqis and the enemy.  And I can understand people wanting to get the troops out. On the other hand, but if you don't put that in a context of achieving objectives. In other words, wars are fought on objectives, not on timetable, and that's why I've been so insistent upon not allowing ourselves to have policy driven by time table, but by objective. So victory means troops are coming out, but troops are coming out may not mean victory. And so that's why I'm making the case to the American people that our strategy there is to achieve a victory.

JIM LEHRER: The war has now been going on 2-1/2 years. This week in fact the one-thousandth day went by, and more than 2,100 Americans have died.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, sir.

JIM LEHRER: When you made the decision to go to war, did you expect this kind of casualty rate?

PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, I knew there would be casualties. I never tried to guess.

JIM LEHRER: Did you ask General Franks or Secretary Rumsfeld, what's the risk here, what's the casualty possibility?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think everybody understood the risks, Jim. I'll never forget making the decision in the Situation Room, and it affected me. I mean, it was-- I got up out of the chair and walked around the South Lawn there and I thought, you know, I knew the decision I had just made, a decision, by the way, that I had been wrestling with for months, was the right decision in my judgment, or obviously I wouldn't have made it, but also one that would have consequences for Americans and families and members of the soldiers who died.

We run a danger of trying to say the casualties are less than other wars or more than expected. It's just everybody matters, every person matters, and what really matters is having the strategy and the will to make sure any death is not-- is honored by achieving an objective.

- George W. Bush, PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, December 16, 2005

source:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/july-dec05/bush_12-16-05.html

Copyright 2005 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions


BLOCK: There are also a large number of Iraqis, a majority I think, who would like to see U.S. troops out very quickly.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well of course, so would the majority of Americans. So would I. I don't know what you think about it, but the goal is not to stay over there. There are a bunch of people running around telling lies and saying oh, my goodness, they're there to get their oil, or they're there to stay there forever and occupy the country. That's utter nonsense.  The United States went in there to do what we did, to replace that regime, and to turn that country back over to the Iraqi people, and that's what's going to happen. That's what the Iraqis want, that's what the Americans want, and that's what's going to happen, and that country is going to be vastly better off for it.

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Interview with Melissa Block, NPR, December 16, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051216-12175.html


In the war on terror, Iraq is now the central front -- and over the last few weeks, I've been discussing our political, economic, and military strategy for victory in that country. A historic election will take place tomorrow in Iraq. And as millions of Iraqis prepare to cast their ballots, I want to talk today about why we went into Iraq, why we stayed in Iraq, and why we cannot -- and will not -- leave Iraq until victory is achieved.

...

The stakes in Iraq are high, and we will not leave until victory has been achieved.

...

... And now the terrorists think they can make America run in Iraq. There's only one way the terrorists can prevail: if we lose our nerve and leave before the job is done. And that is not going to happen on my watch.

Some in Washington are calling for a rapid and complete withdrawal of our forces in Iraq. They say that our presence there is the cause for instability in Iraq, and that the answer is to set a deadline to withdraw. I disagree. I've listened carefully to all the arguments, and there are four reasons why I believe that setting an artificial deadline would be a recipe for disaster.

First, setting an artificial deadline would send the wrong message to the Iraqis. As Iraqis are risking their lives for democracy, it would tell them that America is more interested in leaving than helping them succeed, put at risk all the democratic progress they have made over the past year.

Secondly, setting an artificial deadline would send the wrong message to the enemy. It would tell them that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run. It would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder. It would embolden the terrorists and invite new attacks on America.

Third, setting an artificial deadline would send the wrong message to the region and the world. It would tell our friends and supporters that America is a weak and unreliable ally, and that when the going gets tough, America will retreat.

Finally, setting an artificial deadline would send the wrong message to the most important audience -- our troops on the front line. It would tell them that America is abandoning the mission they are risking their lives to achieve, and that the sacrifice of their comrades killed in this struggle has been in vain. I make this pledge to the families of the fallen: We will carry on the fight, we will complete their mission, and we will win.

Victory will be achieved by meeting certain clear objectives: when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can protect their own people, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot attacks against our country. These objectives, not timetables set by politicians in Washington, will drive our force levels in Iraq. As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when victory is achieved, our troops will then come home, with the honor they have earned.

One of the blessings of our free society is that we can debate these issues openly, even in a time of war. Most of the debate has been a credit to our democracy, but some have launched irresponsible charges. They say that we act because of oil, that we act in Iraq because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. Some of the most irresponsible comments about manipulating intelligence have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence we saw, and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These charges are pure politics. They hurt the morale of our troops. Whatever our differences in Washington, our men and women in uniform deserve to know that once our politicians vote to send them into harm's way, our support will be with them in good days and bad, and we will settle for nothing less than complete victory.

Before this victory comes, we still have a lot of difficult work ahead. We've made real progress in the last two and a half years, and the terrorists see this progress and they're determined to stop it. These enemies are not going to give up because of a successful election. They know that as democracy takes root in Iraq, their hateful ideology will suffer a devastating blow. So we can expect violence to continue.

We can also expect that the elections will be followed by days of uncertainty. We may not know for certain who's won the elections until the early part of January -- and that's important for our citizens to understand. It's going to take a while. It's also going to take a while for them to form a government. The work ahead will require patience of the Iraqi people, and require our patience, as well. Yet we must remember that a free Iraq is in our interests, because a free Iraq will be a beacon of hope. And as the Middle East grows in liberty, the American people will become safer and our nation will be more secure.

The work ahead will also require continued sacrifice. Yet we can be confident, because history has shown the power of freedom to overcome tyranny. And we can be confident because we have on our side the greatest force for freedom in human history: the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

...

In our fight to keep America free, we'll never quit. We've lost wonderful Americans like Ryan McGlothlin. We cherish the memory of each one. We pray the loved ones -- pray for the loved ones they've left behind, and we count it a privilege to be citizens of a country they served. We also honor them by acknowledging that their sacrifice has brought us to this moment: the birth of a free and sovereign Iraqi nation that will be a friend of the United States, and a force for good in a troubled region of the world.

The story of freedom has just begun in the Middle East. And when the history of these days is written, it will tell how America once again defended its own freedom by using liberty to transform nations from bitter foes to strong allies. And history will say that this generation, like generations before, laid the foundation of peace for generations to come.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses Iraqi Elections, Victory in the War on Terror, December 14, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051214-1.html


This is an enemy without conscience, and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be leading quiet lives as good citizens. They would be plotting and killing our citizens, across the world and here at home. By fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are confronting a direct threat to the American people, and we will accept nothing less than complete victory.

We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq. Our goal is victory, and victory will be achieved 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 against our nation.

Our strategy in Iraq has three elements: On the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis restore their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. On the security side, coalition and Iraqi forces are on the offense against the enemy. We're working together to clear out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, and leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy. And as we help Iraqis fight these enemies, we are 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 foreign assistance.

We're making steady progress. The Iraqi forces are becoming more and more capable. They're taking more responsibility for more and more territory. We're transferring bases to their control so they can take the fight to the enemy. And that means American and coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis, and hunting down the high-value targets like the terrorist Zarqawi and his associates.

Today, I want to discuss the political element of our strategy: our efforts to help the Iraqis build inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all the Iraqi people. By helping Iraqis to build a democracy, we will win over those who doubted they had a place in a new Iraq, and undermine the terrorists and Saddamists. By helping Iraqis to build a democracy, we will gain an ally in the war on terror. By helping Iraqis build a democracy, we will inspire reformers across the Middle East. And by helping Iraqis build a democracy, we will bring hope to a troubled region, and this will make the American people more secure.

From the outset, the political element of our strategy in Iraq has been guided by a clear principle: Democracy takes different forms in different cultures. Yet in all cultures, successful free societies are built on certain common foundations -- rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, a free economy, and freedom to worship. Respect for the belief of others is the only way to build a society where compassion and tolerance prevail. Societies that lay these foundations not only survive, but thrive. Societies that do not lay these foundations risk backsliding into tyranny.

When our coalition arrived in Iraq, we found a nation where almost none of these basic foundations existed. Decades of brutal rule by Saddam Hussein had destroyed the fabric of Iraqi civil society. Under Saddam, Iraq was a country where dissent was crushed. A centralized economy enriched a dictator instead of the people; secret courts meted out repression instead of justice; and Shia Muslims, and Kurds and other groups were brutally oppressed. And when Saddam Hussein's regime fled Baghdad, they left behind a country with few civic institutions in place to hold Iraq society together.

To fill the vacuum after liberation, we established the Coalition Provisional Authority. The CPA was ably led by Ambassador Jerry Bremer, and many fine officials from our government volunteered to serve in the EPA -- CPA. While things did not always go as planned, these men and women did a good job under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances -- helping to restore basic services, making sure food was distributed, and reestablishing government ministries.

One of the CPA's most important tasks was bringing the Iraqi people into the decision-making process of their government after decades of tyrannical rule. Three months after liberation, our coalition worked with the United Nations and Iraqi leaders to establish an Iraqi Governing Council. The Governing Council gave Iraqis a voice in their own affairs, but it was unelected. It was subordinate to the CPA and, therefore, it did not satisfy the hunger of Iraqis for self-government. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis wanted to be governed by leaders they had elected, not foreign officials.

So in the summer of 2003, we proposed a plan to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people. Under this plan, the CPA would continue to govern Iraq while appointed Iraqi leaders drafted a constitution, put that constitution before the people, and then held elections to choose a new government. Only when that elected government took office would the Iraqis regain their sovereignty.

This plan met with the disapproval of the Iraqis. They made it clear that they wanted a constitution that was written by elected leaders of a free Iraq, and they wanted sovereignty placed in Iraqi hands sooner. We listened, and we adjusted our approach. In November of 2003, we negotiated a new plan with the Governing Council, with steps for an accelerated transition to Iraqi self-government. Under this new plan, a Transitional Administrative Law was written by the Governing Council and adopted in March of 2004. This law guaranteed personal freedoms unprecedented in the Arab world, and set forth four major milestones to guide Iraq's transition to a constitutional democracy.

The first milestone was the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government by the end of June 2004. The second was for Iraqis to hold free elections to choose a transitional government by January of 2005. The third was for Iraqis to adopt a democratic constitution, which would be drafted no later than August 2005, and put before the Iraqi people in a nationwide referendum no later than October. And the fourth was for Iraqis to choose a government under that democratic constitution, with elections held December 2005.

The first milestone was met when our coalition handed over sovereignty to the Iraqi leaders on June 28th, 2004 -- two days ahead of schedule. In January 2005, Iraqis met the second milestone when they went to the polls and chose their leaders in free elections. Almost eight-and-a-half million Iraqis defied the car bombers and assassins to cast their ballots, and the world watched in awe as jubilant Iraqis danced in the street and held ink-stained fingers and celebrated their freedom.

The January elections were a watershed event for Iraq and the Middle East, yet they were not without flaws. One problem was the failure of the vast majority of Sunni Arabs to vote. When Sunnis saw a new 275-member parliament taking power in which they had only 16 seats, many realized that their failure to participate in the democrat process had hurt their chances and hurt their groups -- it hurt their constituencies. And Shia and Kurdish leaders who had won power at the polls saw that for a free and unified Iraq to succeed, they needed Sunni Arabs to be part of the government. We encouraged Iraq's leaders to reach out to Sunni leaders, and bring them into the governing process. When the transitional government was seated in the spring of this year, Sunni Arabs filled important posts, including a vice president, a minister of defense, and the speaker of the National Assembly.

The new government's main political challenge -- next political challenge was to meet the third milestone, which was adopting a democratic constitution. Again, Iraq's leaders reached out to Sunni Arabs who had boycotted the elections and included them in the drafting process. Fifteen Sunni Arab negotiators and several Sunni Arab advisors joined the work of the constitutional drafting committee. After much tough debate, representatives of Iraq's diverse communities drafted a bold constitution that guarantees the rule of law, freedom of assembly, property rights, freedom of speech and the press, women's rights, and the right to vote. As one Arab scholar put it, the Iraqi constitution marks "the dawn of a new age in Arab life."

The document that initially emerged from the committee did not unify Iraqis, and many Sunnis on the constitutional committee did not support the draft. Yet Iraq's leaders continued working to gain Sunni support. And thanks to last-minute changes -- including a new procedure for considering amendments to the constitution next year -- a deal was struck four days before the Iraqis went to the polls. The revised constitution was endorsed by Iraq''s largest Sunni party. It was approved in referendum that attracted over a million more voters than in the January elections. Many Sunnis voted against the constitution, but Sunnis voted in large numbers for the first time. They joined the political process. And by doing so, they reject the violence of the Saddamists and rejectionists. Through hard work and compromise, Iraqis adopted the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world.

On Thursday, Iraqis will meet their fourth milestone. And when they do go to the polls and choose a new government under the new constitution, it will be a remarkable event in the Arab world. Despite terrorist violence, the country is buzzing with signs and sounds of democracy in action. The streets of Baghdad, and Najaf and Mosul, and other cities are full of signs and posters. The television and radio air waves are thick with political ads and commentary. Hundreds of parties and coalitions have registered for this week's elections, and they're campaigning vigorously. Candidates are holding rallies and laying out their agendas and asking for the vote.

Our troops see this young democracy up close. First Lieutenant Frank Shriley of Rock Hall, Maryland, says, "It's a cool thing riding around Baghdad and seeing the posters -- it reminds me of being home during election time. After so many years of being told what to do, having a real vote is different."

Unlike the January elections, many Sunnis are campaigning vigorously for office this time around. Many Sunni parties that opposed the constitution have registered to compete in this week's vote. Two major Sunni coalitions have formed, and other Sunni leaders have joined national coalitions that cross religious, ethnic, and sectarian boundaries. As one Sunni politician put it, this election "is a vote for Iraq; we want a national Iraq, not a sectarian one."

To encourage broader participation by all Iraqi communities, the National Assembly made important changes in Iraq's electoral laws that will increase Sunni representation in the new assembly. In the January elections, Iraq was one giant electoral district, so seats in the transitional assembly simply reflected turnout. Because few Sunnis voted, their communities were left with little representation. Now, Iraq has a new electoral system, where seats in the new Council of Representatives will be allocated by province and population -- much like our own House of Representatives. This new system is encouraging more Sunnis to join in the democratic process because it ensures that Sunnis will be well-represented, even if the terrorists and Saddamists try to intimidate voters in the provinces where most Sunnis live.

More Sunnis are involved because they see Iraqi democracy succeeding. They have learned a lesson of democracy: They must participate to have a voice in their nation's affairs. A leading Sunni who had boycotted the January vote put it this way: "The Sunnis are now ready to participate." A Sunni sheik explains why Sunnis must join the process: "In order not to be marginalized, we need power in the National Assembly." As more Sunnis join the political process, the Saddamists and remaining rejectionists will be marginalized. As more Sunnis join the political process, they will protect the interests of their community.

Like the Shia and Kurds, who face daily attacks from the terrorists and Saddamists, many Sunnis who join the political process are being targeted by the enemies of a free Iraq. The Iraqi Islamic Party -- a Sunni party that boycotted the January vote and now supports elections -- has seen its offices bombed. And a party leader reports that at least 10 members have been killed since the party announced it would field candidates in Thursday's elections. Recently a top Sunni electoral official visited the Sunni stronghold of Baquba. He went to encourage local leaders to participate in the elections. During his visit, a roadside bomb went off. It rattled his convoy, but it didn't stop it. He says this about the attempt on his life: "The bomb is nothing [compared to] what we're doing. What we're doing is bigger than the bomb."

By pressing forward and meeting their milestones, the Iraqi people have built momentum for freedom and democracy. They've encouraged those outside the process to come in. At every stage, there was enormous pressure to let the deadlines slide, with skeptics and pessimists declaring that Iraqis were not ready for self-government. At every stage, Iraqis proved the skeptics and pessimists wrong. At every stage, Iraqis have exposed the errors of those in our country and across the world who question the universal appeal of liberty. By meeting their milestones, Iraqis are defeating a brutal enemy, rejecting a murderous ideology, and choosing freedom over terror.

This week elections won't be perfect, and a successful vote is not the end of the process. Iraqis still have more difficult work ahead, and our coalition and the new Iraqi government will face many challenges, including in four critical errors -- areas: ensuring Iraqi security, forming an inclusive Iraqi government, encouraging Iraqi reconciliation, and maintaining Iraqi democracy in a tough neighborhood.

The first key challenge is security. As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the terrorists and Saddamists will continue to use violence. They will try to break our will and intimidate the Iraqi people and their leaders. These enemies aren't going to give up because of a successful election. They understand what is at stake in Iraq. They know that as democracy takes root in that country, their hateful ideology will suffer a devastating blow, and the Middle East will have a clear example of freedom and prosperity and hope.

So our coalition will continue to hunt down the terrorists and Saddamists. We'll continue training Iraqi security forces to take the lead in the fight, and defend their new democracy. As the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down. And when victory is achieved, our troops will then return home with the honor they have earned.

The second key challenge is forming an inclusive government that protects the interests of all Iraqis, and encourages more in the rejectionist camp to abandon violence and embrace politics. Early next year, Iraq's new parliament will come to Baghdad and select a prime minister, and a presidency council, and a cabinet of ministers. Two-thirds of the new parliament must agree on the top leadership posts, and this will demand negotiation and compromise. It will require patience by America and our coalition allies. This new government will face many tough decisions on issues such as security and reconstruction and economic reform. Iraqi leaders will also have to review and possibly amend the constitution and ensure that this historic document earns the broad support of all Iraqi communities. By taking these steps, Iraqi leaders will build a strong and lasting democracy. This is an important step in helping to defeat the terrorists and the Saddamists.

The third key challenge is establishing rule of law and the culture of reconciliation. Iraqis still have to overcome longstanding ethnic and religious tensions, and the legacy of three decades of dictatorship. During the regime of Saddam Hussein, Shia, Kurds and other groups were brutally oppressed, and for some there is now a temptation to take justice into their own hands. Recently, U.S. and Iraqi troops have discovered prisons in Iraq where mostly Sunni men were held, some of whom have appeared to have been beaten and tortured. This conduct is unacceptable, and the Prime Minister and other Iraqi officials have condemned these abuses, an investigation has been launched, and we support these efforts. Those who committed these crimes must be held to account.

We will continue helping Iraqis build an impartial system of justice that protects all of Iraq's citizens. Millions of Iraqis are seeing their independent judiciary in action, as their former dictator, Saddam Hussein, is put on trial in Baghdad. The man who once struck fear in the hearts of Iraqis has heard his victims recount the acts of torture and murder that he ordered. One Iraqi watching the proceedings said: "We all feel happiness about this fair trial." Slowly but surely, with the help of our coalition, Iraqis are replacing the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law, and ensuring equal justice for all their citizens.

Oh, I know some fear the possibility that Iraq could break apart and fall into a civil war. I don't believe these fears are justified. They're not justified so long as we do not abandon the Iraqi people in their hour of need. Encouraging reconciliation and human rights in a society scarred by decades of arbitrary violence and sectarian division is not going to be easy and it's going to happen overnight. Yet the Iraqi government has a process in place to resolve even the most difficult issues through negotiate, debate and compromise. And the United States, along with the United Nations and the Arab League and other international partners, will support these efforts to help resolve these issues. And as Iraqis continue to develop the habits of liberty, they will gain confidence in the future, and ensure that Iraqi nationalism trumps Iraqi sectarianism.

A fourth key challenge is for Iraqis to maintain their newfound freedoms in a tough neighborhood. Iraq's neighbor to the east, Iran, is actively working to undermine a free Iraq. Iran doesn't want democracy in Iraq to succeed because a free Iraq threatens the legitimacy of Iran's oppressive theocracy. Iraq's neighbor to the west, Syria, is permitting terrorists to use that territory to cross into Iraq. The vast majority of Iraqis do not want to live under an Iranian-style theocracy, and they don't want Syria to allow the transit of bombers and killers into Iraq -- and the United States of America will stand with the Iraqi people against the threats from these neighbors.

We'll continue to encourage greater support from the Arab world and the broader international community. Many Arab states have kept the new Iraq at arms' distance. Yet as more Arab states are beginning to recognize that a free Iraq is here to stay, they're starting to give Iraq's new government more support. Recently, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan have welcomed the Iraqi Prime Minister on official visits. Last month, the Arab League hosted a meeting in Cairo to promote national reconciliation among Iraqis, and another such meeting is planned for next year in Baghdad.

These are important steps, and Iraq's neighbors need to do more. Arab leaders are beginning to recognize that the choice in Iraq is between democracy and terrorism, and there is no middle ground. The success of Iraqi democracy is in their vital interests because if the terrorists prevail in Iraq, they will then target other Arab nations.

International support for Iraq's democracy is growing, as well. Other nations have pledged more than $13 billion in assistance to Iraq, and we call on them, those who have pledged assistance, to make good on their commitments. The World Bank recently approved its first loan to Iraq in over 30 years, lending the Iraqi government $100 million to improve the Iraqi school system. The United Nations is playing a vital role in Iraq -- they assisted in last January's elections, and the negotiations for the constitution, and in the recent constitutional referendum. And at the request of the Iraqi government, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution extending the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq through 2006. Earlier this year, the European Union co-hosted a conference for more than 80 countries and international organizations, so they can better coordinate their efforts to help Iraqis rebuild their nation. Whatever differences there were over the decision to liberate Iraq, all free nations now share a common interest -- building an Iraq that will fight terror, and be a source of stability and freedom in a troubled region of the world.

The challenges ahead are complex and difficult, yet Iraqis are determined to overcome them and build a free nation. And they require our support. Millions of Iraqis will put their lives on the line this Thursday in the name of liberty and democracy. And 160,000 of America's finest are putting their lives on the line so Iraqis can succeed. The American and Iraqi people share the same interests and the same enemies -- and by helping democracy succeed in Iraq, we bring greater security to our citizens here at home.

The terrorists know that democracy is their enemy, and they will continue fighting freedom's progress with all the hateful determination they can muster. Yet the Iraqi people are stepping forward to claim their liberty, and they will have it. When the new Iraqi government takes office next year, Iraqis will have the only constitutional democracy in the Arab world, and Americans will have a partner for peace and moderation in the Middle East.

People across the broader Middle East are drawing, and will continue to draw inspiration from Iraq's progress, and the terrorists' powerful myth is being destroyed. In a 1998 fatwa, Osama bin Laden argued that the suffering of the Iraqi people was justification for his declaration of war on America. Now bin Laden and al Qaeda are the direct cause of the Iraqi people's suffering. As more Muslims across the world see this, they're turning against the terrorists. As the hope of liberty spreads in the Middle East, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose the sanctuaries they need to plan new attacks.

A free Iraq is not going to be a quiet Iraq -- it will be a nation full of passionate debate and vigorous political activity. It will be a nation that continues to face some level of violence. Yet Iraqis are showing they have the patience and the courage to make democracy work -- and Americans have the patience and courage to help them succeed.

We've done this kind of work before; we must have confidence in our cause. In World War II, the free nations defeated fascism and helped our former adversaries, Germany and Japan, build strong democracies -- and today, these nations are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, free nations defeated communism, and helped our former Warsaw Pact adversaries become strong democracies -- and today, nations of Central and Eastern Europe are allies in the war on terror.

Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with a totalitarian 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 the advance of freedom in the Middle East requires freedom in Iraq. By helping Iraqis build a lasting democracy, we will spread the hope of liberty across a troubled region, and we'll gain new allies in the cause of freedom. By helping Iraqis build a strong democracy, we're adding to our own security, and, like a generation before us, we're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses War on Terror and Upcoming Iraqi Elections, December 12, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051212-4.html


JIM LEHRER: Also, you told reporters this morning that, assuming the Dec. 15 elections in Iraq go well, that the U.S. can start drawing down forces. Tell me what you mean and give us some numbers on this.

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think what you meant to say, Jim, was that you read reports that I said that to reporters, as opposed to what I actually said.

JIM LEHRER: Okay. Tell me what you said.

DONALD RUMSFELD: I said, "condition-based." So I said was this, that we were as high as 160,000 -

JIM LEHRER: That's where we are now, right?

DONALD RUMSFELD: We're about 155,000.

JIM LEHRER: Okay.

DONALD RUMSFELD: And we're going to go back down to our baseline of about one hundred and thirty-seven, thirty-eight thousand, after the elections. I'm sure of that.

And then, after that, we'll look at the conditions, the circumstances, and to the extent, obviously, that conditions permit it, as the president said, I suspect that the commanders in the field would make recommendations for some reductions as the Iraqi security forces continue to grow in size and experience.

They are continuously taking over more responsibilities. They've now taken -- recently taken over 17 of our bases and they are running them now. They are going to be very much in charge of the election on Dec. 15 in terms of the security for that. They're operating, I suppose, maybe half of Baghdad right now on their own. They've taken over a province. And so that is a process that will go on. And as that happens we will be able to pare down our forces if the conditions permit.

JIM LEHRER: Now, if the conditions permit it, you said from one hundred and sixty to one hundred and thirty-seven after the elections. What do you expect to happen after the elections that would permit that?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Well, that's the amount we increased for the elections.

JIM LEHRER: Okay.

DONALD RUMSFELD: We found that there tends to be a spike of violence connected to major political events: The referendum on the constitution; the Jan. 30 elections earlier this year.

So we just plan to increase so that we're certain that those important political benchmarks can go forward.

JIM LEHRER: So you expect after the elections that the level of violence will diminish?

DONALD RUMSFELD: If the past is a guide, we'll undoubtedly see that to be the case.

JIM LEHRER: All right, now the figure that was mentioned in the story that I was reading from or quoting from said you used the figure, somebody used the figure in the discussion with you early today of 137,000 -- I mean 130,000 maybe shortly after the 137,000 -- no?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I said nothing like that.

JIM LEHRER: So you don't anticipate any specific figures after that. In other words --

DONALD RUMSFELD: I tell you what we are doing right now.

JIM LEHRER: Okay.

DONALD RUMSFELD: We've got our force - our folks in the Pentagon planning different scenarios: Staying level at 135,00- 137,000; going up if we need to go up; going down if we the conditions permit a reduction in our forces.

So that we're prepared to go any direction that's appropriate and the plans are there. And what we'll do is we'll be visiting with the commanders after the elections are over.

You know, there are a number of uncertainties. We don't know how long it will take for the Iraqis to form a new government. It could take several weeks; it could take a month or two, three months.

We don't know to what extent -- you think about what they are losing. The terrorists, the opponents, this is an enormous thing for them. If they fail to stop a democratic government, Iraqis with their own constitution, their own election, their own officials, a sovereign nation, if they don't stop that, they've lost something enormous.

If they could have Iraq as a base for terrorism, and an established caliphate that they could then expand and threaten moderate Muslim regimes in the region, so they have a lot at stake. And I expect them to be putting a lot of cards on the table.

JIM LEHRER: And a lot of cards, you mean a lot of violence like today, you know, a car bomb. A few days ago 40 - there were 34 killed today, 40 policeman were killed the other day, 10 U.S. Marines a few days before that. That is going to continue?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think that that is -- that they will clearly try to make this election a failure. They failed to do it in January. They failed to do it in October with respect to a constitutional referendum. And they're going to fail to do it next week. But they'll try.

JIM LEHRER: And you're saying that if they're not successful, then we will start withdrawing troops. If they do continue this level of violence, our troops are going to stay at the same levels?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think what we'll do is go back down to our baseline regardless.

JIM LEHRER: No matter what?

DONALD RUMSFELD: Yeah.

...

DONALD RUMSFELD: I sat down and I prepared a list of all the things that could really be bad. And I walked people through them in the Pentagon. And I walked the president through them. And there are an awful lot of things that could have gone wrong, some of which have and some of which have not.

And anyone knows that a -- when a war starts, the plans that one has all of a sudden are affected by the other side. They have a vote. And no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy as they say. And it doesn't. You then have to constantly adjust and adapt.

And the thing that might be useful to talk about some night would be what would the world look like if we pulled out? What would the world look like if we quit and if we just tossed in the towel and said it's too tough?

JIM LEHRER: As you know there are many opinions on that. And --

DONALD RUMSFELD: And I think I know what the world would look like. You would have there a haven for terrorists. You would have a caliphate established by extremists. And it would be a threat to the American people, a greater threat to the American people unquestionably.

It is a country with water, a country with oil. And it would be a danger to the entire region. It would be a threat to the moderate Muslim regimes in that region and it would be an enormous victory for the violent extremists, as opposed to a victory for the moderate Muslims.
 

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, December 8, 2005

source:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/fedagencies/july-dec05/rumsfeld_12-08.html

Copyright 2005 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions


Last week at the Naval Academy, I gave the first in a series of speeches outlining our strategy for victory in Iraq. I explained that our strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists and Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein -- they reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group. We believe that, over time, most of this group will be persuaded to support a democratic Iraq led by a federal government that is strong enough to protect minority rights.

The Saddamists are former regime loyalists who harbor dreams of returning to power -- and they're trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment among the larger Sunni community. Yet they lack popular support -- and over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by security forces of a free Iraq.

The terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda are the smallest but most lethal group. Many are foreigners coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. They are led by a brutal terrorist named Zarqawi -- al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq -- who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. The terrorists' stated objective is to drive U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq and to gain control of the country. They would then use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and try to establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain.

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th, blew up commuters in London and Madrid, and murdered tourists in Bali, killed workers in Riyadh, and slaughtered guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan. This is an enemy without conscience -- they cannot be appeased. If we're not fighting and destroying the enemy in Iraq, they would not be leading the quiet lives of good citizens. They would be plotting and killing our citizens -- across the world and within our own borders. By fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are confronting a direct threat to the American people -- and we will accept nothing less than complete victory.

We're pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq. Last week, my administration released a document called the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." Our goal is victory -- and victory will be achieved 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 against our nation.

Our strategy to achieve that victory has three elements. On the political side, we're helping the Iraqis build 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. In two-and-a-half years, the Iraqi people have made amazing progress. They've gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to liberation, to free elections, to a democratic constitution. A week from tomorrow, they will go to the polls to elect a fully constitutional government that will lead them for the next four years. By helping Iraqis continue to build their democracy, we will gain an ally in the war on terror; by helping them build a democracy, we will inspire reformers from Damascus to Tehran; and by helping them build a democracy, we'll make the American people more secure.

On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offense against the enemy. We're clearing 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 lives. And 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 foreign assistance.

As Iraqi forces become more capable, they're taking responsibility for more and more Iraqi territory; we're transferring bases for their control, to take the fight to the enemy. That means American and coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis and hunting down high-value targets like Zarqawi.

On the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, and reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In doing this, we have involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners, and supportive regional states.

A week ago at the Naval Academy, I spoke about our efforts to train the Iraqi security forces. I described the changes we've made in the way these forces are trained and the resulting gains the Iraqi forces have made in the past year. Today, I'm going to talk about how we're working with those Iraqi forces and Iraq's leaders to improve security and restore order, to help Iraqis rebuild their cities, and to help the national government in Baghdad revitalize Iraq's infrastructure and economy.

Over the course of this war, we have learned that winning the battle for Iraqi cities is only the first step. We also have to win the "battle after the battle" -- by helping Iraqis consolidate their gains and keep the terrorists from returning. Used to be that after American troops cleared the terrorists out of a city and moved onto the next mission, there weren't enough forces, Iraqi forces, to hold the area. We found that after we left, the terrorists would re-enter the city, intimidate local leaders and police, and eventually retake control. This undermined the gains of our military, it thwarted our efforts to help Iraqis rebuild and led local residents to lose confidence in the process and in their leaders.

So we adjusted our approach. As improvements in training produced more capable Iraqi security forces, those forces have been able to better hold onto the cities we cleared out together. With help from our military and civilian personnel, the Iraqi government can then work with local leaders and residents to begin reconstruction -- with Iraqis leading the building efforts, and our coalition in a supporting role.

This approach is working. And today, I want to describe our actions in two cities where we have seen encouraging progress -- Najaf and Mosul.

The city of Najaf is located about 90 miles south of Baghdad, and it's the home to one of Shia Islam's holiest places, the Imam Ali Shrine. As a predominantly Shia city, Najaf suffered greatly during Saddam's rule. Virtually every element of infrastructure and basic services had been crippled by years of insufficient maintenance. In 1991, thousands of Najaf residents were killed during a brutal crackdown by the dictator. Our troops liberated Najaf in 2003 -- yet about a year later, the city fell under the sway of a radical and violent militia. Fighting in the streets damaged homes and businesses, and the local economy collapsed as visitors and pilgrims stopped coming to the shrine out of fear for their lives.

In the summer of 2004, we discussed the growing problem in Najaf with Iraq's political leaders -- and the coalition and Iraqi government decided to retake control of the city. And we did. Together, coalition and Iraqi forces routed out the militia in tough, urban fighting. It was an intense battle, our guys performed great, and so did the Iraqi forces. Together with the Iraqi government and the Shia clerical community, we forced the militia to abandon the shrine and return it to legitimate Iraqi authority. The militia forces agreed to disarm and leave Najaf.

As soon as the fighting in Najaf ended, targeted reconstruction moved forward. The Iraqi government played an active role, and so did our military commanders and diplomats and workers from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Together, they worked with Najaf's governor and other local officials to rebuild the local police force, repair residents' homes, refurbish schools, restore water and other essential services, reopen a soccer stadium, complete with new lights and fresh sod. Fifteen months later, new businesses and markets have opened in some of Najaf's poorest areas, religious pilgrims are visiting the city again, construction jobs are putting local residents back to work. One of the largest projects was the rebuilding of the Najaf Teaching Hospital, which had been looted and turned into a military fortress by the militia. Thanks to the efforts by Iraqi doctors and local leaders, and with the help of American personnel, the hospital is now open and capable of serving hundreds of patients each day.

Najaf is now in the hands of elected government officials. An elected provincial council is at work -- drafting plans to bring more tourism and commerce to the city. Political life has returned, and campaigns for the upcoming elections have begun, with different parties competing for the vote. The Iraqi police are now responsible for day-to-day security in Najaf. An Iraqi battalion has consumed [sic] control of the former American military base, and our forces are now about 40 minutes outside the city.

A U.S. Army sergeant explains our role this way: "We go down there if they call us. And that doesn't happen very often. Usually, we just stay out of their way." Residents of Najaf are also seeing visible progress -- and they have no intention of returning to the days of tyranny and terror. One man from Najaf put it this way: "Three years ago we were in ruins. One year ago we were fighting in the streets ... [Now] look at the people shopping and eating and not in fear."

There is still plenty of work left to be done in Najaf. Like most of Iraq, the reconstruction in Najaf has proceeded with fits and starts since liberation - it's been uneven. Sustaining electric power remains a major challenge -- and construction has begun on three new substations to help boost capacity. Because there is a shortage of clean water, new water treatment and sewage units are being installed. Security in Najaf has improved substantially, but threats remain. There are still kidnappings, and militias and armed gangs are exerting more influence than they should in a free society. Local leaders and Iraqi security forces are confronting these problems -- and we're helping them.

Another area that has seen tremendous gains is the ancient city of Mosul. Mosul is one of Iraq's largest cities, and it's the home of a diverse population of Sunni Arabs, Kurds, and other ethnic groups. Mosul is also the city where our troops brought justice to Saddam's sons in the summer of 2003. In the months after liberation, Mosul was relatively quiet -- and so we began to redeploy our forces elsewhere in the country. And when the terrorists and Saddamists infiltrated the city, the Iraqi police were not up to the task of stopping them. These thugs intimidated residents, and overwhelmed the police.

By late last year, terrorists and Saddamists had gained control of much of Mosul, and they launched a series of car bombings and ambushes -- including an attack on a coalition mess tent that killed 14 American service members. The terrorists and Saddamists killed innocent Iraqi civilians, and they left them in the streets with notes pinned to their bodies threatening others. American and Iraqi forces responded with a series of coordinated strikes on the most dangerous parts of the city. Together we killed, captured, and cleared out many of the terrorists and Saddamists -- and we helped the Iraqi police and legitimate political leaders regain control of the city. As the Iraqis have grown in strength and ability, they have taken more responsibility for Mosul's security -- and coalition forces have moved into a supporting role.

As security in Mosul improved, we began working with local leaders to accelerate reconstruction. Iraqis upgraded key roads and bridges over the Tigris River, rebuilt schools and hospitals, and started refurbishing the Mosul Airport. Police stations and firehouses were rebuilt, and Iraqis have made major improvements in the city's water and sewage network.

Mosul still faces real challenges. Like Najaf, Mosul's infrastructure was devastated during Saddam's reign. The city is still not receiving enough electricity, so Iraqis have a major new project underway to expand the Mosul power substation. Terrorist intimidation is still a concern. This past week, people hanging election posters were attacked and killed. Yet freedom is taking hold in Mosul, and residents are making their voices heard. Turnout in the -- for the October referendum was over 50 percent in the province where Mosul is located. That's more than triple the turnout in the January election. And there's heavy campaigning going on in Mosul for next week's election.

In places like Mosul and Najaf, residents are seeing tangible progress in their lives. They're gaining a personal stake in a peaceful future, and their confidence in Iraq's democracy is growing. The progress of these cities is being replicated across much of Iraq -- and more of Iraq's people are seeing the real benefits that a democratic society can bring.

Throughout Iraq, we're also seeing challenges common to young democracies. Corruption is a problem at both the national and local levels of the Iraqi government. We will not tolerate fraud -- so our embassy in Baghdad is helping to demand transparency and accountability for the money being invested in reconstruction. We've helped the Iraqi people establish institutions like a Commission on Public Integrity and a stronger Supreme Board of Audit to improve oversight of the rebuilding process. Listen, the Iraqi people expect money to be spent openly and honestly -- and so do the American people.

Another problem is the infiltration of militia groups into some Iraqi security forces -- especially the Iraqi police. We're helping Iraqis deal with this problem by embedding coalition transition teams in Iraqi units to mentor police and soldiers. We're also working with Iraq leaders at all levels of government to establish high standards for police recruiting. In a free Iraq, former militia members must shift their loyalty to the national government, and learn to operate under the rule of law.

As we help Iraq's leaders confront these challenges, we're also helping them rebuild a sound economy that will grow and deliver a better life for their people. Iraq is a nation with the potential for tremendous prosperity. The country has a young and educated workforce, they've got abundant land and water, and they have among the largest oil resources in the world. Yet for decades, Saddam Hussein used Iraq's wealth to enrich himself and a privileged few. As he built palaces, Saddam neglected the country's infrastructure. He ruined the economy, and he squandered the most valuable resource in Iraq -- the talent and the energy of the Iraqi people.

So we're helping the new Iraq government reverse decades of economic destruction, reinvigorate its economy, and make responsible reforms. We're helping Iraqis to rebuild their infrastructure and establish the institutions of a market economy. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Iraq. Our policies are aimed at unleashing the creativity of the Iraqi people.

Like our approach to training Iraqi security forces, our approach to helping Iraqis rebuild has changed and improved. When we started the reconstruction progress in the spring of 2003, our focus was on repairing and building large-scale infrastructure -- such as electrical plants and large water treatment facilities. We moved forward with some of those large projects, yet we found our approach was not meeting the priorities of the Iraqi people. In many places, especially those targeted by the terrorists and Saddamists, the most urgent needs were smaller, localized projects, such as sewer lines and city roads. Delivering visible progress to the Iraqi people required us to focus on projects that could be completed rapidly.

And so in consultation with the Iraqi government, we started using more resources to fund smaller, local projects that could deliver rapid, noticeable improvements, and offer an alternative to the destructive vision of the terrorists. We increased the amount of money our military commanders had at their disposal for flexible use. We worked with Iraqi leaders to provide more contracts directly to Iraqi firms. And by adapting our reconstruction efforts to meet needs on the ground, we're helping Iraqi leaders serve their people, and Iraqis are beginning to see that a free life will be a better life.

Reconstruction has not always gone as well as we had hoped, primarily because of the security challenges on the ground. Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking. It's even harder when terrorists are trying to blow up that which the Iraqis are trying to build. The terrorists and Saddamists have been able to slow progress, but they haven't been able to stop it.

In the space of two-and-a-half years, we have helped Iraqis conduct nearly 3,000 renovation projects at schools, train more than 30,000 teachers, distribute more than 8 million textbooks, rebuild irrigation infrastructure to help more than 400,000 rural Iraqis, and improve drinking water for more than 3 million people.

Our coalition has helped Iraqis introduce a new currency, reopen their stock exchange, extend $21 million in micro-credit and small business loans to Iraqi entrepreneurs. As a result of these efforts and Iraq's newfound freedom, more than 30,000 new Iraqi businesses have registered since liberation. And according to a recent survey, more than three-quarters of Iraqi business owners anticipate growth in the national economy over the next two years.

This economic development and growth will be really important to addressing the high unemployment rate across parts of that country. Iraq's market-based reforms are gradually returning the proud country to the global economy. Iraqis have negotiated significant debt relief. And for the first time in 25 years, Iraq has completed an economic report card with the International Monetary Fund -- a signal to the world financial community that Iraqis are serious about reform and determined to take their rightful place in the world economy.

With all these improvements, we're helping the Iraqi government deliver meaningful change for the Iraqi people. This is another important blow against the Saddamists and the terrorists. Iraqis who were disillusioned with their situation are beginning to see a hopeful future for their country. Many who once questioned democracy are coming off the fence; they're choosing the side of freedom. This is quiet, steady progress. It doesn't always make the headlines in the evening news. But it's real, and it's important, and it is unmistakable to those who see it close up.

One of those who has seen that progress is Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has traveled to Iraq four times in the past 17 months, and the article he wrote when he returned from his most recent trip provides a clear description of the situation on the ground. Here's what Senator Lieberman wrote -- Senator Lieberman wrote about the Iraq he saw: "Progress is visible and practical. There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraq hands than before." He describes an Iraqi poll showing that, "two-thirds [of Iraqis] say they are better off than they were under Saddam Hussein."

Senator Lieberman goes on, "Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes, we do. And it's important to make clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still, but has changed over the years." The Senator says that mistakes have been made. But he goes on to say that he is worried about a bigger mistake. He writes, "What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory." Senator Lieberman is right.

There is an important debate going on in our nation's capital about Iraq, and the fact that we can debate these issues openly in the midst of a dangerous war brings credit to our democracy. In this debate, some are calling for us to withdraw from Iraq on a fixed timetable, without regard to conditions on the ground. Recently, one Democratic leader came out in support of an artificial deadline for withdrawal, and said an immediate withdrawal of our troops would, "make the American people safer, our military stronger, and bring some stability to the region." That's the wrong policy for our government. Withdrawing on an artificial deadline would endanger the American people, would harm our military, and make the Middle East less stable. It would give the terrorists exactly what they want.

In a letter to the terrorist leader Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader Zawahiri has outlined his goals in Iraq with these steps: "Expel the Americans from Iraq I establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq extend the jihad wave." The terrorists hope America will withdraw before the job is done, so they can take over the country and turn it into a base for future attacks. Zawahiri called the Vietnam War as a reason to believe the terrorists can prevail. He wrote, "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy." In the past, al Qaeda has said that American pullouts from Lebanon and Somalia showed them that America was weak and could be made to run. And now the terrorists think they can make America run in Iraq, and that is not going to happen so long as I'm the Commander-in-Chief.

We are not going to yield the future of Iraq to men like Zarqawi, and we're not going to yield the future of the Middle East to men like bin Laden. We will complete our mission in Iraq, and leave behind a democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. Our military will continue to hunt down the terrorists in Iraq -- and to prepare the Iraqi security forces to take over more of the fight and control more of the territory on their own. We will continue to help the Iraqis rebuild their cities and their lives so they can enjoy the prosperity that freedom brings. We will continue to stand with the Iraqi people as they move forward on the path of democracy. And when victory is achieved, our troops will then come home with the honor they've earned.

Next week, I'll discuss the political element of our strategy in greater detail -- how we're helping Iraqis build a democracy that will be a strong ally in this global war against the terrorists. One of the great lessons of history is that free societies are peaceful societies, and free nations give their citizens a path to resolve their differences peacefully through the democratic process.

Democracy can be difficult and complicated and even chaotic. It can take years of hard work to build a healthy civil society. Iraqis have to overcome many challenges, including longstanding ethnic and religious tensions, and the legacy of brutal repression. But they're learning that democracy is the only way to build a just and peaceful society, because it's the only system that gives every citizen a voice in determining its future.

Before our mission in Iraq is accomplished, there will be tough days ahead. Victory in Iraq will require continued sacrifice by our men and women in uniform, and the continued determination of our citizens. There will be good days and there will be bad days in this war. I reject the pessimists in Washington who say we can't win this war. Yet every day, we can be confident of the outcome because we know that freedom has got the power to overcome terror and tyranny. We can be confident about the outcome because we know the character and strength of the men and women in the fight. Their courage makes all Americans proud.

This generation of Americans in uniform is every bit as brave and determined as the generation that went to war after the attack on our nation 64 years ago today. Like those who came before, they are defeating a dangerous enemy, bringing freedom to millions, and transforming a troubled part of the world. And like those who came before, they will always have the gratitude of the American people.

Our nation will uphold the cause for which our men and women in uniform are risking their lives. We will continue to hunt down the terrorists wherever they hide. We will help the Iraqi people so they can build a free society in the heart of a troubled region. And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq and across the broader Middle East, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses War on Terror and Rebuilding Iraq, December 7, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051207-1.html


Q Howard Dean says the idea that the U.S. will win in Iraq is just plain wrong, and he's comparing the war to Vietnam. Is that a fair comparison, and what do you think about his comments?

THE PRESIDENT: I know we're going to win, and our troops need to hear, not only are they supportive, but that we have got a strategy that will win. Oh, there's pessimists, you know, and politicians who try to score points. But our strategy is one that is -- will lead us to victory. The only thing that the enemy has got going for them is the capacity to take innocent life and to get on our TV screens with this devastation that they cause. These people cannot stand free societies. They have no regard for the human condition. They'll kill women and children at the drop of a hat, all aimed at frightening the American people and trying to get us to withdraw. And if we were to withdraw, the likes of Zarqawi, who is a sworn ally of bin Laden, would have a safe haven from which to plot and plan.

The lessons of September the 11th are lessons this country must never forget. We've got to take each threat seriously; we've got to stay on the offense. In the long run, a democracy will help eradicate the conditions that allow these people to find any kind of support.

And so our strategy is two-fold. On the one-hand, we'll stay on the offense, we'll train Iraqi soldiers so they can take the fight to the enemy. And on the other hand, we'll continue to work with the Iraqi people to spread democracy.

And the American people must take notice of the fact that the people of Iraq are showing incredible courage in the face of this violence. After all, there was an election last January to put a transitional national government in place, then they voted on a constitution. And in a short period of time, they're going to be voting for a new government. They vote by the millions, which stands in stark contrast to the society in which they lived under the tyrant, Saddam Hussein, who, by the way, is now on trial, as he should be on trial.

I think his trial is indicative of the change that has taken place in the Iraqi society. In the old days, if Saddam and his cronies didn't like you, you didn't get a trail. You were just put to death or tortured. Today, there is a system, a judicial system in place that will give Saddam Hussein a chance to make his case in court, as well as giving those who have been tortured by Saddam Hussein a chance to step forth and provide witness to the brutality of this man.

I -- our troops need to know that the American people stand with them, and we have a strategy for victory. And of course there will be debate, and of course there will be some pessimists and some people playing politics with the issue. But by far, the vast majority of people in this country stand squarely with the men and women who wear the nation's uniform.

- George W. Bush, President Meets with World Health Organization Director-General, December 6, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051206-1.html


I realize that some have advocated a sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq. This would be unwise in the extreme: a victory for terrorists, bad for the Iraqi people, and bad for the United States. To leave that country before the job is done would be to hand Iraq over to car bombers and assassins. That nation would return to the rule of tyrants, become a massive source of instability in the Middle East, and be a staging area for ever greater attacks against America and other civilized nations.

As some of you know, when I first ran for Vice President five years ago, my Democratic opponent was a fine U.S. senator named Joe Lieberman. We disagreed on some issues, but we stand together on this war. After visiting our troops in Iraq last month, Senator Lieberman said, quote, "almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country." He is entirely correct.

On this, both Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree. The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission. But the world can have confidence in the resolve of the United States. We will stand by our friends. We will help Iraqis build a nation that is free and secure and able to defend itself. We will confront our enemies on this and every other front in the war on terror. And with good allies at our side, we will prevail.

In Iraq, we are going forward with a comprehensive strategy for victory. On the political side, we are helping the Iraqis to build the institutions of a free and representative government. Every benchmark has been met successfully -- starting with the turnover of sovereignty a year and a half ago, national elections last January, the drafting of the constitution last summer and its ratification by the Iraqi people in October, and less than ten days from now, the election of a new government under that constitution will occur.

On the economic side, we are helping the Iraqis in the work of rebuilding and reforming their economy. And on the security side, coalition and Iraqi goals are clear -- are to clear, to hold and to build: clearing areas of terrorist control, by taking the offensive, holding areas out of enemy control, and building, with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis prepare for a better future. In fact, at this very hour, the First Brigade of the Tenth Mountain Division is in Iraq carrying out the vital work of confronting terrorists and training Iraqi Security Forces to defend their country.

Thanks to the quality of our forces -- and the will of the Iraqi people to keep and defend their freedom -- we have been making steady progress. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi battalions ready for combat. Now there are more than 120 Iraqi Army and police combat battalions in the fight against the terrorists. About 80 of them are fighting side by side with coalition forces, and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight -- controlling their own area, conducting their own operations against the terrorists.

Gradually, Iraqi forces are taking control of more and more Iraqi territory -- and as they undertake more and more missions on their own, confidence is growing within the country and more and more intelligence is coming directly from the Iraqi people.

The mission of the United States and our coalition will continue to change as necessary, as it has from the beginning. Going forward, we'll have fewer nationwide operations and more specialized operations against the terrorists. We'll move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys. As the Iraqi Security Forces gain strength and experience, and as the political process advances, we'll be able to decrease American troop levels without losing our capacity to defeat the terrorists. All Americans can be certain: Any decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground and the judgments of our commanders -- not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C.

Our strategy is clear, our tactics will remain flexible, and we'll keep at this work until we finish the job. The progress we've seen in Iraq has not come easily, but it has been steady, and we can be confident going forward. By voting in free elections, by ratifying a constitution, by stepping forward in larger and larger numbers to fight and die to secure their country and defeat the terrorists, by preparing for elections later this month, Iraqis are showing that they value their own liberty and are determined to choose their own destiny.

And by staying in this fight, we honor both the ideals and the security interests of the United States of America. The victory of freedom in Iraq will inspire democratic reformers in other lands. In the broader Middle East and beyond, America will continue to encourage free markets, democracy, and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuits of peace. And as the people of that region experience new hope, progress, and control over their own destiny, we will see the power of freedom to change the world, and a terrible threat will be removed from the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Vice President's Remarks at a Rally for the Troops, December 6, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/12/20051206-2.html


November 30, 2005
White House releases the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Full PDF Document (386KB)


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 give-away outside an Iraqi hospital.

This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were 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 complete victory.

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 Victory in Iraq." This is an unclassified version of the strategy we've been pursuing in Iraq, and it is posted on the White House website -- 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 lives.

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 foreign assistance.

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 have 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 victory in Iraq -- and that's the training of Iraqi security forces. 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 the Iraqi forces grow more capable, they are 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 security forces is an enormous task, and it always hasn't gone smoothly. We all remember the reports of some Iraqi security forces running from the fight more than a year ago. Yet in the past year, Iraqi forces have made real progress. 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 Iraqi forces. 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 battle space, and conducting their own operations against the terrorists with some coalition support -- and they're helping to turn the tide of this struggle in freedom's favor. America and our troops are proud to stand with the brave Iraqi fighters.

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 Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army -- with six Iraqi battalions supporting them. 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 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 battle space -- 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 Tarek Hazem. This brave Iraqi fighter says, "We're not afraid. We're here to protect our country. All we feel is motivated to kill the terrorists." 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 that it 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 terrorist 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 earlier experiences and made changes in the way we help train Iraqi troops. When our coalition first arrived, we began the process 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 external.

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 the Iraqi military services, an Iraqi military academy, a non-commissioned 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 freedom.

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 small arms. This did not adequately prepare 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 skills.

Iraq has now six basic police academies, and one in Jordan, that together produce over 3,500 new police officers every ten 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 are getting live-fire training with the AK-47s.

As more and more skilled Iraqi security forces have come online, 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 trained. 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 given 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, "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 Iraqi people.

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 own forces. For example, a national depot has been established north of Baghdad that is responsible for supplying the logistical needs of the ten divisions of the Iraqi Army. 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 protect the vital ports of Basra and Umm Qasr. 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 Shoqutt 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 Wood of Richmond Hill, Georgia, is training Iraqi forces in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. He says this about the Iraqi units he is 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 are far better equipped, far better trained" than they once were. 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 are 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 the terrorists. 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 Abbass Abdul Jabar puts it this way: "We have to help the coalition forces as much as we can to give them a 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 have 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 process 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 sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose 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 people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a 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 terrorists' 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.

And 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 sacrifice. 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, "stay the course." If by "stay the course," they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by "stay the course," they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America -- they are 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 out-think 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 brutal enemy.

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 you.

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 American people.

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 -- against the terrorists. Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the 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 loves ones. We hold them in our hearts -- and we honor the memory of every fallen soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine.

One of those fallen heroes is a Marine Corporal named Jeff Starr, 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, "[I]f you're reading this, then I've died in Iraq. I don't regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are 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 mark."

There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr and his fallen comrades -- and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their 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 defend itself. 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 in 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.

- George W. Bush, President Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq, November 30, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051130-2.html


Challenges remain; let there be no doubt. Among them: further developing their logistics and administrative capacity at the brigade, division and ministry levels, to fully sustain Iraqi units through the range of combat operations.

And Iraqis are struggling to overcome the legacy of the Saddam era military, which punished initiative and centralized virtually all decision-making.

Let's be clear. U.S. forces are in Iraq to help the Iraqis fight the terrorists there, so we don't have to fight them here in the United States. Indeed, amid all the questions being asked about the situation in Iraq today, consider these:

Would America and the world be better off, would the American people be safer if the United States were to abandon the effort in Iraq prematurely, allowing the terrorists to prevail, or will the American people be better (sic) if we continue to work with the Iraqi people so that they're able to gain the experience and capabilities that they need to fight and defeat terrorists in their country?

The answer is clear. Quitting is not an exit strategy. It would be a formula for putting the American people at still greater risk. It would be an invitation for more terrorist violence. Indeed, the more the enemies make it sound as though the United States is going to quit, the more encouraged they will be and the more successful they will be in recruiting and in raising money and in trying to wait us out.

Rather than thinking in terms of an exit strategy, we should be focused on our strategy for victory. That is the president's strategy, to succeed in passing responsibility to the Iraqi people and in helping them to further develop the capabilities needed to assume that responsibility. The strategy is working and we should stick to it, and those who do will be proud of the accomplishment that we will see.

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, News briefing, November 29, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051129-secdef4361.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC


Q Sir, with elections coming up next year, how much pressure are you under to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, before the end of 2006?

THE PRESIDENT: Our policy - I'm giving a speech tomorrow that outlines the training - and the progress we're making in training Iraqis to provide security for their country. And we will make decisions about troop levels based upon the capacity of the Iraqis to take the fight to the enemy. And I will make decisions based upon -- the level of troops based upon the recommendations by the commanders on the ground. If they tell me we need more troops, we'll provide more troops. If they tell me we've got sufficient level of troops, that will be the level of troops. If they tell me that the Iraqis are ready to take more and more responsibility and that we'll be able to bring some Americans home, I will do that. It's their recommendation.

Secondly, we want to win. The whole objective is to achieve a victory against the terrorists. The terrorists have made it very clear that Iraq is a central front on the war on terror. See, they want us to leave before we've achieved our mission. You know why? Because they want a safe haven. They want to be able to plot and plan attacks. This country must never forget the lessons of September the 11th, 2001. And a victory in Iraq will deny the terrorists their stated goal.

Finally, a democracy in Iraq, which is now emerging, will serve as a fantastic example for reformers and others. And as democracy takes hold in the broader Middle East, we can say we have done our duty and laid the foundation of peace for generations to come.

Q Since we know that the preparation of Iraqi troops is a main reason you want to bring U.S. troops home, can you talk about how satisfied you are with the Iraqi troop preparedness?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, here's what I'm interested in. I'm interested in winning. I want to defeat the terrorists. And I want our troops to come home. But I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory, and we've got a strategy for victory. And the commanders will make the decision. See, that's what the people want. The people don't want me making decisions based upon politics; they want me to make decisions based upon the recommendation from our generals on the ground. And that's exactly who I'll be listening to.

Now, I know there's a lot of voices in Washington. We've heard some people say, pull them out right now. That's a huge mistake. It'd be a terrible mistake. It sends a bad message to our troops and it sends a bad message to our enemy and it sends a bad message to the Iraqis.

So my decision will be based upon the capacity of the - the willingness of our commanders to say, the Iraqis are taking more of the fight and, therefore, the conditions are such that we can reduce our troop presence.

Q Sir, do you agree with comments by Secretary Rice, who says that U.S. troops may not need to stay at current troop levels that we have there now for much longer?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is a conditions-based strategy we have. If conditions on the ground are such that we can reduce presence, the commanders will make that recommendation. But victory is the primary objective. We've sacrificed a lot. We've had - we've had, you know, some of the finest Americans die in Iraq. And one thing we're not going to do is let them die in vain. We will achieve our objective, which is a stable Iraq, an ally in the war on terror. And we will deny the terrorists safe haven in Iraq. Their stated objective is to use the one tool they've got - which is suicide bombers, beheadings and killings of innocent people - to drive us out of Iraq and the Middle East because they want to have safe haven, they want to spread their totalitarian ideology.

And so our objective in Iraq is to win. And we will make our decisions based upon primarily victory, and, second, whether or not the commanders think we can achieve that victory and what the - with a certain troop level. And that's what's important for the American people to understand. That one, we're not going to cut and run. Two, we'll achieve our objective. And, three, the President is going to listen to those who are on the ground, who can make the best assessment.

- George W. Bush, President Tours Border, Discusses Immigration Reform in Texas, November 29, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051129-2.html


WASHINGTON - Rep. Tim Murphy, one of two members of Congress treated at a military hospital after a weekend accident in Iraq, said Monday that wounded soldiers had told him the United States should remain in Iraq.

"Every soldier I talked to said, 'Don't pull out. Do not make it so those who have been wounded and those who have died have done so in vain. We know we can take care of this cause. We got to finish this,'" said Murphy, R-Pa., at a Capitol Hill news conference.

Murphy: Soldiers Say U.S. Should Stay

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

November 28, 2005

source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051129/ap_on_go_co/congressmen_injured_10

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press


Bush set to pull out 60,000 troops
By Tim Reid
Growing political and public aversion to the war in Iraq is forcing the President’s hand

PRESIDENT BUSH is planning a major pullout of US troops from Iraq amid rising opposition to the war on Capitol Hill and across America.

After a fortnight in which the political debate has rapidly moved from how to fight the war to how best to get out of Iraq, the White House is looking at reducing troop levels by at least 60,000 next year.

Confirming the worst fears of the war’s conservative supporters, who argue that more troops are needed to defeat the insurgency, senior military officials made clear yesterday that the Bush Administration’s goal is to cut troop levels from 160,000 to below 100,000 by the end of 2006.

Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, far from denying the withdrawal plan first reported in The Washington Post, said that a gradual pullout of troops could begin “fairly soon”, and that the number of coalition troops is “clearly going to come down”.

Dr Rice told Fox News that the US will not need to maintain its present troop levels in Iraq for “very much longer”, because Iraqi security forces are “stepping up”. She added: “I think that’s how the President will want to look at this.”

The talk of withdrawal comes after a profound and swift change in attitude about Iraq in Congress. The issue, festering just below the surface for months, has exploded in Washington and is resonating loudly throughout America. In the past fortnight the war has eclipsed every other subject and is accelerating Mr Bush’s slide in the polls.

For the first time senior Republicans are demanding an exit strategy, and with nearly two thirds of Americans now believing that the invasion was a mistake, the political debate is focused on how to end US involvement.

The mood swing began after the US death toll in Iraq passed 2,000 last month, days before the indictment of Lewis Libby, Vice-President Cheney’s former chief-of-staff, for his role in the CIA-leak scandal.

Democrats exploited Mr Libby’s indictment to broaden the debate about how the White House made the case for war, accusing the Administration of manipulating prewar intelligence. Those claims triggered fierce rebuttals from Mr Bush and Mr Cheney. They alleged that Democrats, many of whom voted for the war, saw the same intelligence as the White House. Mr Cheney called the accusations “revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety”.

But polls suggest the Democrat claims had some success. For the first time, a majority of Americans believe that Mr Bush is dishonest. Only 29 per cent believe that Mr Cheney is honest. The President’s approval rating is 36 per cent.

With debate about how the White House led the country into war raging, the Republican-controlled Senate backed a resolution last week — by 79 to 19 — that a phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq should begin next year.

The sponsors of that proposal were John Warner, the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Bill Frist, the Republican Senate leader.

They denied that the move was to distance Republicans from an increasingly unpopular war before next year’s mid-term elections. But John McCain, one of the few Republicans advocating a troop increase, said of his party: “They’re nervous. They see the polls.”

Bill Clinton, the former President, then appeared to disavow his support for the war, declaring it to have been a “big mistake”.

The issue moved centre stage on Friday after John Murtha, a Democrat congressman and a decorated Vietnam veteran who voted for the war, called for a total withdrawal of US troops. That call provoked an ugly and at times hysterical debate in the House of Representatives on Friday night. In a moment of vaudevillian theatrics, one Democrat crossed the floor with his fists raised.

Although Mr Murtha’s proposal for an immediate withdrawal was defeated 403 to 3, Republican attacks on the former Marine’s patriotism backfired. Talk about withdrawal, recently at the fringes of debate, now dominates the agenda. In the past 48 hours several Democrats with their eyes on the 2008 presidential race have talked about a phased pullout.

Fred Barnes, a commentator on the conservative Weekly Standard, said: “These events are ominous . . . they suggest that troop removal has superseded victory as the primary American concern.”

Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, said: “Americans are demanding a light at the end of the tunnel. Congress is responding to the question: when will it be over?”

- Times Online, November 24, 2005

source:  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1887806,00.html

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.


However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq "is clearly going to come down" because Iraqi forces are becoming more capable of taking over security functions themselves, but she stopped short of saying how many troops might leave or when they might come home.

"I suspect that the American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they are there for that much longer," Rice said in an interview with CNN's John King.

- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, November 22, 2005

source:   http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/23/liberman.iraq/

2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


"I do not think that American forces need to be there in the numbers that they are now for much longer because Iraqis are stepping up."

- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, November 22, 2005

source:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,176452,00.html

Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, LLC.


In light of the commitments our country has made, and given the stated intentions of the enemy, those who advocate a sudden withdrawal from Iraq should answer a few simple questions: Would the United States and other free nations be better off, or worse off, with Zarqawi, bin Laden, and Zawahiri in control of Iraq? Would we be safer, or less safe, with Iraq ruled by men intent on the destruction of our country?

It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone. In fact such a retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends, abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with murder and blackmail. A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for the terrorists, an invitation to further violence against free nations, and a terrible blow to the future security of the United States of America.

...

Day after day, Iraqis are proving their determination to live in freedom, to chart their own destiny, and to defend their own country. And they can know that the United States will keep our commitment to them. We will continue the work of reconstruction. Our forces will keep going after the terrorists, and continue training the Iraqi military, so that Iraqis can eventually take the lead in their country's security and our men and women can come home. We will succeed in this mission, and when it is concluded, we will be a safer nation.

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Vice President's Remarks on the War on Terror, November 21, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051121-2.html


Q: When are US forces pulling out of Iraq?

Rumsfeld: Well, they are going to be drawing down over time as conditions permit and military commanders and the Embassy in Baghdad are working with the Iraqi government to determine what those conditions are and in what case that would be appropriate.  In the meantime, we have put more forces in for the referendum in October and the election coming in December so we are up from 138,000 to 160,000 and we’ll be going down from 160,000 back to 138,000 after the December 15 elections. But reductions beyond that are things the President will decide based on the recommendations from the battlefield commanders.  My guess is we’ll continue to find that the conditions will permit reductions as Iraqi Security Forces continue to grow.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Stakeout After Appearance on Fox, November 20, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051120-secdef4342.html


Iraq withdrawal handily defeated
Murtha's call for pullout spurs fiery debate, vote in House

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House late Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail.

Democrats derided the vote as a political stunt.

"Our troops have become the enemy. We need to change direction in Iraq," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Democratic hawk whose call on Thursday for pulling out troops sparked a nasty, personal debate over the war. (Full Story)

The House voted 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.

"We want to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will not retreat," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, said as the GOP leadership pushed the issue to a vote over the protest of Democrats.

It was the second time in less than a week that President Bush's Iraq policy stirred heated debate in Congress. On Tuesday the Senate defeated a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal.

Murtha, a 73-year-old retired Marine colonel decorated for combat service in Vietnam, issued his call for a troop withdrawal at a news conference on Thursday. In little more than 24 hours, Hastert and Republicans decided to put the question to the House.

Democrats said it was a political stunt and quickly decided to vote against it in an attempt to drain it of significance.

"A disgrace," declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California. "The rankest of politics and the absence of any sense of shame," added Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat.

Republicans hoped to place Democrats in an unappealing position -- either supporting a withdrawal that critics said would be precipitous or opposing it and angering voters who want an end to the conflict. They also hoped the vote could restore GOP momentum on an issue -- the war -- that has seen plummeting public support in recent weeks.

Democrats claimed Republicans were changing the meaning of Murtha's withdrawal proposal. He has said a smooth withdrawal would take six months.

At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message -- stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message -- that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran.

Democrats booed and shouted her down -- causing the House to come to a standstill.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tennessee, charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks.

"You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Massachusetts.

Democrats gave Murtha a standing ovation as he entered the chamber and took his customary corner seat.

The fireworks, as lawmakers rushed toward a two-week Thanksgiving break, came just days after the GOP-controlled Senate defeated a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal. Spotlighting questions from both parties about the war, senators approved a statement that 2006 should be a significant year in which conditions are created for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Murtha has proposed his own resolution that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest practicable date." It would establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of Marines in the region. It also said the U.S. must pursue stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

The Republican alternative simply said: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

"It's just heinous," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-California, said of the Republican move.

"This is a personal attack on one of the best members, one of the most respected members of this House, and it is outrageous," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, however, said the resolution vote was not a stunt.

"This is not an attack on an individual," he said. "This is a legitimate question."

"They've been itching for a fight for a long time," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, said of the Democrats.

Bush, traveling in Asia, also fired back at his critics, saying a troop withdrawal would be "a recipe for disaster."

Most Republicans oppose Murtha's call for withdrawal, and some Democrats also have been reluctant to back his position.

Aware of the scene unfolding across Capitol Hill, Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, appealed for "bipartisanship on the war in Iraq instead of more political posturing."

A growing number of House members and senators, looking ahead to off-year elections next November, are publicly worrying about a quagmire in Iraq. They have been staking out new positions on a war that is increasingly unpopular with the American public, has resulted in more than 2,000 U.S. military deaths and has cost more than $200 billion.

A U.S. field commander in Iraq countered the position of Murtha, who usually backs the Pentagon.

"Here on the ground, our job is not done," said Col. James Brown, commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, when asked about Murtha's comments during a weekly briefing that American field commanders give to Pentagon reporters.

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha, said Thursday. "They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

"It's time to bring the troops home," he said.

Republicans pounced, chastising Murtha for advocating what they called a strategy of surrender and abandonment, and Democrats defended Murtha as a patriot, even as they declined to back his view.

"I won't stand for the swift-boating of Jack Murtha," Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, responded Friday. Also a Vietnam veteran, Kerry was dogged during the campaign by a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that challenged his war record.

"There is no sterner stuff than the backbone and courage that defines Jack Murtha's character and conscience," Kerry said.

For his part, Kerry has proposed a phased exit from Iraq, starting with the withdrawal of 20,000 troops after December elections in Iraq. A Kerry spokesman said "he has his own plan" when asked if Kerry agreed with immediate withdrawal.

As a Vietnam veteran and top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee with close ties to many military officers, Murtha carries more credibility with his colleagues on the issue than a number of other Democrats who have opposed the war from the start.

Bush administration officials have been cautious in responding to Murtha.

"We have nothing but respect for Congressman Murtha's service to his country," White House communications director Nicolle Wallace told NBC's "Today" show Friday. "And I think he spoke from the heart yesterday. We happen to have a real serious policy disagreement with him."

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, a 29-year Air Force veteran who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for nearly seven years, called Murtha's position unconscionable and irresponsible. "We've got to support our troops to the hilt and see this mission through," he said.

With a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Murtha retired from the Marine Corps reserves as a colonel in 1990 after 37 years as a Marine, only a few years longer than he's been in Congress. Murtha, elected in 1974, has become known as an authority on national security whose advice was sought out by Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

- CNN, November 19, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/11/18/congress.iraq.ap/index.html

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. (C) 2005 CNN


Iraq: We stay in fight, says Bush

BUSAN, South Korea (CNN) -- In a speech before U.S. troops who stand watch along the Korean frontier, U.S. President George W. Bush offered his latest rebuttal to Democratic calls to bring American troops home from Iraq, vowing to "stay in the fight until we have achieved the victory our brave troops have fought for."

"In Washington, there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great, and they urge us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission," Bush said Saturday. "Those who are in the fight know better."

"So long as I am commander-in-chief, our strategy in Iraq will be driven by the sober judgment of our military commanders on the ground," he said, adding that U.S. troops are "making steady progress" in training Iraqi forces to defend their country.

"As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," he said.

The president also made the argument that the U.S. operation in Iraq is part of "our work for peace and freedom," which involves "great sacrifice by our troops."

"We are helping the Iraqi people erect a working democracy in the heart of the Middle East," Bush said.

Recalling the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which he said launched America's war on terror, he said, "we will not wait to be attacked again. We will not rest or tire until the war on terror is won."

- CNN, November 19, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/19/iraq.bush/index.html

(C) 2005 CNN


Bush: Early Iraq Exit Would Be a Mistake
Bush Says Early Withdrawal From Iraq Would Be `terrible Mistake,' Renews Defense of War Policy
By JENNIFER LOVEN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Bush, opening a new push to defend his embattled war policy, said Tuesday a U.S. military pullout from Iraq would be a terrible mistake. His Pentagon chief said, "Quitting is not an exit strategy."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said of the Iraqis, "They know that they're the ones that are going to have to grab that country. And it's time."

The administration is under pressure to convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the president's strategy for Iraq is headed in the right direction nearly three years after the U.S.-led invasion. The president is to give a speech on the subject Wednesday at the Naval Academy and the White House is to release a 35-page document titled "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

The document is a public version of a classified strategy of military, political and economic efforts that are being implemented by Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Zalmay Khalizad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The document defines the enemy in Iraq and discusses experiences and lessons learned during the conflict, a senior White House official said.

In his remarks, Bush will talk about setbacks experienced in the training of Iraqi security forces and improvements that have been made, as well as areas now being controlled by Iraqis, the official said, insisting on anonymity because the president's address has not been released.

The official said Bush would not talk about troop withdrawals.

The unrelenting violence that continues to claim American lives has contributed to a drop in Bush's popularity, to its lowest level yet, and to growing doubts about the war. It also has led to a debate in Congress about when the 160,000 U.S. troops there should begin to come home.

The GOP-controlled Senate voted 79-19 this month to urge the president to outline a strategy for "the successful completion of the mission." Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., attracted attention with his call for a withdrawal within six months.

The administration has responded by counseling patience while also signaling it is planning for a way out. Bush, speaking to reporters from El Paso, Texas, rejected any immediate withdrawal in unusually personal terms.

"I want to defeat the terrorists. And I want our troops to come home," the president said. "But I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory."

His speech Wednesday at Annapolis, Md., was to focus on progress in the effort to train an Iraqi security force and allow the gradual exit of U.S. military forces.

Later speeches over the next two weeks are to emphasize the strides being made in establishing a stable, democratic government and creating a viable economy.

In June, Bush delivered a prime-time address from Fort Bragg, N.C., on the first anniversary of Iraq's sovereignty. Later in the summer, the president tried to blunt the message of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who camped outside his Texas ranch. He returned to the war theme on Veterans Day with a speech accusing congressional Democrats of being "deeply irresponsible" in their criticism of the way he portrayed intelligence about Iraq before the war.

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former Army Ranger who visited Iraq last month, said the president must give "an honest assessment" pointing out not only the successes in Iraq, but the remaining pitfalls.

"We have to go forward with a plan, not just slogans," he said.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld gave a preview of the administration's argument that Iraqi security forces are improving. He said about 29 military bases have been turned over to Iraqi control; the Iraqi army has seven division and 31 brigade headquarters in operation, compared with none 16 months ago; the number of Iraqi army battalions "in the fight" is now 95, compared with five 15 months ago, and there are now over 212,000 trained and equipped security forces, compared with 96,000 last year.

Rumsfeld noted changes in several areas once known for strife. Baghdad's infamously dangerous airport road is seeing a sharp decline in attacks under the control of an Iraqi police battalion. The city's once-violent Haifa Street is largely peaceful under the control of an Iraqi army battalion. And the Shiite areas of Najaf, Karbala and Sadr City, the scene of a number of battles last year, are now largely peaceful, Rumsfeld said.

"The people who've been denigrating the Iraqi security forces are flat wrong," he said. "They're doing a darn good job, and they're doing an increasingly better job every day, every week, every month."

Rumsfeld said leaving Iraq before the country is completely ready to secure itself would only invite more terrorist violence and put Americans at greater risk.

His words echoed the president, who promised the judgment of military commanders, not political considerations, would determine troop levels.

"People don't want me making decisions based on politics," Bush said. "They want me making decisions based on the recommendations of our generals on the ground. And that's exactly who I'll be listening to."

Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

AP Article, November 19, 2005

source:  http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1357200

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press, Copyright 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures


Defense official: Rumsfeld given Iraq withdrawal plan
Plan calls for troops to begin pulling out after December elections

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top U.S. commander in Iraq has submitted a plan to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq, according to a senior defense official.

Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades -- usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of Iraq early next year.

...

Rumsfeld has yet to sign Casey's withdrawal plan but, the senior defense official said, implementation of the plan, if approved, would start after the December 15 Iraqi elections so as not to discourage voters from going to the polls.

The plan, which would withdraw a limited amount of troops during 2006, requires that a host of milestones be reached before troops are withdrawn.

Top Pentagon officials have repeatedly discussed some of those milestones: Iraqi troops must demonstrate that they can handle security without U.S. help; the country's political process must be strong; and reconstruction and economic conditions must show signs of stability.

November 18, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/18/iraq.plan/index.html

(C) 2005 CNN


While the American people understandably want to know when our forces can leave Iraq, I believe they do not want them to leave until our mission is accomplished and the Iraqis are able to sustain their fledgling democracy. As the president has said, one cannot set arbitrary deadlines. Timing of the handover of responsibility to Iraqis depends on conditions on the ground. And already some responsibilities are being assumed by the Iraqi security forces. We must be careful not to give terrorists the false hope that if they can simply hold on long enough, that they can outlast us.

...

Third, it's going to be a mix of U.S., coalition, and Iraqi security forces. And how long will they stay there? They'll stay there as long as the battlefield commander decides it's a good idea to stay there.

...

 So it seems to me that we're all very much in agreement, the president of the United States, who says he wants to hand over responsibility as soon as is possible and is working very hard to achieve that. We're already handing over responsibility in a number of areas. I expect that after this election, we'll be able to hand over additional responsibilities as the Iraqi security forces continue to grow in number. And that's the desire of the -- at least a number of the Iraqi leaders, just as it's the desire of the president of the United States and the troops themselves.

We don't go into a country to stay in a country. We go into a country to try to be helpful and then leave as soon as is possible, but not in a manner that's precipitous; and not in a manner that would inject an instability into the situation; and not in a manner that would suggest to the terrorists that all they have to do is wait us out, and they'll be able to have their way. Because if they have their way and impose their medieval vision on that country in that part of the world, it would be an enormous price to pay. And I don't think that's going to happen.

- Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Press Briefing, November 15, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051115-secdef4301.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC


On September the 11th, 2001, history called on our nation to defend freedom once again. On that morning more than four years ago, Americans witnessed the violence and the hatred of a new enemy. We saw the terrorists' destructive vision for us and for all who love freedom. And in the face of this threat, our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger. We will stay on the offensive, we will not wait to be attacked again, and we will press on until this war is won.

...

The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter century: They hit us, and they expect us to run. The terrorists witnessed our response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983, and in Mogadishu in 1993, and they concluded that America can be made to run again -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences. The terrorists are mistaken. America will never run. We will stand, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror.

...

In Afghanistan, we put the terrorists on the run, we routed them, and now they've set their sights on another country. They're trying to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a terrorist sanctuary from which they can plan and launch attacks against our people. The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror. 

These militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain. If they are not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I make you this solemn commitment: That's not going to happen so long as I'm the President of the United States.

Some might be tempted to dismiss the terrorist goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme -- but we cannot afford to dismiss them. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence, and with a comprehensive strategy to win this war.

First, we are determined to prevent attacks by terrorist networks -- by protecting the homeland, and working with our allies to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership. Together with our coalition partners, we've disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th -- including several plots here on the homeland. Our coalition against terror has stayed on the offensive. We have killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks. We have killed or captured several of bin Laden's most senior deputies, including that -- the man who planned the U.S. -- the bombing of the USS Cole. We've killed and captured al Qaeda and -- and managers -- al Qaeda managers and operatives in countries all around the world. We will stay on the hunt. We will keep the pressure on these people. We will not relent until the terror networks that threaten us are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder.

Second, we are determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. Working with Great Britain and Pakistan and other nations, we exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its long-range ballistic missiles. And in the last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology -- including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program. We're going to continue to deny the world's most dangerous men the world's most dangerous weapons.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. So I've laid out a clear doctrine: The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor the terrorists because they're equally guilty of murder.  Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization -- and the civilized world will hold those regimes to account.

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to all who wear the uniform. American troops are fighting beside our Afghan partners against the remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. And you're fighting alongside courageous Iraqis against the remnants of a regime and a network of terrorists who want to stop the advance of a free Iraq. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies in the heart of their power, so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

As we pursue the terrorists, we have a strategy to go forward. Our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their people and take the fight to the enemy. And we're making steady progress. With every passing month, more and more Iraqi forces are standing up, and the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence. At the time of our Fallujah operations just a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces. American and Iraqi troops are conducting major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Iraqi police and security forces are helping clear the terrorists from their strongholds, hold on to the areas we've cleared, and prevent the enemy from returning.

Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when our commanders on the ground tell me that the Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

...

The work ahead involves great risk. A time of war is a time of sacrifice, and the greatest burden falls on our military families. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each loss is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifices of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

- George W. Bush, President Delivers Remarks at Elmendorf AFB on War on Terror, November 14, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051114-3.html


Iraqi, U.S. Officials Talk of Withdrawal
Authorities signal that foreign troops could start pulling out in the next two years.
By Paul Richter and John Daniszewski
Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Despite President Bush's effort to halt such talk, top Iraqi and American officials continue to suggest that U.S. and British troops in Iraq could begin substantial withdrawals as soon as next year.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on a British TV program over the weekend that Iraqi forces might be ready to replace British troops by the end of next year. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, have also predicted recently that a substantial troop reduction could begin in 2006.

As U.S. public support for the war has declined in recent months, Democrats have become bolder in criticizing the war, and some Republicans are worried that discontent about the conflict could cost the GOP congressional seats next year.

On Monday, the Senate began debate on measures that would, for the first time, ask Bush to set limits for keeping troops in Iraq, Bloomberg News reported.

One measure is sponsored by Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and fellow Republican Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, and another is backed by Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Carl Levin of Michigan. Both would require the White House to make periodic reports to lawmakers on the military situation in Iraq. Votes could come today.

Bush has repeatedly refused to offer any timetable for a withdrawal, saying that to do so would strengthen the hand of insurgents. But analysts say there is growing political pressure in all three countries to reduce the presence of foreign forces 2 1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion.

In September, an 18-member committee of Iraq's National Assembly termed such troops "occupation forces" and called for a timetable for their withdrawal.

In Talabani's comments on British TV, he said: "We don't want British forces forever in Iraq. Within a year, I think at the end of 2006, Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British troops in the south." But Talabani revised his prediction Monday during a trip to Vienna, saying that British troops might be able to begin a phase-out by 2007.

In Britain, where the war remains unpopular, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday that it was "entirely reasonable to talk about the possibility of withdrawal of troops next year" as long as "the job is done."

Khalilzad made his prediction Oct. 25 on PBS' "Newshour," saying, "We are on the right track to start significant reductions in the coming year."

Despite such comments, some Iraqi officials have joined the Bush administration in warning that a premature troop reduction could set the stage for war among Iraq's three principal ethnic and sectarian groups, further destabilizing the region.

Wayne E. White, former deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said Monday that he thought political factors in the U.S. and pressure on its military eventually would make debate about withdrawal "moot."

"I don't think the United States or Britain can sustain a deployment of this size over many more years," said White, an adjunct scholar with the Middle East Institute in Washington.

More than 140,000 U.S. and 8,000 British troops are in Iraq.

White said the U.S. should set a deadline for the full withdrawal of troops within three years. That approach, he said, would put pressure on the Iraqi government to fully prepare its forces while showing that, contrary to a widely held belief in Iraq, America does not intend to stay indefinitely so it can maintain military bases and control Iraq's oil.

U.S. and Iraqi defense officials say the training of Iraqi security forces is moving ahead.

Iraqi Defense Ministry analyst Mohammed Askari said Iraqi forces — if provided equipment such as helicopters, tanks and artillery — could protect the country from internal threats within six months. But he added: "Maybe we need American troops for the next few years to protect us from external invasions, because there are various countries with ill intentions against Iraq."

Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said the Iraqis had about 110,000 trained police officers. They also have 10 divisions of soldiers in uniform (a division may have as many as 15,000 troops). But only one division is trained and equipped to be battle-ready.

Richter reported from Washington and Daniszewski from Baghdad.

LA Times, November 15, 2005

source:  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-withdraw15nov15,0,3712901.story

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times


UK troops out of Iraq 'next year'
British troops could leave Iraq by the end of next year, the country's president Jalal Talabani has predicted.
But he warned an immediate withdrawal of multinational forces rather than a gradual one would be a "catastrophe" for Iraq and would lead to civil war.

He told ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme Iraqis did not want foreign troops to remain indefinitely.

"Within one year....Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the south," he said.

Only last month the head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, said it would be "foolhardy" to set a date for UK troops to pull out.

He told the BBC that Iraqi forces could be up to strength in about a year but the decision to withdraw would be complicated and the timing could vary from region to region.

'Main job over'

Mr Talabani was pressed on whether his prediction of UK troops leaving "at the end of 2006" amounted to a commitment.

The Kurdish leader said he had not been in negotiations and it was merely an "estimation of the situation".

"There is not one Iraqi that wants that forever the troops remain in the country," he added.

The Iraqi leader said he understood the British people were eager for their troops to return home.

He said: "British people have full right to ask this, their sons coming back home, especially if they finished their main job, which was the ending of dictatorship."

Mr Talabani called for a gradual pull-out, with close co-ordination between coalition nations and the Iraqi authorities.

Upsurge of violence

To support his stance, he issued a stark warning of a "catastrophe" in the event of an immediate withdrawal.

He said if his country descended into civil war, it could have harmful consequences for the whole Middle East region.

Mr Talabani said: "It would lead to a kind of civil war and... we will lose what we have done for liberating Iraq from worst kind of dictatorship.

"Instead of having a democratic, stable Iraq, we will have a civil war in Iraq, we will have troubles in Iraq [and they] will affect all the Middle East."

He acknowledged that an upsurge of violence could be expected in the run-up to National Assembly elections scheduled for 15 December.

However, he rejected suggestions insurgents would have an impact on the result.

He also denied there was a link between Britain's involvement in the Iraq war and the 7 July terror attacks in London.

-BBC, November 13, 2005

source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4432480.stm

(C) MMV BBC


At this hour, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our freedom in the first war of the 21st century. The war came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. That morning, we saw the destruction that terrorists intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again. And our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity; we will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.

...

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory.

...

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive plan. Our strategy is to clear, hold, and build. We're working to clear areas from terrorist control, to hold those areas securely, and to build lasting, democratic Iraqi institutions through an increasingly inclusive political process. In recent weeks, American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Baghdad, and parts of Iraq.

Two weeks ago, in Operation Clean Sweep, Iraq and coalition forces raided 350 houses south of Baghdad, capturing more than 40 of the terrorist killers. Acting on tips from local citizens, our forces have recently launched air strikes against terrorist safe houses in and around the towns of Ubaydi and Husaybah. We brought to justice two key senior al Qaeda terrorist leaders. And in Mosul, coalition forces killed an al Qaeda cell leader named Muslet, who was personally involved in at least three videotaped beheadings. We're on the hunt. We're keeping pressure on the enemy.

And thousands of Iraqi forces have been participating in these operations, and even more Iraqis are joining the fight. Last month, nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers graduated from 10 weeks of basic training. They'll now take their places along other brave Iraqis who are taking the fight to the terrorists across their own country. Iraqi police and security forces are helping to clear terrorists from their strongholds, helping to hold onto areas that we've cleared; they're working to prevent the enemy from returning. Iraqi forces are using their local expertise to maintain security, and to build political and economic institutions that will help improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

At the same time, Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. Last month, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote, and they approved a new constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and the level of violence was lower.

Now, Iraqis are gearing up for December 15th elections, when they will go to the polls to choose a government under the new constitution. The new government will serve a four-year term, and it will represent all Iraqis. Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for the December elections. Multiple Sunni Arab parties have submitted a list of candidates, and several prominent Sunni politicians are running on other slates. With two successful elections completed, and a third coming up next month, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence.

The work ahead involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in this war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones at home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing, with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters -- they're murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution -- in the space of two-and-a-half years.

I have said, as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces.  General David Petraeus says, "Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well." This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.  Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges.  These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them.  Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough.  And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is difficult, and it's a long-term project, yet there is no alternative to it. Our future and the future of the region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, in our generation and for the next.

If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation of free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end. By standing for hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

...

We don't know the course of our own struggle will take, or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice, we do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history, and we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

- George W. Bush, President Commemorates Veterans Day, Discusses War on Terror, November 11, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051111-1.html


Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced a troop rotation for Iraq that will number at least 92,000 soldiers through 2008, although officials said it likely will be considerably larger.

- "Suicide Bomber Kills Four GIs in Iraq," By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer, November 7, 2005

source:  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wire/ats-ap_top13nov07,0,2934521.story


Iraq asked the U.N. Security Council on Monday to let a U.S.-led multinational force remain in Iraq for another year, acknowledging its own troops could not yet assure national security.

The request came in a letter to the 15-nation council from Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.

"This means that basically the mandate and the status of the multinational force will be discussed in the coming weeks so that from January 1, 2006, we will have a consistent military presence in Iraq as happened in the past," Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, the foreign minister of Romania, the Security Council president for October, told reporters.

The multinational force's current mandate expires at the end of this year, under a resolution approved by the council in June 2004, when the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority turned over Iraq's administration to an interim government.

Extending the mandate through the end of 2006 will require the council to adopt a new resolution in the next two months.

Jaafari said the government in Baghdad wanted the right to terminate the mandate before the end of 2006 if it decided to do so. He also asked the council to agree to review the new mandate eight months after its approval or at any other time if asked to do so by Baghdad.

"The Iraqi national security forces, which are increasing in size, capability and experience day after day, need more time to complete their ranks, training and equipment in order to take over the primary responsibility of providing adequate security for Iraqis," Jaafari wrote.

Under the political timetable set out in the June 2004 resolution, Iraqis are to elect a government by December 31 now that the new constitution has been approved in an October 15 referendum. Parliamentary elections have been set for December 15.

There are now about 175,000 soldiers in the multinational force, including about 150,000 from the United States.

- "Iraq asks U.N. to let US-led force stay," Reuters,  Mon October 31, 2005

source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051031/ts_nm/iraq_un_forces_dc_1

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.


Our security at home is directly linked to a Middle East that grows in freedom and peace. The success of the new Iraqi government is critical to winning the war on terror and protecting the American people. Ensuring that success will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve, and it will involve more risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces.

The progress we have made so far has involved great sacrifice. The greatest burden has fallen on our military families. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of them has left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. Yet these patriots have also left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans, and millions of others who have only known oppression, to enjoy the blessings of liberty.

The best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and win the war on terror. We will train Iraqi security forces and help a newly elected government meet the needs of the Iraqi people. In doing so, we will lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, October 29, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051029.html


There's still difficult work ahead, because the terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in the war against the civilized world. We are dealing with enemies that recognize no rule of warfare and accept no standard of morality. They have declared their intention to bring great harm to any nation that opposes their aims. Their prime target is the United States. So we have a responsibility to lead in this fight.

Although we've been in the struggle against terrorism for four years now, the terrorists were actually at war with us long before 2001. But for a long time, they were the ones on the offensive. And they grew bolder in their belief that if they killed Americans, they could change American policy. And they did. In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241 Americans. Following the attack, the U.S. withdrew from Beirut. Time and again, for the remainder of the 20th century, the terrorists hit America and America did not hit back hard enough. In 1993 we had the killing of American soldiers in Mogadishu, the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York; murders, in 1995, at the Saudi National Guard Training Center in Riyadh; the killings at the Khobar Towers, in 1996; the bombing of two embassies in Africa, in 1998; the USS Cole in 2000. The terrorists came to believe they could strike America without paying a price.

And so they continued to wage those attacks -- making the world less safe and, of course, eventually striking us right here at home on 9/11. Now they're making a stand in Iraq -- testing our resolve, trying to shake our commitment to democracy in that country. If the terrorists were to succeed, they would return Iraq to the rule of tyrants, make it a source of instability in the Middle East, and use it as a staging area for ever greater attacks against America and other civilized nations. As President Bush has said, the only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission. But this nation has made a decision: We will stand by our friends. We will help Iraqis build a nation that is free and secure and able to defend itself. We will confront our enemies on this and every other front in the war on terror. And with good allies at our side, we will prevail.

The progress we've seen in Iraq has not come easily, but it has been steady, and we can be confident going forward. By voting in free elections, ratifying a constitution, and preparing for elections later this year, the Iraqis are showing they value their own liberty and are determined to choose their own destiny. And by staying in this fight, we honor both the ideals and the security interests of the United States. The victory of freedom in Iraq will inspire democratic reformers in other lands.

In the broader Middle East and beyond, America will continue to encourage free markets, democracy, and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuit of peace.

And as the peoples of that region experience new hope and control over their own destiny, we will see the power of freedom to change our world, and a terrible threat will be removed from the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Vice President's Remarks at a Rally for the Troops, October 28, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051028-8.html


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi political parties fine-tuned strategies for mid-December elections as the US envoy said political progress could allow the United States to withdraw some of its troops next year.

"I do believe it's possible that we could adjust our forces, downsizing them in the course of next year," US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told media in Washington.

"That's possible given the positive political developments and the continuing growth in the capabilities of the Iraqi forces."

- "US envoy moots Iraq troop pullback," AFP, October 27, 2005

source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051027/wl_afp/iraq_051027084441

Copyright 2005 Agence France Presse.


Every man and woman who volunteers to defend our nation in battle also deserves something else -- an unwavering commitment to the mission, and a clear strategy for victory.  On the morning of September the 11th, 2001, we saw the destruction that terrorists intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again. And our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not rest or tire until the war on terror is won.

...

No acts of ours involves the rage of killers. And no concessions, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans of murder. On the contrary; they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory.

...

Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded -- but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder.

...

...we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and launching pad for terror. This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to our Armed Forces -- and because of that, it's brought urgent responsibilities to you all. American troops are fighting beside Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. We're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. We're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorists' goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power -- and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive plan. As Secretary Rice explained last week, our strategy is to clear, hold, and build. We're working to clear areas from terrorist control, to hold those areas securely, and to build lasting, democratic Iraqi institutions. In recent weeks, American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Western Iraq, and to help shut down terrorist entry routes from Syria. During one raid, our forces killed a top Zarqawi henchman named Abu Abdullah, who was responsible for attacks on American troops and on innocent Iraqis. Thousands of Iraqi forces have been participating in these operations, and many have remained in cities along with coalition forces to hold onto our gains and prevent the enemy from returning. Iraqi forces are using their local expertise to maintain security, and to make tangible improvements in the lives of their fellow Iraqis.

At the same time, Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. Ten days ago, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote on a constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. And today the Iraqi elections commission certified the passage of the constitution. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and the level of violence was dramatically lower. With their courageous vote, the Iraqi people have once again proved their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence.

An 85-year-old Iraqi woman cast a ballot in favor of the constitution after her son carried her on his back to the polls. Here's what she said. She said, "I went out to vote for it because I want the future to be safe and peaceful for my sons and my grandchildren."

We got more work to do, and it involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. A time of war is a time for sacrifice, and the greatest burden falls on military families. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones back home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom.

The sacrifices made by you and your loved ones in uniform are always on our minds and in our prayers. All of you also understand that sacrifice is essential to winning war -- and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve. The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of common humanity and by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead; nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It's not justified. With every random bombing and every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves. In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution -- in the space of two and a half years.

With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations nearly a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces. General David Petraeus said, "Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well." The progress isn't easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom. We've heard it suggested Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. That's the essence of democracy. You make your case; you debate those who disagree with you; you build consensus by persuasion; and you answer to the will of the people.

We've heard it said that the Shia and Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country.

It's true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq, but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower, it's a healthy, sturdy tree. As Americans, we believe that people everywhere prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all. And so we're confident; as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.

Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted by a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources? Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our country, seizes control of Iraq by violence.

There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. That would be a pleasant world -- but it isn't the world in which we live. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory -- and we will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants of future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is difficult, and it's a long-term project; yet there's no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger -- in our own generation and in the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end. By standing for the hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

-George W. Bush, President Addresses Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Luncheon, October 25, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051025.html


JON SOPEL: Okay. Let's turn to Iraq now where there have been some positive political developments this week. The start of the trial of Saddam Hussein, the vote on the Constitution, the result of which we await. How far are we away then do you think from Iraq being stable enough for the US and Britain to pull out its troops.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We've been very clear that we don't want to talk about timetables, we want to talk about results and we want to talk about a success strategy and the Iraqis are making very steady and quite remarkable process on the political front.

When you think about it, everything that they've been asked to do out of the transitional administrative law, at the time well before the transfer of sovereignty, they have done, they have received sovereignty, they've had a government that receives sovereignty, they had elections, they've now had a Constitution written, they've had a referendum, they're going to have permanent elections. So the political process is going forward.

Now it is absolutely the case that you have evil people, men, violent men, who seem determined to try to throw this off course, but they haven't been able to. The real defeat for the terrorists last week, was that people went to the polls in larger numbers than they went to the polls in January, in order to exercise their right to vote.

Now, what we're doing, we and our colleagues in Britain is training - and our NATO colleagues, training the security forces of Iraq, so that they can clear these areas where insurgents are, hold the territory and then build economic im ... (interjection and overlap) ... structures.

JON SOPEL: I know you're used to dealing with worse case scenarios, I'm trying to ask you what's the best case scenario. How soon do you think it will be stable, when do you think it may be possible. I mean your colleague has said that he thinks it can be a stable democracy within five to ten years, which is something he said a few days ago.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I think it's entirely possible that it can be a stable democracy within, within several years but our job is not to try to pre-judge or try to pre-figure that outcome, but rather to try to set the conditions in which it will become a stable democracy, and one of the most important conditions, is that the Iraqi governments knows that it has partners in the training of its security forces and in the creation of its political structures.

JON SOPEL: So five to ten years, as he said.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I am not going to, to try to predict. Let's not ...

BOTH TOGETHER

JACK STRAW: (overlaps) Look, I, I was talking about what I thought was possible and I think it is possible, let us see. Just picking up what - something that the Secretary has just said, I remember the first press conference that I did with her, after she'd become Secretary of State in February.

A lot of scepticism about whether the political timetable would be met and as Condi has just said, and in fact it has been met, so scepticism not only in Iraq but by critics elsewhere.

It is remarkable, despite the violence that this timetable has been met. The other thing which is again, against expectations is the degree to which the Iraqis own security forces have been built up.

A hundred and eighty thousand now in those forces, some not so good, but many of the units very good and working extremely effectively with the coalition.

JON SOPEL: Well obviously, and that's a key issue before there can be a transference of power.

JACK STRAW: Indeed. Sure ...

JON SOPEL: Iraq can govern itself and keep its borders secure and internal security secure, and yet we hear you talking about there being something like ninety odd battalions and General Casey talking about there being one battalion that is fully operational.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: No, General Casey is the one who gave us the number of course, ninety one. Let me explain. There are ninety one battalions that are in the fight. Now there are three categories of battalions in the Iraqi Armed Forces at this point.

There are battalions - and by the way, they are all in the combat fight, every single one of them. There are battalions that are capable of completely independent operations.

That means they need no logistical support, they don't need indirect fire support, though there are very few of those. Then you have ones ... (interjection)

JON SOPEL: General Casey said one.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well one or two or some place, in the very low numbers, but this was by design, because you build the combat power first. You build the teeth first and then you build the tail. We can provide the tail, we can provide the logistics, we can provide the indirect fire support.

What we want to do is to have Iraqis in the front of the fight. Now there are also Iraqi forces, so you're going to have to give me a moment to do this because it's an important point. There are also forces that are capable of being the combat power without American forces with them.

But they still need indirect fire support or logistical support, that's another category. And then there are those that we believe we still need to help provide he combat power and where we are integrated with them.

So it is a mistake, and I've seen it done so many times in the news that I really must insist; people need to understand that when we talk about completely independent, we mean independent of our logistics, not independent of our soldiers, that's a very different matter ... (overlaps)

JON SOPEL: Okay. This is has taken two and a half years to get to the stage where, as has just been said, there is one or two or three battalions that are fully operational, but you've also got the problem ...

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: (interjects) No, no. You just made mistake, not fully operational ...

JON SOPEL: (overlaps) Fully independent.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Yeah. But it's an important distinction because they are all operational, they are all in the fight.

JON SOPEL: But you have seen in the South of the country, the problems that there have been with the insurgency and infiltration of the security forces by insurgents.

JACK STRAW: Well, there have been specific problems and we know that from the South, but what is also true, as President Talabani made clear when he was visiting the UK a couple of weeks ago, is that in about fourteen of the eighteen provinces of Iraq, there is pretty good security.

Now that's not to deny the problems in the other four, but it is to spell out that this is a country which despite the internal terrorism and the foreign fighter terrorism has a population which is determined to overcome that terrorism, and which is showing, by its own courage, that it wants to follow the path to democracy. The other thing I' just say is this, if you look at nation building after the Second World War, that took years, it did not, they did not have national elections in Germany within two years, it took four years. They had chaos in Germany after two years.

One of the reasons the Marshall Fund was established was because of the failure over two years, of any of the interim reconstruction efforts. There was starvation, there was dissent, there was serious discontent, and the national building for Germany took a long time, it took for Austria, it took even longer. But out of those ashes you've got a fully functioning democracy there and I believe in Iraq we will see the same process.

- Jon Sopel interview with Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw, MP, On Politics Show (BBC1), Sunday 23 October 2005

source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/4360122.stm

(C) BBC MMV


Thank you. I would like to deliver this in full. It's my first opportunity to talk to you specifically about Iraq. I've spoken many times about why we are there, but I would like to talk about how we assure victory.

In short, with the Iraqi Government, our political-military strategy has to be to clear, hold, and build: to clear areas from insurgent control, to hold them securely, and to build durable, national Iraqi institutions.

In 2003, enforcing UN resolutions, we overthrew a brutal dictator and liberated a nation. Our strategy then emphasized the military defeat of the regime’s forces and the creation of a temporary government with the Coalition Provisional Authority and an Iraqi Governing Council.

In 2004, President Bush outlined a five-step plan to end the occupation: transferring sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government, rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, getting more international support, preparing for Iraq’s first national election this past January, and helping to establish security. Our soldiers and marines fought major battles, major battles, against the insurgency in places like Najaf and Sadr City and Fallujah.

In 2005, we emphasized transition: a security transition to greater reliance on Iraqi forces and a political transition to a permanent, constitutional democracy. The just-concluded referendum was a landmark in that process.

And now we are preparing for 2006. First we must help Iraqis as they hold another vital election in December. Well over 9 million Iraqis voted on Sunday. Whether Iraqis voted yes or no, they were voting for an Iraqi nation, and for Iraqi democracy.

And all their voices, pro and con, will be heard again in December. If the referendum passes, those who voted no this time will realize that their chosen representatives can then participate in the review of the constitution that was agreed upon last week.

This process will ultimately lead to Iraqis selecting a lasting government, for a four year term. We must then have a decisive strategy to help that government set a path toward democracy, stability, and prosperity.

Our nation – our servicemen and women – are fighting in Iraq at a pivotal time in world history. We must succeed. And I look forward to working together with you on winning.

We know our objectives. We and the Iraqi Government will succeed if together we can:

Break the back of the insurgency so that Iraqis can finish it off without large-scale military help from the United States.

Keep Iraq from becoming a safe haven from which Islamic extremists can terrorize the region or the world.

Demonstrate positive potential for democratic change and free expression in the Arab and Muslim worlds, even under the most difficult conditions.

And turn the corner financially and economically, so there is a sense of hope and a visible path toward self-reliance.

Now, of course, to achieve this, we must know who we are fighting. Some of these people are creatures of a deposed tyrant, others a small number of home-grown and imported Islamist extremists. They feed on a portion of the population that is overwhelmed by feelings of fear, resentment, and despair.

As I have said, our strategy is to clear, hold, and build. The enemy’s strategy is to infect, terrorize, and pull down.

They want to spread more fear, resentment, and despair -- inciting sectarian violence as they did 2 weeks ago in Hillah, when they blew up devout worshippers in a mosque, and committed this atrocity during the holy month of Ramadan. They attack infrastructure, like electricity and water, so that average Iraqis will lose hope.

They target foreigners. The enemy forces have never won even a platoon-size battle against our soldiers and marines. But their ultimate target is the coalition’s center of gravity: the will of America, of Britain, and of other coalition members. Let us say it plainly: The terrorists want us to get discouraged and quit. They believe we do not have the will to see this through. They talk openly about this in their writings on their websites.

And they attack the Iraqi Government, targeting the most dedicated public servants of the new Iraq. Mayors and physicians and teachers and policemen, soldiers – none are exempt. Millions of Iraqis are putting their lives on the line every single day to build a new nation and the insurgents want most to strike at them.

Sadly, this strategy has some short-term advantages because it is easier to pull down than to build up. It is easier to sow fear than to grow hope.

But the enemy strategy has a fatal flaw. The enemy has no positive vision for the future of Iraq. They offer no alternative that could unite Iraqi as a nation. And that is why most Iraqis despise the insurgents.

The enemy leaders know their movement is unpopular. Zawahiri’s July letter to Zarqawi reveals that he is "extremely concerned" that, deprived of popular support, the insurgents will "be crushed in the shadows." "We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the Taliban," he warned, whose regime "collapsed in days, because the people were passive or hostile."

Knowing how unpopular they are, the enemy leaders also hate the idea of democracy. They will never let themselves or their ideas face the test of democratic choice.

Let me now turn to our political-military strategy. We are moving from a stage of transition toward the strategy to prepare a permanent Iraqi government for a decisive victory.

The strategy that is being carried out has profited from the insights of strategic thinkers, civilian and military, inside and outside of government, who have reflected on our experience and on insurgencies in other periods of history.

We know what we must do. With our Iraqi allies, we are working to:

Clear the toughest places – no sanctuaries to the enemy – and to disrupt foreign support for the insurgents.

We are working to hold and steadily enlarge the secure areas, integrating political and economic outreach with our military operations

We are working to build truly national institutions by working with more capable provincial and local authorities. We are challenging them to embody a national compact – not tools of a particular sect or ethnic group. These Iraqi institutions must sustain security forces, bring rule of law, visibly deliver essential services, and offer the Iraqi people hope for a better economic future.

None of these elements, as you have said, Mr. Chairman, can be achieved by military action alone. None are purely civilian either. This requires an integrated civil-military partnership. And let me briefly review that partnership.

Clear the toughest places -- no sanctuaries. As we enlarge security in major urban areas and as insurgents retreat, they should find no large area where they can reorganize and operate freely. Recently our forces have gone on the offensive. In Tall Afar, near the Syrian border, and in the west along the Euphrates valley in places like Al Qaim, Haditha, and Hit, American and Iraqi forces are clearing away insurgents.

As one terrorist wrote to another: "[I]f the government extends its control over the country, we will have to pack our bags and break camp."

Syria and Iran allow fighters and military assistance to reach insurgents in Iraq. In the case of Syria, we are concerned about cross-border infiltration, about unconstrained travel networks, and about the suspicious young men who are being waved through Damascus International Airport.

As a part of our strategy, we have taken military steps, as with our offensive in Tal Afar, to cut off the flow of people or supplies near that border. And we are also taking new diplomatic steps to convey the seriousness of our concerns. Syria and indeed Iran must decide whether they wish to side with the cause of war or with the cause of peace.

Secondly, to hold and enlarge secure areas. In the past our problem was that once an area was clear militarily, the Iraqi security forces were unable to hold it. Now, Iraqi units are more capable.

In August 2004, five Iraqi regular army battalions were in combat. Today, 91 Iraqi regular army battalions are in combat.
A year ago, no American advisors were embedded with these battalions. Now all of these battalions have American advisors.

With more capable Iraqi forces, we can implement this element of the strategy, holding secure areas – neighborhood by neighborhood. And this process has already begun.

Compare the situation a year ago in places like Haifa Street in Baghdad, or Baghdad’s Sadr City, or downtown Mosul, or Najaf, or Fallujah, with the situation today.

Security along the once notorious airport road in Baghdad has measurably improved. Najaf, where American forces fought a major battle last year, is now entirely under independent Iraqi military control.

As this strategy is being implemented, the military side recedes and the civilian part – like police stations and civic leaders and economic development -- move into the foreground. Our transition strategy emphasized the building of the Iraqi army. Now our police training efforts are receiving new levels of attention.

Third, we must build truly national institutions. The institutions of Saddam Hussein’s government were violent and corrupt, tearing apart the ties that ordinarily bind communities together. The last two years have seen three temporary governments govern Iraq, making it extremely difficult to build national institutions even under the best of circumstances. The new government that will come can finally set down real roots.

To be effective, that government must bridge sects and ethnic groups. And its institutions must not become the tools of a particular sect or group.

Let me assure you, the United States will not try to pick winners. We will support parties and politicians in every community who are dedicated to peaceful participation in the future of a democratic Iraq.

The national institutions must also sustain the security forces and bring rule of law to Iraq.

The national institutions must also visibly deliver essential services. Thanks to you and other members of Congress, the United States has already invested billions of dollars to keep electricity and fuel flowing across Iraq. In the transition phase, we concentrated on capital investment, adding capacity to a system that had deteriorated to the point of collapse. But, with freedom, the demand for electricity has gone up by 50% and the capability we have added is not being fully utilized because of constant insurgent attacks. We are with the Iraqis developing new ways to add security to this battered but vital system. And the Iraqis must reform their energy policies and pricing in order to make the system sustainable.

The national institutions must also offer the Iraqi people hope for a better economic future.

Millions of farmers, small businessmen, and investors need a government that encourages growth rather than fostering dependence on handouts from the ruler. The government, the next government, will need to make some difficult but necessary decisions about economic reform.

In sum, we and the Iraqis must seize the vital opportunity provided by the establishment of a permanent government.

Well, what is required?

First, Iraqis must continue to come together in order to build their nation. The state of Iraq was constructed across the fault lines of ancient civilizations, among Arabs and Kurds, Sunni and Shi’a, Muslims and Christians. No one can solve this problem for them. For years these differences were dealt with through violence and repression. Now Iraqis are using compromise and politics.

Second, the Iraqi Government must forge more effective partnerships with foreign governments, particularly in building their ministries and governmental capacity.

On our side of this partnership, the United States should sustain a maximum effort to help the Iraqi government succeed, tying it more clearly to our immediate political-military objectives.

On Iraq’s side, the government must show us and other assisting countries that critical funds are being well spent – whatever their source. They must show commitment to the professionalization of their government and bureaucracy. And they must demonstrate the willingness to take tough decisions.

Third, Iraq must forge stronger partnerships with the international community beyond the United States.

The Iraqis have made it clear that they want the multinational military coalition to remain. Among many contributors, the soldiers and civilians of the United Kingdom deserve special gratitude for their resolve, their skill, and their sacrifices.

Now the military support from the coalition must be matched by diplomatic, economic, and political support from the entire international community. Earlier this year, in Brussels and Amman, scores of nations gathered to offer more support. NATO has opened a training mission near Baghdad. And now, as Iraq chooses a permanent, constitutional government, it is time for Iraq’s neighbors to do more to help.

The major oil producing states of the Gulf have gained tens of billions of dollars of additional revenue from rising oil prices. They are considering how to invest these gains for the future.

These governments must be partners in shaping the region’s future.

We understand that across the region, there are needs and multilateral programs in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well as Iraq. Rather than consider them in a disjointed way, they together form part of a broad regional effort in transforming the Arab and Muslim world. We hope the governments of the region, as well as others in Europe and Asia, will examine these needs and then invest decisively, on an unprecedented scale, to become continuing stakeholders in the future of Iraq and of the region.

Finally, the U.S. Government must deepen and strengthen the integration of our civilian and military activities.

At the top in Iraq, we have established an effective partnership between the Embassy and Ambassador Khalilzad on the one hand, and the Multinational Forces command and General Casey on the other.

To be sure, civilian agencies have already made an enormous effort. Hundreds of civilian employees and contractors have lost their lives in Iraq. But more can be done to mobilize the civilian agencies of our government, especially to get more people in the field, outside of Baghdad’s International Zone, to follow up when the fighting stops.

We will embed our diplomats, police trainers, and aid workers more fully on military bases, traveling with our soldiers and marines.

To execute our strategy we will restructure a portion of the U.S. mission in Iraq. Learning from successful precedents used in Afghanistan, we will deploy Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in key parts of the country. These will be civil-military teams, working in concert with each of the major subordinate commands, training police, setting up courts, and helping local governments with essential services like sewage treatment or irrigation. The first of these new PRTs will take the field next month.

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, to succeed, we need most your help and your support, and that of the American people. We seek support across the aisle, from both Democrats and Republicans.

And I know that we all, as Americans, know the importance of success in this mission. It is hard. It is hard to imagine decisive victory when violent men continue their attacks on Iraqi civilians and security forces and on American and coalition soldiers and marines. And we honor the sacrifice because every individual has life stories and friends and families – and incalculable sorrow that has been left behind.

But of course, there is a great deal at stake. A free Iraq will be at the heart of a different kind of Middle East. We must defeat the ideology of hatred, the ideology that forms the roots of the extremist threat that we face. Iraq’s struggle – the region’s struggle – is to show that there is a better way, a freer way, to lasting peace.

- Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Opening Remarks Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, October 19, 2005

source:  http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/55303.htm

Asked pointedly whether the United States would still have troops in Iraq five or 10 years from now, Rice said, "I think that even to try and speculate on how many years from now there will be a certain number of American forces is not appropriate.

"I don't know how to speculate about what will happen 10 years from now, but I do believe that we are moving on a course on which Iraqi security forces are rather rapidly able to take care of their own security concerns."

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/19/iraq.rice/index.html

2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.

FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome, Secretary Rice. We always appreciate your presence here. And I will join the chorus and say we really do hope it will be more often.

The title of this hearing is "Iraq and U.S. Foreign Policy." And that strikes me as a good start because we need to make sure that our Iraq policy is advancing our foreign policy and national security goals, not obstructing them as it seems to me to be the case currently.

The administration continues to speak about staying the course in Iraq with the apparent end goal being elimination of the current insurgency and establishment of a peaceful democratic state. And, obviously, that is a laudable ambition but it is not and it can not be the basis for our foreign policy or national security strategy.

I feel that our current, largely single-minded and somewhat self- defeating focus in Iraq is causing us to overlook what should be our most fundamental goal. And that fundamental goal is combating the global terrorist networks that continue to threaten the United States.

It's time to think about whether our military presence in Iraq is consistent with that goal. Increasing numbers of military experts are coming to the view that it is not, as is the American public.

It's becoming increasingly clear that we have actually created a breeding ground for terrorism in Iraq and that the indefinite presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops is often actually fueling, fueling not dampening the insurgency.

Now, obviously, that is not the fault of the brave men and women in uniform who are serving our country. It's the fault of the people who sent them to Iraq without a clear idea of what their mission was and how long it would take.

I give credit to the courageous senator from Ohio, Senator Voinovich, for reading that letter from that family member.

Madam Secretary, we owe our service members some clarity in leadership. And we owe this country some serious thinking about how we can get our Iraq policy on track, on track so that it helps rather than hinders us in the broader fight against terrorism.

And in that regard, Madam Secretary, I want to return to this subject that Senator Biden and Senator Kerry were talking about which has to do with whether to withdraw the troops, should we start withdrawing the troops?

I want to hone it more to the issue of whether it would be a good idea to have a public flexible timetable that we would suggest to finish the mission, achieve our goals and bring the troops home.

Notice I said a flexible timetable not a drop-dead date, not a deadline, not cut and run.

So that's what my questions are about. And it's interesting that Senator Kerry quoted a very Republican, former Wisconsin congressman who was defense secretary under Richard Nixon, Melvin Laird.

Let me quote something else from that same article that Senator Kerry mentioned. Melvin Laird said, "We owe it to the rest of the people back home to let them know that there is an exit strategy. And more important, we owe it to the Iraqi people. Our presence is what feeds the insurgency. And our gradual withdrawal would feed the confidence and the ability of average Iraqis to stand up to the insurgents."

I'd like your reaction to Melvin Laird's remarks.

RICE: Well, Senator, I simply don't agree that it is our presence that is feeding the insurgency. I think that the insurgents have a couple of aims. One is to -- for some of them, is to return to a day when high-ranking Baathists were in power who repressed by force Shia and Kurds, and, by the way, a fair number of Sunnis, too, who were in political opposition.

That's one goal for some of them.

For others -- and that means, yes, the fact that we liberated Iraq is an irritant, from their point of view because they have a different view.

RICE: They would prefer the Iraq that we were dealing with under Saddam Hussein.

For the Zarqawi element of this, however, I would return to what Senator Voinovich said. These people were not just pacific people somewhere sitting around and then we liberated Iraq and they decided there was a jihad to fight. This jihad -- this violent extremist ideology has been developing in the heart of the Middle East out of the absence of freedom and the absence of hope for a very long time.

It reached its full bloom -- after several initial starts, it reached its full bloom on September 11th when they flew those airplanes into those buildings.

Now, we are fighting the global war on terrorism because, of course, we are tracking down and fighting the Al Qaida network. And I was just in Afghanistan, which used to be their home base, and is now...

FEINGOLD: Well, Madam Secretary, this doesn't track with my question.

My question was about the relationship between our presence in Iraq, our military presence, and the insurgency.

And I want to tell you something, because this isn't just armchair people here in the United States. I was in Iraq in February and I asked our military commanders the nature of the insurgency.

At the time, they told me, as you were suggesting, a significant or major role of foreign insurgents being the ones that were blowing themselves up and that at that point those who conducted some of those kinds of attacks were less likely to be Iraqis. This has changed. Your own people have told us that this is now changed.

And what the point here is, is that the way we are doing this is actually playing into the hands of the insurgents.

I asked one of the top commanders in Iraq, I said, What would happen if we suggested to the world that there is a time frame during which we will try to achieve this? His response to me, which of course was off the record, was: Senator, nothing would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgents more than providing a clear public plan and time frame for a remaining U.S. mission.

So what I want to know is, not the general statements about how we're fighting the war against terrorism, which of course we all agree on: Why does the administration continue to refuse even a flexible time table for how long U.S. troops are likely to be in Iraq?

RICE: Senator, we'd like our discussions of withdrawal and of bringing down the numbers of forces to be results-based rather than time-based.

And I think that in terms of results, we know exactly what we want to achieve. We want Iraqi security forces that can hold their territory, where insurgents can't leave a city and then come back and terrorize the population. That's one of the things that we need to stay and...

FEINGOLD: But let me suggest on that point, Madam Secretary, with all respect, that I think one of the reasons you see that happening is that it's very credible for insurgents, for terrorists outside of Iraq, terrorists within Iraq, to convince people who are desperate that we're there to stay.

You know, the president himself in one of his speeches said recently he didn't support necessarily putting more troops into Iraq for fear that people would think we were going to stay there forever.

Now, doesn't that same logic apply to the issue of a public time table?

I think the analysis actually is the reverse. The more you don't suggest that the so-called American occupation is going to end, the easier it is for them to recruit the insurgents.

RICE: Senator, we've been very clear that we want to -- that we don't want to stay. That's a different matter than giving a time table for when we think we will leave.

I have no doubt that as the Iraqi security forces get better, and they are getting better and they are holding territory and they are doing these things with minimal help, that we are going to be able to bring down the levels of our forces. And I have no doubt that that's going to happen in a reasonable time frame.

The problem is, Senator, that if you start making the issue when you will leave rather than what you have achieved, then you focus the insurgency and everybody else on when you will leave.

RICE: If you focus this on what you will achieve and recognize that you want to do that within a reasonable time frame -- because we don't want to stay, we've been very clear that we don't want to stay...

FEINGOLD: But you see, Madam Secretary, that's what undercuts our credibility. People naturally are a little bit suspicious of a country that invades another country. That's a reasonable thing, to be suspicious. We have good intentions.

But to the extent we don't suggest a vision, a scenario of when we might achieve these goals and when we might leave, naturally people become suspicious. They wonder if we're not there for some other reason. And you've heard the reasons -- oil or domination of the Middle East.

I believe that this logic that the administration has is the actual opposite of what would be most likely to take the wind out of the sails of the insurgents.

And I've got to tell you, Madam Secretary, you and the president are in an ever narrowing group of people who believe that this logic is correct. Experts around the world, military experts, people I talk to in Iraq, experts here -- just about everyone agrees, including Melvin Laird, that our approach without talking about a public time table is feeding the insurgency.

RICE: I understand your view of this, Senator.

In talking with the Iraqi government, which after all has probably most at stake here, the issue for them has been to have a joint committee that looks at conditions based down withdrawal.

FEINGOLD: Then why did President Talabani suggest that there is a scenario of when we can bring the troops back?

RICE: Well, I think...

FEINGOLD: He specifically talked about a time frame.

RICE: Well, I think that the Iraqi government, the ministry of defense, the prime minister and others are engaged in a process that allows us to know when we have achieved what we need to achieve.

You do not want American forces to leave and then find out that Iraqi forces are incapable of holding their own territory. That's a mistake we have made in the past.

FEINGOLD: Well, Mr. Chairman, the American people are for a vision of when we can finish this, the Iraqi people are for it, the Iraqi leaders are, our generals in Iraq, when they're allowed to talk about this, are. There are very few left who believe that we should have a secret strategy that does not indicate when we can finish this.

But I do thank you, Madam Secretary.

RICE: Thank you, Senator.

May I just say I don't think we have a secret strategy, Senator; what we have is a strategy that will be based on results. That's the issue.

source:  http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1020-30.htm


You defeat an insurgency politically as well as militarily. It will take time. As the Iraqi security forces are better, they will have a role. But the Iraqi people are casting their lot with the political process, and that will sap the energy from this insurgency because an insurgency cannot ultimately survive without a political base.

...

 ... when the American people see every day what they see on their screens, which is violence and, of course, the deaths of Americans and coalition forces, it's very difficult to take. We mourn every sacrifice. But the fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al-Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al-Qaeda and perhaps after the Taliban and then our work would be done and we would try to defend ourselves.

Or we could take a bolder approach, which was to say that we had to go after the root causes of the kind of terrorism that was produced there, and that meant a different kind of Middle East. And there is no one who could have imagined a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein still in power. I know it's difficult, but we have ahead of us the prospect, and I think the very good prospect of a foundation for a democratic and prosperous Iraq that can solve its differences by politics and compromise, that becomes an anchor for a Middle East that is changing.

If you look at Lebanon and you look at the Palestinian territories and you look at what is going on in Egypt, this is a Middle East that is in transformation to something far better than we have experienced for the last 60 years when we thought that we could ignore democracy and get stability and, in fact, we got neither. So yes, it's long, and yes, it's hard, but if we quit now, we are not only going to condemn generations of people of the Middle East to despair, we are going to condemn generations of Americans to continued fear and insecurity.

- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, MSNBC's Meet the Press, October 16, 2005

source:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9684807/


The terrorists know their only chance for success is to break our will and force us to retreat. The al Qaeda letter points to Vietnam as a model. Zawahiri says: "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam, and how they ran and left their agents, is noteworthy." Al Qaeda believes that America can be made to run again. They are gravely mistaken. America will not run, and we will not forget our responsibilities.

In Iraq, we have brought down a murderous regime. We have stood by the Iraqi people through two elections, and we will stand by them until they have established a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. When we do, Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror and a partner for peace and moderation in the Muslim world. And because America stood firm in this important fight, our children and grandchildren will be safer and more secure.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, October 15, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051015.html


One of the tactics of the enemy is to shake our will. Part of their strategy is to use the killing of innocent people to get the American government to pull you out of there before the mission is complete. I'm going to assure you of this, that so long as I'm the President, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory. It's important for you to know that; it's important for the enemy to know that, as well.

We got a strategy, and it's a clear strategy. On the one hand, we will hunt down these killers and terrorists and bring them to justice, and train the Iraqi forces to join us in that effort.

The second part of the strategy is a political strategy, based upon the knowledge that you defeat a backward, dark philosophy with one that's hopeful. And that hopeful philosophy is one based upon universal freedom. I'm very impressed that the Iraqi government has continued to work to have a constitution that attracts Sunnis and Shias and Kurds. They've worked hard to get a constitution, and now the people of Iraq are going to get to vote once again, on a constitution, in this case.

And I want to thank you for providing the security necessary for people to exercise their free will. You're part of an historic mission that is laying the foundation for peace. I am convinced that when we look back at this time in history, those who follow us -- whether it be in the armed services or in the political process -- will say, thank goodness the United States of America didn't lose our nerve or will; that we've put in motion something that can't be stopped, and that is the march of freedom.

- George W. Bush, President Addresses U.S. Troops in Iraq in Video Teleconference, October 13, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051013.html


It could take 10 years for Iraq to become stable, Jack Straw said yesterday, raising the prospect of prolonged British involvement in the country.

Although the foreign secretary did not say how long he expected British troops to stay there, the government has consistently said the UK would not pull out while instability continued.

Mr Straw said only that he hoped troops would be able to withdraw "in a matter of a very limited number of years".

In July a leaked memo by John Reid, the defence secretary, suggested more than half of the British soldiers in Iraq would leave by the middle of next year.
Mr Reid said at the time, however, that troops would stay "as long as necessary" - something Mr Straw's latest comments suggest may be some time.

Speaking on BBC2's Newsnight, Mr Straw said: "I am optimistic about Iraq. I think in five to 10 years we will see it becoming stable.

"I think if you compare nation-building in other situations - after the war in Europe, building up stable nations from the collapse of the Soviet Union ... look at Afghanistan - I think that's a reasonable prospect.

"One of the things that makes me optimistic about what has been a very bloody situation over the past two and a half years is the determination of Iraqis to follow the timetable set by the United Nations for the major milestones toward setting up their own government and constitutional apparatus."

Mr Straw was speaking during a television debate in which he was confronted by the parents of British servicemen killed in Iraq, who demanded the immediate withdrawal of UK troops.

The foreign secretary insisted that, assuming the United Nations mandate for the deployment is renewed at the end of this year, British troops would remain in Iraq until local authorities were ready to take over responsibility for security.

A representative of an Iraqi political party warned Mr Straw of the danger of giving the Iraqi government the power to decide how long British troops should stay.

Fareed Sabri, of the Iraq Islamic party, suggested the Baghdad government would like British troops to remain in order to fight its battles for it.

"If you put it in the hands of the government, they will ask you to stay there for 20 years, because they want you to fight other sections of Iraqi society," he told Mr Straw.

The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, said Mr Straw's comments suggested the government had "no credible exit strategy".

He said: "Between them, the prime minister and the foreign secretary have acknowledged that Britain's commitment to Iraq could last for up to 10 years.

"None of this was ever put before parliament or the British people in March 2003, when military action commenced. This simply serves to underline that there is no credible exit strategy in place."

A poll for Newsnight found that almost one-third (31%) of those questioned wanted immediate withdrawal of UK troops. A further 23% said that while troops should not be pulled out now, a firm date for their departure should be set - something Mr Straw ruled out. Only 40% backed Mr Straw's position.

Sue Smith, the mother of Private Phillip Hewitt of the Staffordshire Regiment, who was killed by a roadside bomb on July 16, told Mr Straw: "I think the troops should withdraw because we are just seeing more people killed, even Iraqi people killing their own people. How can we be helping?

"Democracy is created from within. You don't just walk in and say, 'There's your democracy.' It took centuries in England.

"We have opened a can of worms in Iraq. They don't know what to do, so they are stalling."

Mrs Smith was backed by Reg Keys, who said his son - who died in Iraq in July 2003 - ended up regarding his work training Iraqi policemen as a waste of time because their primary loyalties were to their tribe and religious leaders and not to the state.

Mr Straw said the British deployment in Iraq was "open ended", so long as its mandate was renewed and the Iraqi authorities still wanted the troops to stay.

Newsnight's poll found just a third (33%) of those questioned thought that military action in Iraq was a good idea, against 57% who thought it was "the wrong thing to do".

Almost three-quarters (73%) thought the war had made terrorist attacks in the UK more likely, compared with 22% who said it had made no difference and 2% that it had made terrorism in Britain less likely.

Asked when they thought Iraq would be a stable democracy, more than a quarter (27%) of those polled said never, 17% said it would take more than 10 years, 25% said it would take between three and 10 years and 11% said some time in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, US intelligence yesterday released a letter it said was addressed to the Iraqi militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is thought to be Osama bin Laden's second in command.

The letter sets out al-Qaida's strategy for establishing an Islamist state in Iraq after the withdrawal of US troops.

ICM Research questioned 1,024 adults for Newsnight between October 7 and 9

- "Straw predicts years of instability in Iraq",  by Sean Clarke and agencies, Thursday October 13, 2005

source:  http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12956,1591292,00.html


Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a great turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day, and continues to this hour: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.

...

They [terrorists] target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory.

...

Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded -- but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.

...

... we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. For this reason, we're fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. For this reason, we're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. And for this reason, we're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power -- and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces, and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning. Within these areas, we're working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. And we're aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence. This work involves great risk for Iraqis, and for Americans and coalition forces. Wars are not won without sacrifice -- and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve.

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced. They're unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity, or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years. With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces. Progress isn't easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom. We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that's the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who you disagree -- who disagree, building consensus by persuasion, and answering to the will of the people. We've heard it said that the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country. It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq -- but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower; it is a healthy, sturdy tree.

As Americans, we believe that people everywhere -- everywhere -- prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all. And so we're confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.

Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources? Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence.

There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy, October 6, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051006-3.html


Now terrorists are making a stand in Iraq, testing our resolve and trying to shake our commitment to democracy in that part of the world. There is still difficult work ahead, because the terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against the civilized world.

...

As President Bush has said, the only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission. But this nation has made a decision: We will stand by our friends; we will help Iraqis build a nation that is free and secure and able to defend itself; we will confront our enemies on this and every other front in the war on terror; and with good allies at our side, we will prevail.

Last week, General Abizaid came back to Washington and presented a detailed briefing on the war on terror, particularly the situation in Iraq. Our own strategy for victory in the conflict remains clear: We are hunting down high-value targets like Zarqawi and his lieutenants, and last week Iraqi and coalition forces tracked down and killed Abu Azzam, the second most-wanted al Qaeda leader in Iraq. Our soldiers and Marines are conducting smart, focused, aggressive, counterterrorism operations in the areas where the terrorists are known to be concentrated. And our coalition continues to train more Iraqi forces to assume increasing new responsibility for their country's security. As more and more Iraqi security forces complete their training, they are taking on greater responsibilities in these efforts. Iraqi troops are increasingly taking the lead in joint operations, conducting independent operations and expanding the reach and the effectiveness of coalition forces.

As Iraqi security forces grow in their size and capabilities, we're becoming better able to keep urban centers out of the hands of terrorists. One of the challenges we faced was that after clearing out terrorists, there weren't always enough trained Iraqi forces to maintain control. So when coalition forces moved on, terrorists would move to get back in. More and more, however, we're able to leave Iraqi troops in charge, and because they're equipped, properly trained, familiar with the territory, and often know who the terrorists are, these Iraqi units are able to maintain order and safety. Meanwhile, coalition forces are able to go forward and deal with terrorists in other parts of the country, as well as control the borders.

At present, Iraqi forces are in control of more parts of Iraq than at any time in the past two years. Significant areas of Baghdad and Mosul -- once violent and volatile -- are now more stable because Iraqi forces are helping keep the peace. In these and other areas, Iraqi personnel are collecting good intelligence, working with civic and religious leaders, and gaining greater confidence among the people. This is an ongoing process, and standing up a capable, effective military force requires a patient and sustained effort. Yet progress is steady, it is moving in the direction we want, and the people in charge of the effort are doing a superb job. The goal we share with Iraq's government and the Iraqi people is a full transition to security and self-reliance, a nation with a constitutionally elected government and capable security forces, an Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors and can be an ally in the war on terror.

By staying in this fight, we honor both the ideals and the security interests of the United States. The victory of freedom in Iraq will inspire democratic reformers in other lands. In the broader Middle East and beyond, America will continue to encourage free markets, democracy, and tolerance, because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuits of peace. And as the peoples of that region experience new hope, progress, and control over their own destiny, we will see the power of freedom to change our world, and a terrible threat will be removed from the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

Like other great duties in history, it will require decades of patient effort, and it will be resisted by those whose only hope for power is through the spread of violence.

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Vice President's Remarks at the Association of the United States Army Sustaining Members Luncheon, October 5, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051005-3.html


Now they [terrorists] are making a stand in Iraq, testing our resolve, and trying to shake our commitment to democracy in that country. If the terrorists were to succeed, they would return Iraq to the rule of tyrants, make it a source of instability in the Middle East, and use it as a staging area for ever greater attacks against America and other civilized nations. As President Bush has said, the only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission. But this nation has made a decision: We will stand by our friends. We will help Iraqis build a nation that is free and secure, able to defend itself. We will confront our enemies on this and every other front in the war on terror. With good allies at our side, we will prevail, we will destroy the enemy.

The progress we've seen in Iraq has been superb, and we can be confident going forward because the Iraqi people value their own liberty and are determined to choose their own destiny. And by staying in this fight, we honor both the ideals and the security interests of the United States. The victory of freedom in Iraq will inspire democratic reformers in other lands. In the broader Middle East and beyond, America will continue to encourage free markets, democracy, and tolerance, because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to the pursuits of peace. And as the peoples of that region experience new hope, progress, and control over their own destiny, we will see the power of freedom change to our world, and a terrible threat will be removed from the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

...

The loss to our country is irreplaceable, and no one can take away the sorrow that has come to the families of the fallen. We can only say, with complete certainty, that these Americans served in a noble and necessary cause, and their sacrifice has made our nation and the world more secure. We will honor their memory forever, and we will honor their sacrifice by completing the mission.

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, Remarks to the Marines at Camp Lejeune, October 3, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051003-4.html


This week I met with the generals who are overseeing our efforts in Iraq -- Generals Abizaid and Casey -- to discuss our strategy for victory. They updated me on the operations in Baghdad last weekend in which Iraqi and coalition forces tracked down and killed the second most wanted al Qaeda leader in Iraq. This brutal killer was a top lieutenant of the terrorist Zarqawi. He was also one of the terrorists responsible for the recent wave of attacks in the Iraqi capital, which is part of the terrorist campaign to halt political progress in Iraq, by stopping this month's referendum on the Iraqi constitution.

Our strategy in Iraq is clear: We're hunting down deadly terrorist leaders. We're conducting aggressive counterterrorism operations in the areas where the terrorists are concentrated. We are constantly adapting our tactics to the changing tactics of the terrorists, and we're training more Iraqi forces to assume increasing responsibility for their country's security.

The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition address a challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war. It used to be that after we cleared the terrorists out of a city there were not enough qualified Iraqi troops to maintain control, so if we left to conduct missions in other areas of Iraq, the terrorists would try to move back in. Now the increasing number of more capable Iraqi troops has allowed us to keep a better hold on the cities we have taken from the terrorists. The Iraqi troops know their people and their language, and they know who the terrorists are. By leaving Iraqi units in the cities we have cleared out, we can keep those cities safe, while moving on to hunt down the terrorists in other parts of the country.

We used this approach recently in Iraq's northwest region where Iraqi and coalition forces targeted an area that was one of the main routes for foreign terrorists entering Iraq from Syria. During operations in the key town of Tal Afar, Iraqi security forces outnumbered coalition forces for the first time in a major offensive operation. Because of our joint efforts, hundreds of insurgents and terrorists have been killed, or captured, or flushed out, and our continued efforts will make it more difficult for foreign terrorists to enter Iraq.

As part of our strategy, Iraqi forces have stayed behind in Tal Afar to ensure that the terrorists cannot return and regroup. And coalition and Iraqi troops are pursuing the terrorists in western Iraq, working to deny al Qaeda a safe haven there, and to stop terrorists from crossing into the country through Syria.

I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country, and our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are serving with increasing effectiveness. In fact, this week coalition forces were able to turn over security responsibility for one of Iraq's largest cities, Karbala, to Iraqi soldiers. As Iraqi forces show they're capable of fighting the terrorists, they are earning the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people, which will ensure the success of a free and democratic Iraq.

More difficult and dangerous work still lies ahead. The terrorists have a history of escalating their attacks before Iraq's major political milestones, and two elections are fast approaching. In two weeks, Iraqis will vote on a democratic constitution, and if that constitution is approved, they will return to the polls later this year to elect a fully constitutional government.

As Iraqis take these next steps on the path to freedom and democracy, the terrorists will do everything they can to stop this progress and try to break our will. They will fail. Defeating the terrorists in Iraq will require more time and more sacrifice. Yet all Americans can have confidence in the military commanders who are leading the effort in Iraq, and in the troops under their command. They have made important gains in recent weeks and months; they are adapting our strategy to meet the needs on the ground; and they're helping us to bring victory in the war on terror.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, October 1, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051001.html


The choice we face in Iraq is, thus, stark. If we quit now, we will abandon Iraq’s democrats at their time of greatest need. We will embolden every enemy of liberty and democracy across the Middle East. We will destroy any chance that the people of this region have of building a future of hope and opportunity. And we will make America more vulnerable. If we abandon future generations in the Middle East to despair and terror, we also condemn future generations in the United States to insecurity and fear.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Princeton University, New Jersey, September 30, 2005

source:  http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/54176.htm


These would be awkward questions for them to answer, indeed, because by every one of those measurements, the enemy is losing. Though the transition of Afghan [sic] and Iraq from tyranny to democracy has been and remains violent, we know the importance of seeing this effort through, and we're seeing the progress that has come with patience, the patience, the adaptability, the resilience and the grit of our armed forces.

- Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Press Briefing, September 30, 2005

We're in a tough fight in Iraq, but our country has been in tough fights before to advance the cause of democracy and to protect our way of life.  We should not be afraid of this one.  We and the Iraqi people will prevail in this battle of wills if we don't lose ours.  We continue to make progress every day in Iraq.  Some days the steps we take are smaller than others, but we are more relentless in our progress than those who are trying to disrupt it.  We have a strategy and a plan for success in Iraq, and we are broadly on track in achieving our goals.  Make no mistake about it, it's hard work, it's a challenging environment, but we have the best of America and coalition countries, military and civilian, committed to defeating terrorism and tyranny in Iraq, so that we can all live safer. 

...

There is not a specific number out there of Iraqi units that have to be capable before we start reducing coalition forces. What I tried to explain is that condition-based reductions in coalition forces is part of our overall counterinsurgency strategy and it will take place in varying places around the country as these Iraqi units -- brigades, primarily -- take over pieces of Iraq. So we're not saying we have to get to a hundred level ones before we can start reducing U.S. troops. That's not the plan.

- General George Casey, Press Briefing, September 30, 2005

...

Q: Mr. Secretary, may I ask General Casey a question? I'm not chasing rabbits here.  General, you backpedaled somewhat from your statement when the secretary was in your backyard some months ago, about when a substantial number of U.S. troops could possibly withdraw. But it seems to me that an equally important question than what we're discussing now is how long will U.S. forces be needed in Iraq embedded with Iraqi units? You said yesterday that it was important to have the embedding continue.

GEN. CASEY: Yeah, I can't put a timeline on that --

Q: Months? Years?

GEN. CASEY: It's, I think, a couple of years for sure. And it will all be based on their progression.

Can I go back to backpedaling?

Everybody -- as I said yesterday, any time you make --

SEC. RUMSFELD: You don't have to take his bait! (Laughter.)

Q: I learned from you, Mr. Secretary! (Laughter.)

GEN. CASEY: Any time you make predictions, you make it based on assumptions. And I said there were two critical assumptions that would drive that process: That the political process continued satisfactorily and the development of the security forces continued. Now, this constitution has come out, and it didn't come out as a national compact that we thought it was going to be, and there's a little division there. It's not a bad constitution, but there's a little divisiveness because of that, and that caused the situation to change just a little bit. But as I said just a second ago, condition-based reductions of coalition forces is still very much a part of our overall counterinsurgency strategy. And I was asked yesterday on the Hill, did I expect that to happen in '06, and I said yeah, I do.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Let's go back to the embedding question, Ivan. One size doesn't fit all. We may end up, at the request of the new Iraqi government, of having some embeds in their Ministry of Defense for some period of time. That does not mean you would have embeds in a platoon or a company or even a battalion. You know, you just -- you don't know. You see how it evolves. And the visibility we've gotten -- our folks have gotten into their circumstance so that we could rapidly fix their -- help them get better equipment, help them get better leadership, and help them connect with each other better, has made an enormous difference in their effectiveness.

...

Q: Mr. Secretary, how -- or I'm sorry, General Casey, how is it that Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq has replaced the insurgency as the most immediate threat, according to your own intelligence officer now in Iraq?

GEN. CASEY: If you look at the levels of violence that they are responsible for in Iraq and the number of Iraqi casualties that they are producing, and their attempts to foment sectarian violence -- I mean, you saw Balad yesterday, Hillah today, the 14 September attacks -- I mean, those were day laborers; guys standing in line to try to get a job for their families, and they crashed in there. The declaration of war against the Shi'a. They are the ones that are threatening not only our border in Iraq, but they are the ones that also, I believe, are generating the car bombs and the high casualties that are affecting our coalition publics. And so, as we looked at this, we said we need to defeat these guys in the next six to 12 months, restore Iraqi control over the borders, keep them from bringing in the suicide bombers and the foreign fighters, so that after these elections the Iraqis have the opportunity to deal with the former regime elements, which are still a threat and probably generate numerically more attacks over the course of the day; but they're not effective attacks, not the things that are producing mass casualties. But they also are the ones that can be brought into the political process. Al Qaeda in Iraq is not ever going to enter the political process in Iraq. They've got to be defeated, and they will be. ... If I can just finish up on one thing. This has also given us an opportunity -- the 14th of September attacks and the declaration of war against the Shi'a -- because the Iraqis spoke out against that and they are becoming clearer and clearer that they don't want Zarqawi in Iraq. And Iraq's not going to be safe until all Iraqis stop protecting terrorists.

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050930-secdef4002.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. general in Iraq on Wednesday cast doubt on his previous forecasts of a substantial cut in American forces in 2006, saying Iraq was in a period of heightened uncertainty that made it "too soon to tell" if troops can be brought home.

In March and again in July, Army Gen. George Casey, who commands the 147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, predicted a "fairly substantial" reduction in American forces next spring and summer if Iraq's political process goes positively and progress is made in developing Iraqi security forces. Pentagon officials said that meant a reduction of perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 troops.

After briefing U.S. lawmakers behind closed doors on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Casey was more cautious when asked whether the troop reduction was still possible.

"I think right now we're in a period of a little greater uncertainty than when I was asked that question back in July and March," Casey told reporters, noting that Iraqis vote on a draft constitution in an October 15 referendum and, if they endorse it, then elect a new government on December 15.

"This constitutional referendum and whether it is supported by the Sunnis to a large degree, I think, is something that we just have to watch to see how that comes out. So until we're done with this political process here, with the referendum and the elections in December, I think it's too soon to tell."

The draft constitution largely reflects the views of the Shi'ite Muslim majority and the Kurds leading the U.S.-backed Iraqi government rather than the minority Sunni Arabs who controlled Iraq under deposed President Saddam Hussein. Iraq's insurgency draws the bulk of its support from the Sunni Arab community.

'POSITIVE TRENDS'

"One of the most positive trends that we see across Iraq is the willingness of the Sunnis to participate in a political process. We have seen them registering in large numbers in all of the major Sunni provinces," Casey said.

Some Sunni political and religious leaders have urged Sunnis to register to vote in the referendum and plan to mount a "no" campaign with a view to defeating the constitution.

Casey was joined by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command, in separate briefings on the Iraq war to members of the Senate and House of Representatives. They appeared earlier in the day with President George W. Bush at the White House and were due to testify on Thursday before the Senate and House armed services committees.

"There was nothing that we heard today to suggest that we are coming out of Iraq soon," Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin told reporters. "There is no indication from the president or the leadership that they have a plan that will bring our troops home soon."

"And in terms of the capability of the Iraqis to fend for themselves, defend their country, there's been no clear indication from this administration that they have the stand-up capability to do that. And until that happens, there is no end in sight," Durbin added.

- "U.S. general casts doubt on 2006 troop cut in Iraq", By Will Dunham, September 28, 2005

source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050928/ts_nm/iraq_usa_troops_dc

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited


... I just had a good meeting with Generals Abizaid and Casey. We discussed the war on terror in which this country is engaged. General Abizaid talked about the global scope of this war. He talked about the nature of an enemy we face, an enemy which is ruthless and brutal, an enemy which has got strategic goals and tactics necessary to achieve those goals. We also talked about the fact that we're determined to defeat the enemy. We discussed our strategy for victory in Iraq, as well. After all, Iraq is a key battlefront in this war on terror.

I asked the Generals to go up to Capitol Hill to brief members of the House and Senate on our strategy for victory, on our operations in Iraq. They updated me on what recently took place in Baghdad, in which Iraqi and coalition forces tracked down and killed Abu Azzam, the second most wanted al Qaeda leader in Iraq. This guy is a brutal killer. He was one of Zarqawi's top lieutenants. He was reported to be the top operational commander of al Qaeda in Baghdad. He is one of the terrorists responsible for the recent upsurge in attacks in the Iraqi capital, which is part of their campaign to stop a referendum on the Iraqi constitution, and is part of their efforts to break the will of the American people and the will of our coalition.

Our strategy is clear in Iraq. We are hunting down high value targets like Azzam and Zarqawi. We're coordinating aggressive counterterrorism operations in the areas where the terrorists are concentrated. We're constantly adapting our tactics to the changing tactics of the terrorists. We're training more Iraqi forces to assume increasing responsibility for their country's security.

The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition address a challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war. And General Casey discussed this with us in the Oval Office.

See, it used to be after we cleared the terrorists out of a city, there wasn't enough qualified Iraqi troops to maintain control -- so when we left to conduct other missions, the terrorists would move back in. Now, the increasing number of more capable Iraqi troops has allowed us to better hold on to the cities we have taken from the terrorists. The Iraqi troops know their people, they know their language, and they know who the terrorists are. By leaving Iraqi units in the cities we've cleared out, we can keep the cities safe while we move on to hunt down the terrorists in other parts of the country.

We saw such success in the country's northwest region, where Iraqi and coalition forces recently targeted an area that was one of the main routes that foreign terrorists use to enter Iraq from Syria. During the operations in the key town of Tal Afar, Iraqi security forces outnumbered coalition forces for the first time in a major offensive operation. General Casey brought us up to date on that operation. Because of our joint efforts, hundreds of terrorists have been killed or captured or flushed, which makes it more difficult for the foreign terrorists to enter Iraq through the northwest route.

As part of General Casey's strategy, Iraqi forces remain in Tal Afar to ensure that the terrorists are not allowed to return and regroup. Coalition and Iraqi troops are on the hunt for terrorists in western Iraq. We're on the offense. We have a plan to win. We're working to stop those terrorists from crossing into the country through Syria, and we're denying safe haven to al Qaeda in the Anbar province.

Members of Congress will get the latest information about our strategy. And I want to thank them for taking time out of their schedules to listen to these two -- to these two Generals. They will hear about the strategy and the progress in increasing the size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. At this moment, more than a dozen Iraqi battalions have completed training and are conducting anti-terrorist operations in Ramadi and Fallujah. More than 20 battalions are operating in Baghdad. And some have taken the lead in operations in major sectors of the city.

In total, more than 100 battalions are operating throughout Iraq. Our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are operating with increasing effectiveness. As Iraqi forces show they're capable of keeping the terrorists out, they're earning the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people, which ensures the success of a free and democratic Iraq.

The terrorists have a history of escalating their attacks before Iraq's major political milestones. Two key elections are fast approaching. As these milestones approach, we can expect there to be increasing violence from the terrorists. They can't stand elections. The thought of people voting is an anathema to them. You see, democracy and freedom are the exact opposite of what's in their mind, in their vision.

Next month the Iraqis will vote on a democratic constitution. If that constitution is approved, they will return to polls later this year to elect a fully constitutional government. The terrorists will fail. See, the Iraqis want to be free. They proved that last January when over 8 million citizens, in the face of violence and threats, voted. And the terrorists are going to fail this time. But we can expect they'll do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom. And our troops are ready for it.

I urge the members of Congress to attend the briefings with Generals Abizaid and Casey. I urge them to ask questions about our efforts in Iraq and to listen carefully about the type of war we fight. The support of Congress for our troops and our mission is important, and Americans need to know about the gains we've made in recent weeks and months. They need to know the way we're adopting our tactics and the way we're changing our strategy to meet the needs on the ground.

As members of Congress speak with Generals Abizaid and Casey, I'm confident they'll see what I see -- our leaders, these two Generals are men of vision and determination, and it is their leadership that is helping bring victory in the war on terror.

-George W. Bush, President Meets with Generals Abizaid and Casey, Discusses War on Terror, September 28, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050928.html


GEN. MYERS: Right. It's more complex. It requires -- I think the modern security environment requires all instruments of national power, of which the military is one. But it doesn't mean that you don't have to be victorious. I think we were clearly victorious in Afghanistan. The United States military was victorious in Afghanistan. I'm speaking about my current term. I think we will be victorious and will help with victory in Iraq, but Iraq's going to be perhaps a longer-term issue. It's an insurgency that has to be dealt with probably over a longer period of time in which the political and economic instruments of power are going to play a major -- major role.

And then if you go to the long war -- and the long war is to get to the point where young men and women don't want to join jihad, that they have other opportunities, be they political or economic or combinations of those, the military will certainly have a role, but maybe not even the predominant role in the long war. But in the end, when victory is achieved -- and I believe we have to win, in a very traditional sense, the long war, the war against terrorism. It has to be won; otherwise, our future and our way of life is truly at stake. And the military will play a role in that. But it's a more complex battle space today.

But if you go back to World War II, I mean the military victory was one thing, and then we -- and then this country and the international community set about trying to establish a Europe and a Japan that were free and had democratic institutions and had economic viability. And so I don't think -- I think it's almost parallel.

- Gen. Richard Myers, Defense Department Briefing, September 27, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050927-secdef3981.html


Blair denies Iraq pull-out date
Tony Blair insists he will not set any "arbitrary date" for pulling British troops out of Iraq.
Any exit strategy "depends on the job being done", he told BBC's Sunday AM.

He was responding to an article in The Observer which claims ministers had privately told Japan of plans to start bringing forces home in May.

The prime minister also told Andrew Marr he had not expected the "ferocity" of resistance from Middle East elements following the invasion of Iraq.

Responding to the Observer article, the Ministry of Defence said the military pull-out would occur at different times across the country.

A spokesman said a handover would not happen until the Iraqi government could "take over counter terrorism".

He rejected claims that Japan - which also has soldiers in Iraq - had been given a private indication of an exit date from southern Iraq.

Meanwhile, a former air marshall, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Garden, told GMTV's Sunday programme that British troops should be pulled out of the country within about 12 months.

Any longer and he said the operation would "carry on drifting" - which, he said, highlighted the necessity of drawing up a "grand plan" for the country.

Withdrawal 'road map'

The Observer said detailed plans on troop withdrawal are being drawn up by UK, US and Iraqi officials and will be presented to the Iraqi parliament next month.

It quotes military sources as saying the document would lay out a detailed exit "road map" by multinational forces.

This could begin after nationwide elections in December, it says.

Each phase of withdrawal would only begin when stability had improved and it would be decided locally whether conditions were right to leave.

The Observer says British troops would initially remain but take a back seat after handing over responsibility for security to senior Iraqi officers.

The UK would only leave the country when Iraqis had demonstrated an ability to tackle violence, it says.

However, Lord Garden asked on GMTV's Sunday programme what the timetable for withdrawal should be,

'See job through'

Defence Secretary John Reid told the paper withdrawal from parts of Iraq could begin as early as next July.

However, he stressed this was not a deadline and could be altered if "circumstances change".

The MoD spokesman said Mr Reid had written to allies on many occasions to reaffirm Britain's determination to "see the job through".

"We will be staying in Iraq until the job is done and the job will be done when the Iraqi Government can takeover counter terrorism," he said.

"That will be the start of a process of handover which will occur at different times in different places around the country."

Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4279618.stm  Published: 2005/09/25 09:22:07 GMT

BBC MMV


Members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, stage an anti-war protest in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 24 2005.  (AP Photo/Samir Mizban)

Members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, stage an anti-war protest in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 24 2005.  (AP Photo/Samir Mizban)


As we work to help defeat the enemies of a democratic Afghanistan we're also working to defeat the enemies of a democratic Iraq. General Casey briefed us about a comprehensive strategy to achieve victory in Iraq. We're going to deny the terrorists a safe haven to plot their attacks. We'll continue to train more Iraqi forces to assume increasing responsibility for basic security operations. Our forces will focus on hunting down high-value targets like the terrorist, Zarqawi. We'll continue working with Iraqis to bring all communities into the political process. Together we'll help Iraq become a strong democracy that protects the rights of its people and is a key ally in the war on terror.

General Abizaid and General Casey extensively talked about how we're going to achieve this victory. The terrorists are concentrated in four of Iraq's 18 provinces. Over the last several months, terrorists have continued to launch suicide attacks and assassinate Iraqis who are working to improve their country. The number of attacks has increased, particularly in the last week, as the terrorists have begun their campaign to stop a referendum on the constitution.

See, they don't care who they kill; they just kill. They kill innocent people. They kill women. They kill children. They kill election workers. And they've had a history of this before. They've had a history of escalating their attacks before Iraq's major political milestones, like the handover of sovereignty in 2004, the free elections this past January, and the drafting of the constitution over the summer.

Recently, Zarqawi, the terrorist, the killer, has called for a total war on Shia Iraqis. His hope is to set off a civil war that will divide the country and derail its march to democracy. Today our commanders made it clear, as Iraqis prepare to vote on their constitution in October and elect a permanent government in December, we must be prepared for more violence.

To defeat the terrorists, we're constantly adapting to their changing tactics and conducting aggressive counterterrorism operations in the areas where they're concentrated. As more and more Iraqi security forces complete their training, they're taking on greater responsibilities in these efforts. Iraqi troops are increasingly taking the lead in joint operations. They're conducting independent operations and expanding the reach and effectiveness of American forces. The growing size and increasing capabilities of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition deal with a challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war. It used to be that after we cleared out a city, there were not enough qualified Iraqi troops to maintain control. And so what would happen is, is that the terrorists would wait for us to leave, and then they'd try to move back in. And sometimes, with success. Now the increasing number of more capable Iraqi troops has allowed us to hold on to the cities we have taken from the terrorists. The Iraqi troops know their people, they know their language, and they know who the terrorists are. By leaving Iraqi units in the cities we've cleaned out, we can keep the cities safe, while we move on to hunt down the terrorists in other parts of the country.

We saw the value of large and more capable Iraqi security forces in Najaf and Fallujah last year, when America and Iraqi forces conducted joint operations to clean out terrorist strongholds. We followed up these successful efforts by working with the Iraqi government to ensure that Iraqi forces were able to maintain law and order. We worked with local leaders to improve infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope. As a result, the people of Najaf and Fallujah are safer, and their cities are moving ahead with vital reconstruction. And that's part of our strategy to help develop a secure, safe democracy in Iraq.

We're seeking to repeat this success elsewhere in Iraq, most recently in the country's northwest region. This area was the main route of foreign terrorists entering Iraq from Syria and a major concern of coalition forces. During operations in the key town of Tal Afar, Iraqi security forces outnumbered U.S. forces for the first time in a major offensive operation. Our joint efforts killed, captured or flushed out hundreds of terrorists. As a part of General Casey's strategy, Iraqi forces remain in Tal Afar to ensure that the terrorists are not allowed to return, regroup and hold hostage the innocent residents of that city.

Thanks to these operations we're making it more difficult for foreign terrorists to enter through the northwest part of Iraq. Coalition and Iraqi troops are now focusing their efforts in western Iraq where we're trying to stop foreign terrorists from entering through Syria and prevent al Qaeda from establishing a safe haven in the Anbar province.

General Casey is working with his Iraqi counterparts to restore Iraqi control of this region. And when we have completed this task, elements of the Iraqi military will remain to protect Iraq's border and ensure that the enemy does not return to dominate this region and intimidate its citizens.

To ensure that we can maintain this aggressive pace the military operations through the election period, we have temporarily increased our troop levels, just as we have before other major political events. As the Iraqi security forces establish control over more and more of their country, American troops will support these forces and continue to hunt down the terrorists in the remaining problem areas.

Iraqi forces are showing the vital difference they can make. They are now in control of more parts of Iraq than at any time in the past two years. Significant areas of Baghdad and Mosul, once violent and volatile, are now more stable because Iraqi forces are helping to keep the peace.

Iraqis are providing security in Najaf and parts of Diyala province. In all these areas, the Iraqis are gathering useful intelligence. They're forging alliances with civic and religious leaders. As the Iraqi security forces show they're capable of keeping the terrorists out, they're earning the confidence of the Iraqi people and ensuring the success of a free and democratic Iraq.

Listen, there are differences of opinion about the way forward; I understand that. Some Americans want us to withdraw our troops so that we can escape the violence. I recognize their good intentions, but their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous, and make America less safe. To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. The terrorists saw our response to the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings in the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. The terrorists concluded that we lacked the courage and character to defend ourselves, and so they attacked us.

Now the terrorists are testing our will and resolve in Iraq. If we fail that test, the consequences for the safety and security of the American people would be enormous. Our withdrawal from Iraq would allow the terrorists to claim an historic victory over the United States. It would leave our enemies emboldened and allow men like Zarqawi and bin Laden to dominate the Middle East and launch more attacks on America and other free nations. The battle lines are drawn, and there is no middle ground: either we defeat the terrorists and help the Iraqis build a working democracy, or the terrorists will impose their dark ideology on the Iraqi people and make that country a source of terror and instability to come for decades.

The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission. For the security of the American people, that's not going to happen on my watch. We'll do our duty. We'll defeat our enemies in Iraq and other fronts in the war on terror. We'll lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

Since our country was attacked on the morning of September the 11th, 2001, we have known that the war on terror would require tremendous sacrifice and commitment. Across the world, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are taking on dangerous and difficult work. Some have given their lives in battle; they did so in a cause that is just and necessary for the security of this country. We're grateful for their service. We pray for their families they left behind. We'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission and winning the war on terror.

...

But the war is beyond Iraq, that's what I'm trying to say to you. This is a global war. Afghanistan is a good example of progress being made. You might remember Afghanistan was the home base for the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda. And now we've got a democracy in Afghanistan and the world is better for it and safer for it.

You bet we're making progress. We've got a lot of work. And this is a long struggle. To defeat this enemy, the United States of America must understand that it's going to take -- it's going to take time, just like it took time to defeat other struggles we had, other -- to succeed in other struggles we've had, like communism, and it's going to take a while.

But what will accelerate the ability for the enemy to succeed is for the United States to lose its nerve, that's what I'm telling you.
 

- George W. Bush, President Discusses War on Terror and Hurricane Preparation, September 23, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050922.html


The confrontation between British troops and Iraqi police and militia in Basra shows not only that the cosy image of the British presence in Iraq has faded but that the mission of the troops is becoming unclear.

The troops are supposed to be holding the ring while Iraqi security forces are built up.

But if the Iraqis to whom the British are due to hand over security control are themselves unreliable, the strategy is gravely weakened.

Security is one of the two hinges on the door marked "exit". The other is constitutional government.

Neither hinge has been screwed into place. Until they are, the door will not open and the British government will not declare a timetable for withdrawal. Nor does the Iraqi government show any signs of asking the British, let alone the Americans, to leave.

Infiltration

Under the most optimistic timetable offered by the British government, troops could start a drawdown next year. But first the constitution must be approved in October, a new government elected in December and the local security forces must show an ability to control their areas.

Earlier this year, the British plan was to hand over security in two southern provinces by December and the other two next year. Now it appears that this plan is up in the air.

The way that police in Basra handed over the two captured British soldiers to a militia does not bode well.

It has long been obvious that insurgents and militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces. In Basra, numerous reports have spoken of police being subject to outside influences.

Now Iraq's National Security Adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaie, in an interview about the events in Basra, has admitted this to the BBC.

He said: "Our Iraqi security forces in general, and these in particular and in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit that they have been penetrated by some of the insurgents, some of the terrorists as well."

The situation for the British troops is getting more threatening as local Shia militias (separate from the Sunni-led insurgency of the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) vie for influence and power. The troops are getting drawn into the conflict.

- "Iraq exit strategy still elusive",  By Paul Reynolds, World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website

source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4267772.stm

Copyright 2005 BBC


LONDON - Britain will keep its troops in Iraq as long as they are required and could send more soldiers if necessary, British Defense Secretary John Reid said Sunday.

"Our troops will be there until such times as the conditions are met — those conditions being the Iraqis themselves having such democratic control and such security forces that they can take the lead," Reid told ITV television.

Britain has some 9,000 troops in Iraq, most in the south of the country near Basra. Reid said more British troops can be deployed there if they are needed.

"We don't need them at the moment. If they are necessary, of course we would do that, and when the Iraqis decide that they want to take over the transition and the lead, then they will tell us," he said. "But there is no cutting and running. We are there until this job is done."

- article: "Britain: Troops to Be in Iraq for Awhile", by Associated Press, September 20, 2005

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5287120,00.html

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press


As the Iraqi people continue on the path to democracy, the enemies of freedom remain brutal and determined. The killers in Iraq are the followers of the same ideology as those who attacked America four years ago. Their vision is for an Iraq that looks like Afghanistan under the Taliban; a society where freedom is crushed, girls are denied schooling, and terrorists have a safe haven to plot attacks on America and other free people.

To impose their hateful vision, our enemies know they must drive America out of Iraq before the Iraqi people can secure their own freedom. They believe we will retreat in the face of violence, so they're committing acts of staggering brutality, murdering Iraqi children receiving candy, or hospital workers treating the wounded. We have no doubt that our enemies will continue to kill. Yet we also know they cannot achieve their aims unless we lose our resolve.

Today, Mr. President, I pledge that we will not waver. And I appreciate your same pledge. Iraq will take its place among the world's democracies. The enemies of freedom will be defeated.

President Talabani and I discussed our strategy for the months ahead. America will stand with the Iraqi people as they move forward with the democratic process. We're seeing hopeful developments in places like Fallujah and Ramadi and Mosul, where Iraqis are registering to vote, many for the first time -- well, obviously, for the first time.

At the same time, American troops will stay on the offensive, alongside Iraqi security forces, to hunt down our common enemies. At this hour, American and Iraqi forces are conducting joint operations to rout out terrorists and insurgents in Tall Afar. Our objective is to defeat the enemies of a free Iraq, and we're working to prepare more Iraqi forces to join the fight. As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And when the mission is complete, our troops will come home, with the honor they have earned.

- George W. Bush, President Welcomes President Talabani of Iraq to the White House, September 13, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050913-5.html


We will set no timetable for withdrawal, Mr. President. A timetable will help the terrorists, will encourage them that they could defeat a superpower of the world and the Iraqi people. We hope that by the end of 2006, our security forces are up to the level of taking responsibility from many American troops with complete agreement with Americans. We don't want to do anything without the agreement with the Americans because we don't want to give any signal to the terrorists that our will to defeat them is weakened, or they can defeat us.

We are proud that one day will come -- as soon as possible, of course, we hope -- that American troops can proudly return home, and we tell them, thank you, dear friends, and you are faithful to friendship. Of course, we are sorry for the sacrifices of American people in Iraq, but I think a great people like America has a mission in the history -- they have sacrificed hundreds of thousands of their sons in the war -- first world war, second world war, and in liberating people in Afghanistan, Kurdistan. And the great leader, Mr. George W. Bush is continuing the same mission of the American people. We are grateful. We are grateful for American generosity, and we honor -- we honor -- sacrifices of America in Iraq -- and everywhere, not only in Iraq.

- Iraq President Jalal Talabani, President Welcomes President Talabani of Iraq to the White House, September 13, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050913-5.html


The terrorists and insurgents are now waging a brutal campaign of terror in Iraq. They kill innocent men and women and children in the hopes of intimidating Iraqis. They're trying to scare them away from democracy. They're trying to break the will of the American people. Their goal is to turn Iraq into a failed state like Afghanistan was under the Taliban. If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.

Our goal is clear, as well. We will defeat the terrorists. We'll build a free Iraq that will fight terrorists instead of giving them aid and sanctuary. A free Iraq will offer people throughout the Middle East a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology being peddled by the terrorists. A free Iraq will show that when America gives its word, America keeps its word.

That choice -- this is the choice we face: Do we return to the pre-September the 11th mind-set of isolation and retreat, or do we continue to take the fight to the enemy and support our allies in the broader Middle East? I've made my decision: We will stay on the offensive. We will stand with the people of Iraq, and we will prevail.

We will prevail because this generation is determined to meet the threats of our time. We will prevail because this generation wants to leave a more hopeful world for our children and grandchildren. We will prevail because the desire to live in freedom is embedded in the soul of every man, woman and child on this Earth. And we will prevail because our freedom is defended by the greatest force for liberation that humankind has ever known, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

In this war, some of our best citizens have made the ultimate sacrifice. We mourn the lose of every life. We pray for their loved ones. And we will honor their sacrifice by completing the mission and laying the foundation for peace.

- George W. Bush, President Commemorates 60th Anniversary of V-J Day, August 30, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050830-1.html


Iraqis are working together to build a free nation that contributes to peace and stability in the region, and we will help them succeed. American and Iraqi forces are on the hunt side by side to defeat the terrorists. As we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces.

Our strategy is straightforward: As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And when Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, August 27, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827.html


We are indeed a nation at war, and it is difficult.  And we should never underestimate the challenges that our military members face in this global war on terrorism, and as with all conflicts since our own independence, we are asking a lot of our people.  They're performing tremendously, and they always have as their -- as when their country has called.  Our troops know the mission, and they're fully up to the task.  They are trained and they are ready, and they want to see the mission through to completion.  That means, of course, staying the course as we train the Iraqi security forces to provide for their own security, and our troops understand that winning -- that the winning strategy is to continue to fight the insurgency and to create an environment to allow the political process to continue.

...

What we've said is, as events dictate and as Iraqi security forces become more capable, they'll be given more and more lead responsibility and more area that will be their responsibility, and we will go from working with them to a supporting role and being available if they get in trouble, if they need help.  And if we get to that state, if events dictate that, if this political process continues, then there's a possibility we might be able to reduce forces.  But sharp reductions -- I mean, nobody -- no senior commander has talked about sharp reductions.  And we'll just have to see what plays out. 

- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF, August 26, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050826-3782.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC


KUFA, Iraq (AFP) - Thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr took to the streets in southern Iraqi cities protesting the lack of basic infrastructure and demanding an end of occupation.

The protests came after seven people were killed and 13 others wounded in clashes between Sadr supporters and a rival Shiite group following attempts to reopen Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf.

"We want better services in the holy city of Najaf," said one banner carried by Sadr's followers who gathered in their thousands outside the central mosque of Kufa, just to the east of Najaf.

"We want occupation forces out," said another.

In Basra, Iraq's second largest city, some 3,000 Sadr supporters demonstrated after Friday prayers amid tight security.

"We hold occupation forces responsible for the deterioration of services. We want a solution for unemployment," said one banner.

Some ,4000 demonstrators also marched in the southern town of Kerbala brandishing posters of Sadr, while security forces remained out of sight to avoid tension.

"Is electricity supply meant to be for officials only?" demanded one banner. "No, No to false promises," said another.

- AFP Article, August 26, 2005

source:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050826/wl_mideast_afp/iraqshiitesdemo

Copyright 2005 Agence France Presse


We will stay on the offense. We'll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq. An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations. So long as I'm the President, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror.

...

Yet, despite the violence we see every day, we're achieving our strategic objectives in Iraq. The Iraqi people are determined to build a free nation, and we have a plan to help them succeed. America and Iraqi forces are on the hunt, side-by-side, to defeat the terrorists. And as we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces.

Like free people everywhere, Iraqis desire to defend their own country. That's what they want to do. They want to be in a position to defend their own freedom and their own democracy. And we're helping to achieve that goal. Our approach can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when the Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

...

The establishment of a democratic constitution will be a landmark event in the history of Iraq and the history of the history of the Middle East. It will bring us closer to a day when Iraq is a nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

...

The battle lines in Iraq are now clearly drawn for the world to see, and there is no middle ground. Transforming a country that was ruled by an oppressive dictator who sponsored terror into a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror will take more time, more sacrifice, and continued resolve. Terrorists will emerge from Iraq one of two ways: emboldened or defeated. Every nation -- every free nation -- has a stake in the success of the Iraqi people. If the terrorists were to win in Iraq, the free world would be more vulnerable to attacks on innocent civilians. And that is why, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, the terrorists will be defeated.

...

In this war, we have said farewell to some very good men and women, including 491 heroes of the National Guard and Reserves. We mourn the loss of every life. We pray for their loved ones. These brave men and women gave their lives for a cause that is just and necessary for the security of our country, and now we will honor their sacrifice by completing their mission.

- George W. Bush, President Addresses Military Families, Discusses War on Terror, August 24, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050824.html


I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake. I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East would be -- are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States.

...

Anyway, I'm optimistic about what's taking place. I'm also optimistic about the fact that more and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy. And as I'll remind the good folks of Idaho, our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And what that means is, as more and more Iraqis take the fight to the few who want to disrupt the dreams of the many, that the American troops will be able to pull back. We're still going to be training Iraqis; we'll still be working with Iraqis. But more and more Iraqis will be in the fight.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses Iraqi Constitution with Press Pool, August 23, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050823.html


Our goal is clear: to secure a more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren. We will accept nothing less than total victory over the terrorists and their hateful ideology.

Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. It is a vital part of our mission. Terrorists like bin Laden and his ally, Zarqawi, are trying to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a place where women are beaten, religious and ethnic minorities are executed, and terrorists have sanctuary to plot attacks against free people. Terrorists are trying to block the rise of democracy in Iraq, because they know a free Iraq will deal a decisive blow to their strategy to achieve absolute power. The Iraqi people lived for three decades under an absolute dictatorship, and they will not allow a new set of would-be tyrants to take control of their future.

The response --  the people of Iraq have made a clear choice for all to see. In spite of threats and assassinations, more than eight million citizens defied the car bombers and killers and voted in free elections.  In spite of violence, the Iraqi people are building a nation that secures freedom for its citizens and contributes to peace and stability in that region.

Now Iraq's leaders are once again defying the terrorists and pessimists by completing work on a democratic constitution. The establishment of a democratic constitution will be a landmark event in the history of Iraq and the history of the Middle East. All of Iraq's main ethnic and religious groups are working together on this vital project. All made the courageous choice to join the political process, and together they will produce a constitution that reflects the values and traditions of the Iraqi people.

Producing a constitution is a difficult process that involves debate and compromise. We know this from our own history. Our Constitutional Convention was home to political rivalries and regional disagreements. The Constitution our founders produced has been amended many times over. So Americans understand the challenges facing the framers of Iraq's new constitution. We admire their thoughtful deliberations; we salute their determination to lay the foundation for lasting democracy amid the ruins of a brutal dictatorship.

As Iraqis continue to take control of their own future, we will help them take responsibility for their own security. The enemies of a free Iraq are determined. They are adapting their tactics so they can take more innocent life. American and Iraqi forces are adapting our tactics, too. We're on the hunt, side-by-side with Iraqi troops. We're working to defeat the terrorists together. As we hunt down our common enemies, we will continue to train more Iraqi security forces so they can take on more responsibilities in fighting the terrorists. After all, it's their own country.

Our military is strategy is straightforward: As Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And when Iraqi forces can defend their freedom by taking on more and more of the fight to the enemy, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.

...

Since the morning of September the 11th, we have known that the war on terror would require great sacrifice, as well. We have lost 1,864 members of our Armed Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom. Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each of these heroes left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. And each of these Americans have brought the hope of freedom to millions who have not known it. We owe them something. We will finish the task that they gave their lives for. We will honor their sacrifice by staying on the offensive against the terrorists, and building strong allies in Afghanistan and Iraq that will help us win and fight -- fight and win the war on terror.

- George W. Bush, President Honors Veterans of Foreign Wars at National Convention, August 22, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050822-1.html


Top general: Army preparing for 4 more years
Troop level in Iraq would remain the same thru 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Army is making plans to keep the current number of soldiers in Iraq -- well over 100,000 -- for four more years, the Army's top general said Saturday.

In an Associated Press interview, Gen. Peter Schoomaker said the Army is prepared for the "worst case" in terms of the required level of troops in Iraq. He said the number could be adjusted lower, if called for, by slowing troop rotation or by shortening tours for soldiers.

Schoomaker said commanders in Iraq and others will decide how many troops will be needed next year and beyond. His responsibility, he said, is to provide them, trained and equipped.

About 138,000 U.S. troops, including about 25,000 Marines, are in Iraq.

"We are now into '07-'09 in our planning," Schoomaker said, having completed work on the set of combat and support units that will be rotated into Iraq over the coming year for 12-month tours of duty.

- AP Article, August 20, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/08/20/us.troops.ap/index.html

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


Now we must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission. We can be confident in the ultimate triumph of our cause, because we know that freedom is the future of every nation and that the side of freedom is the side of victory.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, August 20, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050820.html


That's the nature of the enemy we face in the war on terror, and will face for the duration of this struggle. And our duty is clear. Killers who target innocent, unsuspecting men, women, and children on a peaceful street, or set off explosions during a morning rush hour, or fly passenger jets into buildings are not the kind of people you can bring to the bargaining table and sit down for a reasonable exchange of ideas. This is not a war we can win strictly on the defensive. Our only option against these enemies is to find them, to fight them, and to destroy them.

Iraq is a critical front in the war on terror, and victory there is critical to the future security of the U.S. and other free nations. We know this, and the terrorists know it as well. Osama bin Laden has said the "Third World War is raging" in Iraq. "The whole world," he said, "is watching this war." He says it will end in "victory and glory -- or misery and humiliation."

Our mission in Iraq is clear. On the military side, we are hunting down the terrorists, and training Iraqi security forces so they can take over responsibility for defending their own country. And over time, as Iraqi forces stand up, American forces will stand down. On the political side, we're helping Iraqis build a vital, peaceful, self-governing nation that can be an ally in the war on terror.

...

Right now in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is still tough fighting, in conditions ranging from urban to desert to the high mountains. At every stage of this conflict, members of our military have had to carry out some of the most perilous, technical, time-sensitive missions ever attempted. When you have enemies that are hidden, diffuse, secret in their movements, and asymmetrical in their tactics, you have to go into the shadows and get them -- one at a time, if necessary.

...

Every man and woman who fights and sacrifices in this war is serving a just and noble cause. This nation will always be grateful to them, and we will honor their sacrifice by completing our mission.

...

We will not relent in this effort, because we have the clearest possible understanding of what is at stake. None of us wants to turn over the future of mankind to tiny groups of fanatics committing indiscriminate murder, enslaving whole populations, oppressing women, imposing an ideology of hatred on an entire region, and arming to create death and destruction on an unbelievable scale. And so we must direct every resource that is necessary to defending the peace and freedom of our world, and the safety of the people we serve. That is the commitment the United States -- that we've made to ourselves and to other nations. And with good allies at our side, we will see this cause through to victory.

- U.S. Vice President, Richard "Dick" Cheney

Vice President's Remarks at the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, August 18, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050818-4.html


The establishment of a democratic constitution is a critical step on the path to Iraqi self-reliance. Iraqis are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed. We're hunting down the terrorists and training the security forces of a free Iraq so Iraqis can defend their own country. Our approach can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when that mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will come home to a proud and grateful nation.

...

The terrorists cannot defeat us on the battlefield. The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve. That will not happen on my watch. Withdrawing our troops from Iraq prematurely would betray the Iraqi people, and would cause others to question America's commitment to spreading freedom and winning the war on terror. So we will honor the fallen by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, and by doing so we will ensure that freedom and peace prevail.

- George W. Bush, President's Radio Address, August 13, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050813.html


As for the troops, no decision has been made yet on increasing troops or decreasing troops. I know there's a lot of speculation and rumors about that. We did, as you might recall, increase troops for the Iraqi election and for the Afghanistan elections. It seemed to have helped create security, and I know the Secretary of Defense is analyzing that possibility.

I also know there's a lot of folks here in the United States that are, you know, wondering about troop withdrawals. They're concerned about the violence and the death. They hear the stories about a loved one being lost to combat. And, you know, I grieve for every death. It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place.

I also have heard the voices of those saying, pull out now, and I've thought about their cry, and their sincere desire to reduce the loss of life by pulling our troops out. I just strongly disagree. Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy. Immediate withdrawal would say to the Zarqawis of the world, and the terrorists of the world, and the bombers who take innocent life around the world, you know, the United States is weak; and all we've got to do is intimidate and they'll leave.

Pulling troops out prematurely will betray the Iraqis. Our mission in Iraq, as I said earlier, is to fight the terrorists, is to train the Iraqis. And we're making progress training the Iraqis. Oh, I know it's hard for some Americans to see that progress, but we are making progress. More and more Iraqi units are becoming more and more capable of fighting off the terrorists. And remember, and that's a country where 8.5 million Iraqis went to the polls. They've said, we want to be free. And our mission is to help them have a military that's capable of defeating those who would like to dash their ambitions to be free.

Withdrawing before the mission is complete would send a signal to those who wonder about the United States' commitment to spreading freedom. You see, I believe and know that we're at war, and we're at war against a hateful ideology. And the way to defeat that ideology in the long-term is to spread a hopeful ideology, one that says to young girls, you can succeed in your society, and you should have a chance to do so; one that says to moms and dads, you can raise your child in a peaceful world without intimidation; and one that says to people from all walks of life, you have a right to express yourself in the public square.

It's the spread of liberty that is laying the foundation of peace, and is very important for our citizens -- no matter what side of the political aisle you're on -- to understand that the mission is a vital mission and it's one that will be -- that we obviously couldn't complete if -- if we -- if we didn't fulfill our goals, which was to help the Iraqis.

...

I've heard her position from others, which is, get out of Iraq now. And it would be -- it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long-run, if we were to do so.

...

Clearly -- my position has been clear, and the position -- therefore, the position of this government is clear, that as Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down. And that means that there's a -- obviously, the conditions on the ground depend upon our capacity to bring troops home, and the main condition, as to whether or not the Iraqis have got the capability of taking the fight to the enemy.

And so I suspect what you were hearing was speculation based upon progress that some are seeing in Iraq as to whether or not the Iraqis will be able to take the fight to the enemy. In other words, you've got people -- obviously, it's important to plan. It's important to think down the road. And you've got people saying, well, if the Iraqis are capable, if more and more units are capable of taking the fight to the enemy, it would then provide an opportunity to replace coalition troops with those Iraqis.

...

I am pleased with the progress being made when it comes to training Iraqi units. One of the things I announced at Fort Bragg was our strategy to embed our troops within Iraqi units so to better facilitate the training of those Iraqi units. And this morning, General Casey reported to me and Secretary Rumsfeld and -- the folks standing right back here -- reported to us that more and more units are becoming more and more capable, and that the embedding process is working.

Now, there's not that many that can stand alone yet, but there are a lot more that are -- have gone from raw -- you know, that raw recruit stage, to plenty capable. In some cases, some units need no United States or coalition force help; in some cases, they need minimal help. But the point is, is that there is a matrix, and we're following that matrix as more and more troops become capable and competent. And so my answer to you is that we are making progress.

And I've said all along we'd like to get our troops home as soon as possible -- but soon as possible is conditions-based. And so we're monitoring progress. The important thing for the American people to know is we are making progress. There's a political track on which we're making progress, and the security track on which we're making progress. And I know it's tough and I know it's hard work, but America has done hard work before. And as a result of the hard work we have done before, we have laid the foundation for peace for future generations.

- George W. Bush, President Meets with Defense and Foreign Policy Teams, August 11, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050811-1.html


We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this: We'll help the Iraqis develop a democracy. They're writing -- in the process of writing a constitution, which will be ratified in October, and then they will elect a permanent government. It's also important for our citizens to understand that progress has been made, particularly when eight-plus million people got to vote in the face of Zawahiri and Sarawak and these killers.

We're also training Iraqis. Our troops will come home as soon as possible. "As soon as possible" means when those Iraqis are prepared to fight. As Iraq stands up, our coalition will stand down.

- George W. Bush, President, President Uribe of Colombia Discuss Terrorism and Security, Bush Ranch, Crawford, Texas, August 4, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050804-2.html


The violence in recent days in Iraq is a grim reminder of the enemies we face. These terrorists and insurgents will use brutal tactics because they're trying to shake the will of the United States of America. They want us to retreat. They want us, in our compassion for the innocent, to say we're through. That's what they want. They will fail. They do not understand the character and the strength of the United States of America. They do not understand our desire to protect ourselves, to protect our friends, protect our allies, and to spread freedom around the world.

Our men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause, in a selfless cause. Their families can know that American citizens pray for them. And the families can know that we will honor their loved one's sacrifice by completing the mission, by laying the foundations for peace for generations to come.

We have a strategy for success in Iraq. On the one hand, we've got a military strategy, and we'll continue to hunt down the terrorists, as we train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own country. As Iraqis stand up, Americans and coalition forces will stand down. And we're making progress. More and more Iraqi units are more and more capable of defending themselves.

You know, my -- I hear all the time, well, when are you bringing the troops home? And my answer to you is, soon as possible, but not before the mission is complete. Why would -- why -- why would a Commander-in-Chief -- it makes no sense for the Commander-in-Chief to put out a timetable. We're at war. We're facing an enemy that is ruthless. And if we put out a timetable, the enemy would adjust their tactics.

The timetable is this -- and you can tell your Guard troops and reserve troops and mothers and dads of those serving -- the timetable depends on our ability to train the Iraqis, to get the Iraqis ready to fight. And then our troops are coming home with the honor they have earned.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses Second Term Accomplishments and Priorities, August 3, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050803.html


The Pentagon is laying the groundwork for beginning a withdrawal from Iraq, even as it is weighing the risk of moving so quickly that Iraqi security forces collapse without U.S. support.

The benefits of a U.S. drawdown are pretty clear. Fewer troops would likely mean fewer casualties and less strain on the Army and Marine Corps, which already are stretched thin. And it would lessen the degree to which the presence of foreign forces fuels an anti-U.S. insurgency.

There are now about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in a war with dwindling popularity among American voters.

At best, a U.S. drawdown would begin shortly after elections for a new government in Baghdad, scheduled for December. That assumes two other difficult political milestones are achieved first: drafting a constitution by Aug. 15 and holding a national referendum in mid-October to approve the constitution.

It also assumes the insurgency does not get worse — and that Iraqi security forces prove themselves ready for combat.

If the U.S. were to withdraw before the Iraqis were ready, the American sacrifices of the past 2 1/2 years could be lost — and President Bush would face pressure to explain why the invasion was worth it.

Even though Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has not yet received even a recommendation from commanders on when to start the pullout, he has been talking more directly in recent days about the security transition.

"Once Iraq is safely in the hands of the Iraqi people, and a government they elected under a new constitution, our troops will be able to come home with the honor they have earned," Rumsfeld said in a speech prepared for the Dallas Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. Rumsfeld delivered only abbreviated remarks by telephone after his plane had mechanical problems.

Noticeably absent from his comments was any assertion that defeating the insurgency is one of the conditions for an American withdrawal.

In Rumsfeld's view, shared by top U.S. commanders in Iraq, it must be left to the Iraqis to overcome the insurgency. Likewise, the Iraqis must be prodded to take the lead in other areas of their struggle to rebuild.

Among the signs that the United States is pressing a faster transition to Iraqi-led security, to open the way for a U.S. withdrawal:

• After taking up his post last month as U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad announced the creation of a U.S.-Iraq task force to develop a strategy and conditions for transferring the security responsibility from the U.S.-led coalition forces to the Iraqis. "Our common goal is to help Iraq stand on its own feet as quickly as possible," Khalilzad said, adding that this would allow for a phased U.S. pullout.

• Last weekend Iraqi police and a brigade of the 5th Iraqi Army Division formally took full control of an area in Diyala Province, to the northeast of Baghdad, known as Khalis Qadah, replacing a U.S. Army unit. Col. Archie Davis, spokesman for Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said the transition was made because the Iraqis had demonstrated their proficiency at fighting the insurgents without U.S. support.

• Mowaffak Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said Monday that several cities in the more stable south and north had been identified as areas where withdrawal of foreign forces could likely start soon. The cities included Najaf, Karbala, Samawah, Diwaniyah and Nasiriyah in the heavily Shiite Muslim south, and possibly Irbil and Sulaymaniyah in the predominantly Kurdish north.

The battle against the insurgency brought another stark reminder Tuesday of the cost in U.S. lives of remaining in Iraq. Military officials announced that seven Marines were killed in action on Monday, pushing the total number of U.S. deaths in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion beyond the 1,800 mark. More than 13,700 have been wounded.

Iraqis — both civilians and security forces — have taken the lion's share of the casualties in recent months as U.S. troops have deliberately scaled back their unilateral combat missions to operate more with Iraqi forces. There are now more than 180,000 Iraqi police and army troops that have been trained and equipped by U.S. forces.

On a visit to Iraq last week, Rumsfeld drew a direct link between American combat deaths and the urgency of getting the Iraqis to complete a constitution by Aug. 15.

"We have troops on the ground there. People are getting killed," Rumsfeld said, adding that "political progress is necessary to defeat the insurgency."

- U.S. Laying Groundwork for Iraq Pullout, By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer , August 3, 2005

source: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050803/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/iraq_us_pullout

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press


Newsweek, Aug. 8, 2005 issue - Donald Rumsfeld doesn't like long-term occupations. He's always made that clear. After U.S. forces took Baghdad, the Defense secretary had plans to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq to 40,000 troops by the fall of 2003. Then the insurgency struck.

Now Rumsfeld is quietly moving toward his original goal—three years late. The Pentagon has developed a detailed plan in recent months to scale down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq to about 80,000 by mid-2006 and down to 40,000 to 60,000 troops by the end of that year, according to two Pentagon officials involved in the planning who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of their work. Their account squares with a British memo leaked in mid-July. "Emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in overall [U.S. and Coalition forces] from 176,000 down to 66,000," says the Ministry of Defense memo.

Gen. George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, hinted at those numbers last week. Casey told reporters that the United States will be "still able to take some fairly substantial reductions" if Iraq can keep to the timeline set out in the U.S.-sponsored interim constitution, which calls for elections for a permanent Iraqi government by Dec. 15, 2005. After that, U.S. officials believe, the main task of the U.S. occupation will have been completed.

U.S. officials denied that Casey's remarks represented any change in policy. But earlier this year the Pentagon had been mum on a withdrawal timetable, in part so as not to encourage the insurgents. Now the conditions for U.S. withdrawal no longer include a defeated insurgency, Pentagon sources say. The new administration mantra is that the insurgency can be beaten only politically, by the success of Iraq's new government.

Indeed, Washington is now less concerned about the insurgents than the unwillingness of Iraq's politicians to make compromises for the sake of national unity. Pentagon planners want to send a spine-stiffening message: the Americans won't be there forever. U.S. domestic factors are also forcing President Bush's hand. The Bush administration wants to pre-empt growing public pressure for withdrawal, which could give the insurgents a Vietnam-like strategic goal. Military planners, meanwhile, are deeply concerned about driving away Army careerists and recruits if current deployments are forced into 2007. If the U.S. Army has to do another rotation into Iraq in the fall of 2006 to keep force levels up to their current 138,000, it "goes off a cliff," says retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

The question is whether the insurgents will see the U.S. plan as a rush to the doors. And whether they and Iraqi militias will come to dominate the country in the vacuum left by U.S. forces, leading to civil war. A too-rapid withdrawal could even hand a victory to foreign jihadists streaming into Iraq. "What we have is a plan of action for pulling our troops out, not a strategy for success," says Andrew Krepinevich, a Washington strategist. "That's more of a Vietnam solution: 'Peace with honor'." The phrase proved hollow back then. The Pentagon is betting it won't this time.

- Drawing Down Iraq, Drastic troop cuts are in the Pentagon's secret plans, By Michael Hirsh and John Barry, August 1, 2005

source:  http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8770418/site/newsweek/

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.


BAGHDAD - Radicals within Iraq’s Shia majority community said on Friday that they had collected one million signatures demanding the withdrawal of US-led troops.

“We obtained the Iraqi signatures demanding the withdrawal of the occupation troops as asked for by Sayyed Moqtada Sadr,” said Sheikh Abdel Zahra Al Suwaidi, an aide of the Shia radical leader.

“The goal of this petition is to show the world the rejection by Iraqis of foreigners in Iraq,” Suwaidi told worshippers at the main weekly Muslim prayers in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City, a radical stronghold.

“It is a message to the international organizations like the United Nations, the Arab League and the European Union, so that they can help the Iraqi people by issuing an international statement demanding that occupation forces leave the country as quickly as possible.”

- "Million signatures claimed for Iraq troop pullout petition" (AFP), 29 July 2005

source: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/focusoniraq/2005/July/focusoniraq_July170.xml&section=focusoniraq&col=


Q The Iraqi Prime Minister called today for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops. Was the President surprised that this happened at a time when insurgency shows no signs of abating?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think everybody wants our troops to come home, and I know the Iraqi people want to be able to have full responsibility for their future. The President has made it clear that we have a two-track strategy when it comes to Iraq. One part of that strategy is to continue to move forward on the training of Iraqi security forces, and that's what we're doing. As we stand up Iraqi forces, we will stand down American forces.

And the Iraqi forces are showing more and more that they're willing to take the fight to the enemy. They're engaging more and more in the fight themselves. They're making some important progress. But there is work to do, and we are committed to making sure that they're in position to be able to provide for their own security. And that -- in terms of our troop levels, we always look to our commanders on the ground. They make decisions based on the conditions on the ground. And that's what we'll drive the decisions made about troop levels.

Q And when General Casey says that substantial pullout will take place next summer or next spring, tell us why this doesn't send a wrong message to the insurgents --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think General Casey said that it would be based upon conditions on the ground. And we have to continue to look at the progress that's being made on the political front and the building of democratic institutions in Iraq. And we also have to look at the progress that's being made on training the Iraqi forces.

The President talked about our strategy and the details of how we're going about to make sure that the Iraqi forces have the command-and-control structure they need, and to make sure that they have the readiness levels to be able to fully defend their country both from internal threats and external threats. Ultimately, it will be the Iraqi people that prevail over the terrorists and those who seek to derail the transition to democracy, because the terrorists understand how high the stakes are. When we succeed in Iraq, it will be a major blow to the terrorists and their ambitions of spreading an ideology of hate. And we're going to defeat them there so that we don't have to fight them here at home.

Q Does the President share General Casey's views?

MR. McCLELLAN: General Casey said that it would be based on conditions on the ground, is what I saw that he said.

Q I understand. I'm asking you, is that consistent with what the President believes? Was he speaking, in effect, for the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: That it would be based on conditions on the ground?

Q What he said today --

MR. McCLELLAN: What he said in terms of being based on conditions --

Q -- setting a timetable based on those conditions.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President's view is that we will look to the commanders on the ground. General Casey is one of our commanders on the ground, and we will make decisions based on what they say, and they make decisions based on the conditions and the progress that's being made on the ground.

We all want to see our troops come home. The President wants to see our troops come home. But we've got an important mission that we need to complete. And we need to make sure that the Iraqi people are on a path to democracy and security.

Q So the President is comfortable with the timetable that General Casey discussed, provided that those various markers are met? Is that accurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: We look to our commanders on the ground, and the President has always said that we will make decisions based on what they say.

- White House Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, July 27, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050727-1.html


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's transitional prime minister called Wednesday for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops and the top U.S. commander here said he believed a ``fairly substantial'' pullout could begin next spring and summer.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.

Asked how soon a U.S. withdrawal should happen, he said no exact timetable had been set. ``But we confirm and we desire speed in that regard,'' he said, speaking through a translator. ``And this fast pace has two aspects.''

First, there must be a quickening of the pace of U.S. training of Iraqi security forces, and second there must be closely coordinated planning between the U.S.-led military coalition and the emerging Iraq government on a security transition, he said.

``We do not want to be surprised by a withdrawal that is not in connection with our Iraqi timing,``' he said.

Speaking earlier with U.S. reporters traveling with Rumsfeld, Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, said he believed a U.S. troop withdrawal could begin by spring 2006 if progress continues on the political front and if the insurgency does not expand.

- "Iraq Wants Quick Withdrawal of U.S. Troops", By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer, July 27, 2005

source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5170030,00.html

Copyright 2005 Associated Press


General: U.S. could start Iraq pullout in spring

Depends on political, security progress, commander says

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The top U.S. military commander in Iraq said Wednesday that the U.S. military could begin a substantial troop pullout as early as next spring.

Gen. George Casey, who spoke to reporters during Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's unannounced trip to Iraq, said some conditions would have to be met for the withdrawal to take place.

"I do believe that if the political process continues to go positively and if the development of the security forces continues to go as it is going, I do believe we'll still be able to take some very substantial reductions after these elections in the spring and summer of next year."

Elections in Iraq are scheduled for the end of this year.

Casey said he could not say how many of the approximately 135,000 American troops would be withdrawn.

At the same time, transitional Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who met with Rumsfeld, said it was time for a coordinated plan to transition from the American to the Iraqi military and urged that it be done in a speedy fashion.

Casey said there was no agreement on how many insurgents are battling coalition forces.

"The level of attacks they've been able to generate has not increased substantially here over what we've seen in the last year," Casey said. "This insurgency is not progressing."

Referring to the large-scale attacks mounted in recent weeks and months, Casey said "what you are seeing is a change in tactics to more violent, more visible attacks against civilians and that is a no-win strategy for the insurgency."

Last week, national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie told CNN that he'd be "very surprised if the coalition forces will not start pulling out by middle of next year."

Rubaie said he believed the withdrawing coalition forces would be "in sizable numbers."

- CNN article, "General: U.S. could start Iraq pullout in spring", July 27, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/07/27/iraq.main/index.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


WASHINGTON -- Calls for an early withdrawal from Iraq are a mistake that will only embolden terrorists, the House resolved Wednesday. The resolution drew opposition from Democrats, who said it implied that questioning President Bush's Iraq policies is unpatriotic.

The measure, approved 291-137, says the United States should leave Iraq only when national security and foreign policy goals related to a free and stable Iraq have been achieved.

"Calls for an early withdrawal embolden the terrorists and undermine the morale" of U.S. and allied forces and put their security at risk, the amendment to a State Department bill reads.

- "House Votes Against Early Iraq Withdrawal", By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer, July 20, 2005

source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/20/AR2005072001907.html

© 2005 The Associated Press


Q Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, before the invasion of Iraq, Mr. Howard said that our troops would be there for months, not years. It is now years. Realistically, how long can the Australian people expect our troops to be in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it, now, more years?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first, I think if you're going to ask how long the Australian troops will stay, you ought to ask the person who decides where the Australian troops go in the first place. I can tell you about the American troops, and that is that they'll be there as long as necessary to complete the mission.

There's a great temptation to get me or John to put a timetable on our actions there. That doesn't make any sense. Why would you tell the enemy how long you're going to stay somewhere? Why would you -- it just doesn't -- we're at war, and during a war, you do the best you can to win the war, and one way to embolden an enemy is to give them an artificial timetable. I'm sure probably -- timetables need to be asked -- I get asked about timetables all the time here. And -- but the answer is, when the Iraqis are ready to do the fighting themselves. And that's happening on a steady basis, and they're taking more and more of the fight to the enemy.

And like I'm sure in Australia, people in America want to know when the troops are coming home -- and as quickly as possible, but we've got to complete the mission. The mission is really important. We're laying the foundation for peace. A free Iraq, a democratic Iraq, in the heart of the Middle East, is a part of a vision that understands free societies are peaceful societies.

We're fighting an ideology, and the way you defeat an ideology that is so backward, so evil and so hated they kill innocent men and women regardless of religion, is to spread freedom. And that's why it's important we complete the mission in Iraq.

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Dennis, I did make that statement, and I made it in a particular context, which I'm sure you will recall. I'm not going to try and put a time limit on our commitment in Iraq; I'm not. It will be governed by circumstances, rather than by the calendar, to borrow an expression you may have heard yesterday when I was at the Pentagon. I thought it was a very good expression, and that's why -- and I won't plagiarize it; I'll acknowledge the source -- that is why I use it.

But I believe that progress is being made. I think we do face a situation where, because of the horror of suicide bombing, there is a constant high level of publicity, understandably, given to that, and to the detriment of the progress that is being made at a political level. I mean, nothing can answer and deny the fact that 8 million people risked their lives to vote. Now, that is a stunning personal commitment to democracy that Australians haven't been required to do in my lifetime, or, indeed, the average American citizen, either. Now, I think we have to pay some regard to that. And that is a cause worth fighting for, and it's a cause worth promoting and supporting.

Now, the great burden in Iraq is being carried by the United States, and I feel very deeply for the American people the burden they are carrying. I also pay tribute to the burden that's being carried by the British. Our commitment is significant, but, obviously, it's much smaller than that of those two countries. But we will stay the distance in Iraq. We won't go until the job has been finished. And you've heard me say that before. That's been my view for a long time, and it will remain my view.

- George W. Bush and John Howard, President Welcomes Prime Minister of Australia to the White House, July 19, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050719.html


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister defended the presence of U.S. troops on Iraqi soil on Tuesday, telling parliament their withdrawal would not be forced by insurgents but that foreign forces could leave some cities as a first step.

"We want the withdrawal decision to be an Iraqi decision with an Iraqi timetable not with a terror timetable," Ibrahim Jaafari told lawmakers, assuring them that the government was protecting its people's interests with the occupying forces.

He was speaking after a leaked British government memo revealed plans in London and Washington for a sharp reduction of close to two thirds in foreign forces in Iraq within a year -- if Iraqi forces prove themselves capable of taking over.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick earlier met Jaafari at his Baghdad offices and reaffirmed that American troops would stay as long as required to bolster the new Iraqi government's own, newly recruited forces.

"U.S. forces intend to continue to support Iraqi people and that we will stand down as the Iraqi forces stand up, and that means that the U.S. connection will be based on the conditions by which the Iraqi forces are able to meet the effort to deal with the counter-insurgency," Zoellick told reporters.

At the same event, Jaafari said: "We do not want to be surprised by a decision of withdrawal. The right balance is that the Iraqi people decide through their elected institutions that they are self-sufficient and able to protect themselves."

"They will leave when it is decided there is no more need for foreign troops," the prime minister said.

PARTIAL WITHDRAWAL

"On the ground, our armed forces are making progress. We believe some provinces are safe and ... we can withdraw foreign troops from these cities," he said.

Southern Iraq, stronghold of the Shi'ite majority installed in power by the U.S. invasion, has been relatively quiet and British troops in command there are widely expected to be reduced in number by next year if it remains so.

In other places, there has been speculation that foreign troops could pull back to bases outside towns.

Facing a new election at the end of the year, Jaafari has been keen to express concern over common complaints about U.S. troops killing civilians they mistake for attackers and told parliament he had taken this up with U.S. commanders.

A U.S. military spokesman said troops in Falluja, west of Baghdad, killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded another when their car failed to heed warning signals approaching a checkpoint.

Many Iraqis resent the U.S.-led foreign troops but would agree with the government's view that any departure would be risky if Iraqi forces are not ready to take over security.

(Additional reporting by Hiba Moussa in Baghdad and Peter Graff in Hilla)

- "Iraq prime minister defends U.S. troop presence" by By Alastair Macdonald, July 12, 2005

source: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050712/ts_nm/iraq_dc_140

Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited


To help Iraqis build a free nation, we have a clear plan with both a military track and a political track. Our military is pursuing the terrorists and helping to train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our plan can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

Our troops see the progress the Iraqi security forces have made. Captain Glenn Colby of the Rhode Island National Guard says that when he arrived in Iraq over a year ago, the Iraqi police were afraid to go outside their building. Recently, he says, the soldiers were on patrol when the Iraqi police charged past them in hot pursuit of insurgents. He says of the Iraqi police, "Now you see them everywhere. You see them at checkpoints on the streets; you see them on patrol; you see them stand and fight."

...

The leaders of the new Iraqi military see the progress. The Iraqi general in charge of his country's elite special forces puts it this way: Before, "the Americans were taking the lead and we were following." Now, he said proudly that his forces were taking the lead. We are working for the day when the entire Iraqi army can say the same thing. Our coalition will help Iraqis so they can fight the enemy on their own. And then American forces can come home to a proud and grateful nation.

- George W. Bush, President Discusses War on Terror at FBI Academy, July 11, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050711-1.html


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Radicals within Iraq's Shiite majority community launched a petition for the withdrawal of US-led troops, which they said was drawing support from across the sectarian divide.

Supporters of firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr, who led a bloody six-month uprising against the coalition last year, said they were aiming to secure one million signatures inside four days.

"We started this morning and so far we have had a good response, not only from Shiites -- Sunnis and Christians have also been coming to our office to show their support," said Ibrahim al-Jaberi, an official in Sadr's movement.

"We have also received more than 100 calls from Iraqis living abroad in support of our initiative," he said, adding that more than 400,000 people had signed the petition by midday (0800 GMT).

The petition, which Jaberi said would be submitted to the Iraqi government and United Nations, reads: "I hereby declare my rejection of the forces of occupation and demand their withdrawal".

In the radicals' Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, Zayer Lafta refused a pen, insisting on applying his bloodied thumb to the petition sheet.

"I will sign with my blood, because the country is awash with blood," the 44-year-old said.

"The departure of the occupiers will only benefit the country. Every day they are here the closer Iraq gets to its demise."

Khaled Zuwayed, 23, came with five friends to sign.

"Foreigners have not come to solve this country's problems but to make them worse. We only see car bombs and terrorist attacks," he said.

The Iraqi government asked the United Nations late last month to extend the mandate of foreign troops under Security Council Resolution 1546, despite complaints from MPs that they had not been consulted.

- "Iraq Shiites in campaign for foreign troop pullout", AFP, July 11, 2005

source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050711/wl_mideast_afp/iraqussadrpetition_050711192940

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse


An Iraqi man thumbprints with blood on a petition launched by Shiite radical leader Moqtada Sadr calling for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq in Baghdad's poor Sadr City neighborhood. The petition is aimed to collect a million signatures in every Iraqi town demanding the withdrawal of multinational forces from Iraq. (AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye) July 11, 2005


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Shiite radical leader Moqtada Sadr is launching a nationwide petition calling for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq, one of his deputies told AFP.

"Tomorrow, we shall begin to collect a million signatures in every Iraqi town demanding the withdrawal of multinational forces from Iraq," Saheb al-Ameri said Sunday.

The petition will then be sent to the Iraqi government and to the United Nations, he added.

The petition, which will provide both the names and addresses of those signing, reads: "I hereby declare my rejection of the forces of occupation and demand their withdrawal", said Ameri, who runs a religious charity organisation.

"Foreign troops should only be allowed into the country with the assent of parliament," he added

- "Shiite radical leader launches petition for troop withdrawal", AFP, July 10, 2005

source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050710/wl_mideast_afp/iraquspetition_050710160147

Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse


An Iraqi man at the offices of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr adds his name to a petition calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq during a signature collection Saturday, July 9, 2005. In the coming days Sadr's office plans to collect one million signatures calling for the end of the American presence in Iraq. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Iraqi men line up at the offices of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to add their name to a petition calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq during a signature collection Saturday, July 9, 2005. In the coming days Sadr's office plans to collect one million signatures calling for the end of the American presence in Iraq. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Iraqi women line up at the offices of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to add their name to a petition calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq during a signature collection Saturday, July 9, 2005. In the coming days Sadr's office plans to collect one million signatures calling for the end of the American presence in Iraq. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)


'[More than] 103 MPs Demand a Timetable for the Withdrawal of Foreign Troops

Baghdad – Abdel-Wahed Tohmeh – Al-Hayat, July 4, 2005

103 members of the [ 275-member] National Assembly (the Parliament) have demanded the adoption of a resolution cancelling the request made by the Government to the UN Security Council to extend the presence of multinational forces, and urging the Government to put “a clear plan for army building and a timetable for the withdrawal of occupation troops” from Iraq.

Falah Hassan Shneishel MP (of the “Independent National Bloc”) [the INB is the parliamentary bloc of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Current, which plays a prominent role in the organization of the political fight against the occupation] explained that the number of MPs demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of occupation troops has exceeded 103 after more than 20 additional MPs have adopted the statement issued two weeks ago in this regard.

Shneishel threatened to call for popular demonstrations in case “the authorities were not serious about the implementation of the demands of the Iraqis for an end to occupation.”

- Gilber Achcar's translation of an al-Hayat article:103 Iraqi Parliamentarians Demand Withdrawal of US Troops, July 7, 2005

source: http://www.juancole.com/2005/07/103-iraqi-parliamentarians-demand.html


PRESIDENT BUSH: ...And our strategy is to help the Iraqis stand up a viable government, to encourage them to get their constitution written, and to have the elections, to ratify the constitution, as well as a government under the constitution, and, at the same time, train Iraqis so they can fight. That's our strategy. And we're making good progress.

TONIGHT: Is the administration at sixes and sevens about the insurgency in Iraq? The vice-president said that we're in the last throes, or seeing the last throes of the insurgency. Donald Rumsfeld comes up and says we could be there for five, eight, 10, 12 years. Which is it? Which do you believe?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I believe that we will succeed in Iraq, because, one, the Iraqis want to live in a free society.

TONIGHT: But how long will it take, Mr President?

PRESIDENT BUSH: And, two, that the Iraqis want to take the fight to the enemy. And people want me to put a timetable on things; that's a huge mistake. Putting a timetable on this - on our stay there in Iraq simply emboldens the enemy and discourages our friends. And so, therefore, my answer is just, quickly as possible, and we are making progress.

The Bush Interview: Tonight With Trevor McDonald, July 4, 2005

source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/g8/story/0,13365,1521149,00.html

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005


"By helping Iraqis build a free and democratic nation, we will give strength to an ally in the war on terror, and we'll make America more secure. To continue building a free and democratic Iraq, Americans and Iraqis are fighting side-by-side to stop the terrorists and insurgents. And our military is helping to train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own liberty. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down, and then our troops can come home to a proud and grateful nation."

...

"Some of America's finest men and women have given their lives in the war on terror, and we remember them on Independence Day. We pray for the families who have lost a loved one in freedom's cause. And we know that the best way to honor their sacrifice is to complete the mission, so we will stay until the fight is won."

- George W. Bush, President Celebrates Independence Day in West Virginia, July 4, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050704.html


Iraqi men hold banners during a protest in Tikrit July 3, 2005. Thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, on Sunday, condemning the U.S. occupation of Iraq and demanding the release of detainees being held in U.S. prisons in Iraq. REUTERS/Amer Salman


"The burden of war falls especially hard on military families, and I thank them for the support they give our troops in their vital work. Some of America's finest men and women have given their lives in the war on terror, and we remember them on Independence Day. We pray for the families who have lost a loved one in freedom's cause. And we know that the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission, so we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."

-George W. Bush, President's Radio Address, July 2, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050702.html


The progress in the past year has been significant, and we have a clear path forward. To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents. To complete the mission, we will prevent al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends. And the best way to complete the mission is to help Iraqis build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.

So our strategy going forward has both a military track and a political track. The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists, and that is why we are on the offense. And as we pursue the terrorists, our military is helping to train Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

We've made progress, but we have a lot of -- a lot more work to do. Today Iraqi security forces are at different levels of readiness. Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. A large number can plan and execute anti-terrorist operations with coalition support. The rest are forming and not yet ready to participate fully in security operations. Our task is to make the Iraqi units fully capable and independent. We're building up Iraqi security forces as quickly as possible, so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents.

Our coalition is devoting considerable resources and manpower to this critical task. Thousands of coalition troops are involved in the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces. NATO is establishing a military academy near Baghdad to train the next generation of Iraqi military leaders, and 17 nations are contributing troops to the NATO training mission. Iraqi army and police are being trained by personnel from Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Today, dozens of nations are working toward a common objective: an Iraq that can defend itself, defeat its enemies, and secure its freedom.

To further prepare Iraqi forces to fight the enemy on their own, we are taking three new steps: First, we are partnering coalition units with Iraqi units. These coalition-Iraqi teams are conducting operations together in the field. These combined operations are giving Iraqis a chance to experience how the most professional armed forces in the world operate in combat.

Second, we are embedding coalition "transition teams" inside Iraqi units. These teams are made up of coalition officers and non-commissioned officers who live, work, and fight together with their Iraqi comrades. Under U.S. command, they are providing battlefield advice and assistance to Iraqi forces during combat operations. Between battles, they are assisting the Iraqis with important skills, such as urban combat, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques.

Third, we're working with the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense to improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations. We're helping them develop command and control structures. We're also providing them with civilian and military leadership training, so Iraq's new leaders can effectively manage their forces in the fight against terror.

The new Iraqi security forces are proving their courage every day. More than 2,000 members of Iraqi security forces have given their lives in the line of duty. Thousands more have stepped forward, and are now training to serve their nation. With each engagement, Iraqi soldiers grow more battle-hardened, and their officers grow more experienced. We've learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills. And that is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting, and then our troops can come home.

I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer.

- George W. Bush, President Addresses Nation, Discusses Iraq, War on Terror, June 28, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050628-7.html


Ultimately, it will be up to the Iraqi people -- not the United States, not the coalition -- to rebuild and secure their country. The mission of our coalition is to create an environment, where the Iraqis themselves can contain and ultimately defeat their insurgency.

...

Success for the coalition should not be defined as domestic tranquility in Iraq. Other democracies have had to contend with terrorism and insurgencies for a number of years, but they've been able to function and eventually succeed. As in difficult conflicts of the past, lasting progress and achievements do not come from reacting to headlines or chasing mercurial opinion polls. Setbacks are inevitable, and important victories are seldom won without risk, sacrifice and patience.

...

But there are so many variables that I would be reluctant to pretend that I could look into that crystal ball and say "x" number of months or "x" number of years. I can't.

One thing I do believe very deeply -- and I think I'll end up being right, you never know in life, but -- I honestly believe that this insurgency is going to be defeated by the Iraqi people and not by coalition countries and not by the United States, and that our task is to give them, the Iraqi peoples an environment within which they can do that.

And insurgencies can last periods of years, as we know from history, and countries can do just fine. They can continue and have elections, and go about their business; their economies can grow. And there can be a low-level insurgency. But in the last analysis, it's going to be defeated by the Iraqi people and by the Iraqi government and by the support of the people in deciding that that's not how they want to live their lives. They don't want to get up in the morning and go outside and risk being killed. They want to turn in the people that are misbehaving, and turn in the violent extremists who are trying to deny other people the right to live their lives in a reasonable way.

- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Press Briefing, June 27, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050627-secdef3161.html


``I think two years will be enough, and more than enough, to establish security in our country,'' [Iraqi Prime Minister] al-Jaafari told a news conference, using an interpreter. ``As far as the time needed, I think the time depends on many factors, first the development of the security forces. We are working on this.''

"Iraq Leader Foresees Security in 2 Years" By THOMAS WAGNER, June 27, 2005

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5102170,00.html

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005


There is a clear path to victory. It is a two-track strategy: there is the military and political track. On the military front, it's important to continue training and equipping the Iraqi security forces so that they're able to defend themselves, and then our troops can return home with the honor that they deserve. And then there is the political track. The Iraqi people are showing that they're determined to build a free and democratic and peaceful future, and we must continue to do all we can to support them as they build a lasting democracy.

...

The American people want to see our troops return home, but I think they understand the importance of succeeding in Iraq. And the President will talk about that in his remarks. I think we all want to see the troops come home sooner than later, and the way to get our troops home is to complete the mission.

...

And when the Iraqis are ready to assume full responsibility for their own security, then our troops will be able to return home.

- White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, June 27, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050627-3.html


WALLACE: Let's take a look at the big picture. One of the main criticisms of the administration right now is that you and other top officials this is the criticism have painted too rosy a picture of the situation in Iraq.

As you well know, Vice President Cheney has received a lot of attention for the following remarks, which we're putting up on the screen, about the enemy: "I think the level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Since then, a lot of administration officials, including the president, have danced around that comment. I'm going to ask you for a direct I'm going to ask a straight question and get a straight answer, I hope.

Is the insurgency in its last throes?

RUMSFELD: Well, you know, everybody's running around trying to make a division between what the vice president said or someone else said.

The fact is that if you look at the context of his remarks, last throes could be a violent last throe, just as well as a placid or calm last throe. Look it up in the dictionary.

Now, is that any different from what General Abizaid (search) said or General Casey (search)? No.

I mean, the insurgency is going on. It ebbs and flows. At the moment, the insurgents know they have a great deal to lose. The election was a big success. There's political progress. There's economic progress. The insurgency's been about level. And the progress on the political side is so threatening to the insurgents that my guess is it could become more violent between now and the constitution referendum and the election in December.

But does progress on the political side suggest that the insurgency ultimately will lose? I believe so, and I believe that others believe that. If you think about it, that's what General Abizaid said and General Casey and General Myers (search) all said yesterday, that they do not believe that there's a, quote, "quagmire" as people are trying to characterize it.

...

We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years. Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency. We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency.

- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on 'FOX News Sunday' with Chris Wallace, June 26, 2005

source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,160643,00.html

Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, LLC.


BLITZER: More suicide bombings in Mosul, dozens of individuals killed once again. People watching what's going on in Iraq have to ask, is there an end to this?

ABIZAID: Clearly, there is an end to this. The end comes when Iraqi security forces and Iraqi governance come together in such a way that they're able to dominate the insurgency. The end comes when the insurgency clearly understands and recognizes that they can't achieve any progress; the only thing they can achieve is killing innocent people. And so I am very clear in my understanding that we're moving in a good direction, as long as politics moves forward and Iraqi security forces move forward. But I'm also very realistic in understanding that there's a lot of violence ahead, especially as we move through the political process, and that the insurgents will try to challenge the government and the Iraqi security forces and American forces in an effort to break our will, and they do this by grabbing headlines.

BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is that the United States military alone can't crush this insurgency.

ABIZAID: I didn't say the United States military alone can't crush this insurgency. I wanted to make clear that crushing the insurgency has to do with the combination of politics, economics, military activity and diplomatic activity.

BLITZER: Would it make any difference -- let me rephrase the question -- if the U.S. had another 100,000 troops in Iraq?

ABIZAID: What we have to do is have the right number of troops in Iraq. We have the right number of troops in Iraq. We have to build Iraqi security forces so they are capable of taking the lead in the counter-insurgency operation. The strategy, really, is pretty simple, and it's pretty elegant, and General Casey has done a great job in developing it. We develop Iraqi security forces, we continue to give them experience, we connect the chain of command, we build good leadership, and over time they take the lead in the counter-insurgency fight. The insurgents can't beat us. We are very strong militarily. There seems to be some notion out there that we're going to be pushed into the sea. That's not going to be anything even close to what you might see.

BLITZER: But I assume they think that if they keep this drumbeat, this deadly series of suicide bombings, IEDs -- improvised explosive devices -- if they just keep killing a lot of individuals, Americans and Iraqis, eventually the American public will get fed up and the U.S. will pull out.

ABIZAID: There's only one way for the insurgents to win: That's to drive us out before the Iraqis are ready to assume the battle space. If that's what happens, they could win. But it's very, very clear to me that we're going to stay the course, that we're going to build Iraqi security capacity, that the Iraqis are serious about being a partner in this effort, and are very serious about taking over the effort. The insurgents can't win.

BLITZER: The vice president, Dick Cheney, recently said that the insurgency was now in its last throes. I pressed him on that issue when I interviewed him earlier this week. Here was his response in part.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at what the dictionary says about "throes," it can still be, you know, a violent period -- the throes of a revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is the insurgency right now in its last throes?

ABIZAID: The insurgency is in a no-win position. The insurgency can cause casualties, they can grab headline.

But as long as the politics move forward in a positive direction that is considered to be legitimate by the majority of the Iraqi people, and as long as Iraqi security forces continue to develop at the rate that they're developing, and as long as American forces continue to stay there to provide the strength for those Iraqi forces as they develop -- we are, after all, the shield behind which politics takes place -- the insurgency won't make it.

BLITZER: There has been discussion already, as you well know, of a quagmire emerging in Iraq. Senator Kennedy suggested there was a quagmire. The defense secretary, Don Rumsfeld, insists there is no quagmire. Listen to this exchange that they had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are in serious trouble in Iraq, and this war has been consistently and grossly mismanaged. And we are now in a seemingly intractable quagmire. Our troops are dying and there really is no end in sight.

DONALD H. RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There isn't a person at this table who agrees with you that we're in a quagmire and that there is no end in sight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Give us your assessment.

ABIZAID: It's very interesting that we testified on Capitol Hill for about nine hours and we take the nine-second sound bites out that seem to get the most headlines. But our message was pretty clear across the board. We're making progress. The insurgents can't win. We're the shield behind which politics and the development of Iraqi security forces will take place and eventually be decisive. And that we're in a partnership with the Iraqi people. People seem to think we're fighting against Iraqis. Well, there are some small number of insurgents that we're fighting against. But we're fighting with a lot more Iraqis day by day and they're giving their lives in defense of their country. This is not a quagmire. It is a marathon and we're at about the 21st mile, and we just need to not hit the wall. We need to get through to the end.

...

ABIZAID: The only thing I can tell you, Wolf, is when I go to the field, the soldiers are uniformly confident about their ability to face this enemy; make Iraq, Afghanistan, whatever area they happen to be operating in, better; defeat the terrorists wherever they find them, and they all understand it's going to take time. It's not a sprint; it's a marathon. We need people to understand that it'll take time, but that ultimately, we will prevail.

- Interview with commander of the U.S. military Central Command, General John Abizaidd, CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER, June 26, 2005

source: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/26/le.01.html


BLITZER: A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll had some very disturbing numbers from the U.S. administration's perspective and from your government's perspective as far as favoring the U.S.-led war in Iraq.After the war, in 2003, 71 percent of the American public favored the war, but now it's down to only 39 percent. How worried are you that, given the American public attitudes, the administration, the U.S. government might decide to simply pack up and leave?

AL-JAAFARI (through translator): As far as I'm concerned, I do not look at the Iraqi attitude -- the difference between me and others, I look at Iraq way from inside where others just look at it and they develop attitudes from a distance. I can tell you and I can reveal to you the realities in Iraq. The presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is not simply an Iraqi request. In fact, I would say it should be an American request for a simple reason. Terrorism that has prevailed in Iraq is not a threat against Iraq alone. It is a threat to the whole region and, in fact, it will be a threat to America.Terrorism affected you on September 11th. That was the first time when you were hit. Now you realize that terrorism is a global phenomenon. In Iraq, when we are trying to terminate terrorism, we are actually doing the whole world a service. The presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is not simply a service to Iraq. In fact it is a self- interest of the U.S. Once we terminate terrorism, I think it will make a lot of sense for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq. But to do it prematurely is simply leaving that field free for terrorism and it will come back to haunt the U.S.

BLITZER: How long do you believe, approximately, it will take for the U.S. troops to get the job done? In other words, when will they be able to start leaving?

AL-JAAFARI (through translator): The timing cannot be simply put on a time scale. Withdrawal can be linked to conditions, not to a timeline. It can be quickly. It depends on the capacity Iraqi police, their training, their arming, their intelligence. The more we can build them up in an effective way, the less reasons we have for having foreign troops in the country.If we simply were to put a timeline for it irrespective of the ability of the Iraqi forces, we are simply handing this back to the terrorists and letting Iraq down and then creating a problem. If we focus more at the condition of the country, then I think that is a responsible way of dealing with it. Otherwise it will be perceived as yielding to terrorism.

- Interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER, June 26, 2005

source:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/26/le.01.html


"But the wonderful men and women serving in uniform over there know they’re doing noble work; they know that they’re making progress. And there’s not a doubt in mind that they’re going to look back in 5, 10, 15 years and be proud of having been a part of a truly historic accomplishment."

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Media Availability after ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous, June 26, 2005

source: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050626-secdef3141.html

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


Q: There’s some – (inaudible) -- suggestion that the insurgency may not keep for another year. Do you have any estimate of when the tide is going to turn?

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, I don’t. I think that it’s reasonable to suggest that the insurgency and the terrorists see progress being made politically. They see the elections were successful. Now they see that the Sunnis are involved the drafting of the constitution along with the Kurds and the Shi’as.

That’s got to be disappointing to them. They also see the constitutional referendum coming up later this year in October and the election in December. And if those are successful, it’s a terrible blow to the terrorists that want to take that country back to beheadings and darkness. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the level of the insurgency go up and the lethality go up between now and the period of the elections in December.

...

SEC. RUMSFELD: This message business is not my field, but the truth is the truth. The fact is we’re making progress politically. We’re making progress over there from an economic standpoint. Having a democracy in Iraq will be a truly historic achievement, and the men and women in the Armed Forces will look back in 5 or 10 or 15 years at the accomplishment and feel great pride in what they’ve done.

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donadl Rumsfeld, Media Availability after NBC's Meet The Press, June 26, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050626-secdef3143.html

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t do retooling messages. The facts are the facts. We’ve been telling the facts and we are where we are and it’s going pretty darn well with the political process, with economic progress being made, the Iraqi security forces are increasingly large and more competent. The Iraqi people have confidence in the Iraqi security forces. They’re not ready to take over security yet, but they will be at some point in the future. And I guess the only message we have is the truth.

...

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, the insurgency will be put down by the Iraqi people over time. It won’t be won by the coalition forces. Foreigners don’t defeat insurgencies. What will happen is at a certain moment it will be at a level that the Iraqi security forces can handle it, and they will then assume that responsibility. And then over some period of time they will defeat the insurgency because the insurgency will be increasingly seen to be against the Iraqi people. And that’s how that happens in history.

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Media Availability after Fox News Sunday, June 26, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050626-secdef3142.html

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


SCHIEFFER: When do you think, General--you say they will be able one day to handle this themselves. Can you give us just some sort of estimate on how far along you are? When, for example, will we no longer have to have--take part in the ground war? Let's say we can still give them air support and supply support. But when do you think the Iraqi forces can take over the ground fighting? When will they be ready?

Gen. ABIZAID: When they will be ready is difficult to say because a part of the insurgency is fueled by the political process. If we have legitimacy in the political process, if the Sunni Arab community participates in a way that's meaningful, if people view that process as being legitimate, we'll be able to more--to much earlier turn over responsibilities to Iraqi security forces.

SCHIEFFER: But you can't give us any estimate on when that will be? I mean...

Gen. ABIZAID: Look, I...

SCHIEFFER: ...I'm not asking for a date on the calendar, just...

Gen. ABIZAID: No, certainly. But, Bob, I would say that it's clear to me that by the middle of--the early part of spring next year to the summer of next year, you'll see Iraqi security forces move into the lead in the counterinsurgency fight. That doesn't mean that I'm saying we'll come home by then. We'll have to judge how they're doing, how the political process is, how the situation is abroad. Let's face it. You know, we've got a lot of insurgents that are coming over from the Syrian border. They're not pouring across. They're coming across.

...

Gen. ABIZAID: ... ultimately, it's not going to be American combat power that wins the insurgency. Insurgencies take a long time. The idea is to take Americans who are in the lead in the fighting of the counterinsurgency right now, and bring up Iraqis who are preparing, getting themselves up to speed militarily, bring them to the front.

...

Gen. ABIZAID: Americans need to be patient. They need to understand that as Iraqi security forces and Afghan security forces become more capable that they'll take on more of the burden. We don't need to have the same numbers of troops in the region now--that we have now 10 years from now or five years from now or even two years from now.

- General JOHN ABIZAID, Commander, US Central Command on Face the Nation (CBS News) - Sunday, June 26, 2005

source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/face_062605.pdf

© 2005 CBS Broadcasting Inc.


Oh, I think you'll see the coalition forces being reduced over time, and I think-- anyone who tries to set a timetable, I think is making a mistake because there are a series of variables. And let me get them up on the table. One variable is the numbers and quality of the Iraqi security forces. Another variable is the intensity of the insurgency. Another variable is the behavior of Syria and Iran, the extent to which they are causing problems, sending in more terrorists and more insurgents. And it's the interaction of all of those things that will determine the pace at which forces can be reduced and removed.

...

Anyone who tries to estimate the end, the time, the cost or the casualties in a war is making a big mistake. You don't--war is your absolute last choice and you don't, as George Washington said, make a decision to use war unless you're willing to stick with it. And the president of the United States and the men and women out there serving are convinced that progress is being made and that we will be successful. And those that are running around saying that we're losing or that it's a quagmire are flat wrong.

- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS, June 26, 2005

source:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8332675/

© 2005 MSNBC.com


The military track of our strategy is to defeat the terrorists and continue helping Iraqis take greater responsibility for defending their freedom. The images we see on television are a grim reminder that the enemies of freedom in Iraq are ruthless killers with no regard for human life. The killers include members of Saddam Hussein's regime, criminal elements and foreign terrorists. The terrorists know that Iraq is a central front in the war on terror, because they know that a stable and democratic Iraq will deal a severe blow to their ideology of oppression and fear.

...

Yet democracy is moving forward, and more and more Iraqis are defying the terrorists by joining the democratic process. Our military strategy is clear: We will train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their freedom and protect their people, and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned.

The political track of our strategy is to continue helping Iraqis build the institutions of a stable democracy. The Iraqi people have taken landmark steps by voting in free elections and forming a representative government. Prime Minister Jaafari has assured me that his government is committed to meeting its deadline to draft a new constitution for a free Iraq. Then the constitution will be submitted to the Iraqi people for approval, and new elections will be held to choose a fully constitutional government.

...

Our nation's mission in Iraq is difficult, and we can expect more tough fighting in the weeks and months ahead. Yet I am confident in the outcome. The Iraqi people are growing in optimism and hope. They understand that the violence is only a part of the reality in Iraq. Each day, Iraqis are exercising new freedoms that they were denied for decades. Schools, hospitals, roads, and post offices are being built to serve the needs of all Iraqis. Increasing numbers of Iraqis are overcoming their fears and working actively to defeat the insurgents. And every Iraqi who chooses the side of freedom has chosen the winning side.

Americans can be proud of all that we and our coalition partners have accomplished in Iraq. Our country has been tested before, and we have a long history of resolve and faith in the cause of freedom. Now we will see that cause to victory in Iraq. A democratic Iraq will be a powerful setback to the terrorists who seek to harm our nation. A democratic Iraq will be a great triumph in the history of liberty. And a democratic Iraq will be a source of peace for our children and grandchildren.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, June 25, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050625.html


The enemy's goal is to drive us out of Iraq before the Iraqis have established a secure, democratic government. They will not succeed. Our goal is clear: a democratic and peaceful Iraq that represents all Iraqis. Our troops will continue to train Iraqi security forces so these forces can defend their country and to protect their people from terror. And as Iraqis become more capable in defending their nation, our troops will eventually return home with the honor they have earned.

...

So we're optimistic. We're optimistic that more and more Iraqi troops are becoming better trained to fight the terrorists. We're optimistic about the constitutional process. There is a political track that's moving forward in parallel with the security track. No question about -- it's difficult. I mean, we hear it every day, of course. So do you, you report it every day. It's tough work. And it's hard. The hardest part of my job is to comfort the family members who have lost a loved one, which I intend to do when I go down to North Carolina on Tuesday.

But nevertheless, progress is being made, and the defeat of the enemy -- and they will be defeated -- will be accelerated by the progress on the ground in Iraq that -- the establishment of a democratic state that listens to the hopes and aspirations of all the people in Iraq will lead to the defeat of this enemy. And so that's what this administration believes, and we firmly believe it is going to happen.

...

There's not going to be any timetables. I mean, I've told this to the Prime Minister. We are there to complete a mission, and it's an important mission. A democratic Iraq is in the interest of the United States of America, and it's in the interest of laying the foundation for peace. And if that's the mission, then why would you -- why would you say to the enemy, you know, here's a timetable, just go ahead and wait us out? It doesn't make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you're -- you're conceding too much to the enemy.

This is an enemy that will be defeated. And it's -- so I'm not exactly sure who made that proposition, but I would -- you don't have to worry, Mr. Prime Minister, about timetables. And we want to work with you to continue to build up the Iraqi forces. See, success will happen in Iraq when the political process moves forward, like it is. Again, I remind you all, maybe four months -- anyway, the beginning of the winter, there was a lot of people here in the country that never thought the elections would go forward. They thought the enemy had the upper hand because of the death and destruction that we saw on our TV screens. They said, well, can't possibly be elections. The Iraqi people don't want to be free. And, you know, these killers are going to stop the elections. And sure enough, over 8 million people voted because they do want to be free. And so success will occur as this political process continues to move forward. And we spent time talking about making sure that Sunnis were a part of the pro

We made sure we talked about making sure that people's points of view are represented, making sure that we stay on -- the only timetable that I think is going to -- that I know is out there is the timetable that says let's have the constitution written by a certain date, and let's have it ratified by a certain date, and let's have the election by a certain date. That's the timetable. And we're going to stay on that timetable. And it's important for the Iraqi people to know we are.

And the second track is to have Iraqis take the fight to the enemy. And we're slowly but surely getting this training completed. And so we spent time today not only hearing about the conditions on the ground and the nature of the enemy from Generals Abizaid and General Casey, but we also talked about progress in the training mission. And we are making good progress when it comes training Iraqis. One of the interesting statistics as to whether or not the Iraqis want to join the fight is whether or not they're able to recruit Iraqis to join the army. And recruitment is high. In other words, Iraqis do want to be a part of the process.

And so part of the coalition's job is to give these Iraqi units the training necessary to be able to fight the terrorists. That's our strategy. And it is working and it is going to work, for the good of the country.

...

Overseas, the idea of helping a country that had been devastated by a tyrant become a democracy is also a difficult chore, and it's hard work, particularly since there's an enemy that is willing to use suicide bombers to kill. It's hard to stop suicide bombers, and it's hard to stop these people that, in many cases, are being smuggled into Iraq from outside Iraq. It's hard to stop them. And yet they're able to do incredible damage. They're damaging not only -- you know, they're obviously killing Americans, but they're killing a lot more Iraqis. And their whole attempt is to frighten the people of both our countries. That's what they're trying to do.

In other words, they figure if they can shake our will and affect public opinion, then politicians will give up on the mission. I'm not giving up on the mission. We're doing the right thing, which is to set the foundation for peace and freedom. And I understand why the al Qaeda network, for example, is to terrified about democracy, because democracy is the opposite of what they believe. Their ideology is one of oppression and hate. Democracy is one that lifts up people and is based upon hope.

- George W. Bush, President Welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Jaafari to the White House, June 24, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050624.html


THE VICE PRESIDENT ... we're making progress in terms of training up Iraq security forces. I think the months immediately ahead will be difficult months. I think there will be a lot of violence, a lot of bloodshed because I think the terrorists will do everything they can to try to disrupt that process, and that flow of -- that's well underway. But I think it is well underway. I think it is going to be accomplished, that we will, in fact, succeed in getting a democracy established in Iraq. And I think when we do that will be the end of the insurgency.

...

But I think we're strong enough to defeat them. And I think the process itself of establishing a democracy and a viable security force for the Iraqis will, in fact, signal the end, if you will, for the terrorists inside Iraq.

...

Q Do you want to offer an assessment how much longer this insurgency will continue?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. No, I can't say that, but I do believe because this has happened in the past, we've seen these political milestones are very important. When we transferred sovereign authority to the Iraqis a year ago, very important. When we held those elections last January, very important.

The President has been insistent, and I think, properly so in pushing forward on getting these things done. A lot of people said you can't possibly hold elections in January. Others said if you hold elections, there'll be a civil war. None of that came to pass. In fact, we held the elections. The President insisted on it. The Iraqis did a great job. And I think that the success of the venture ultimately turns upon establishing a viable government in Iraq. And I think we're well on our way to doing that, much farther down the road than we were six months or a year ago.

Q But is this going to be a time frame within a year, two years, five years, how much longer will this insurgency require the troop level of the United States in Iraq right now?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think the way to think about it is defining it in terms of achieving certain conditions on the ground. We don't want to stay a day longer than necessary, but we want to stay long enough to get the job done. And the key here from the standpoint of the security situation is getting the Iraqis into a position where they can take care of their own security --

Q The Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has told me he thinks that by 2006, the U.S. can start to significantly reduce its troop level. Do you agree with him?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope he's correct. But again, we've been very careful not to put a time line on it and say we'll be through by X date where we can begin to bring the troops home by a certain date. We can begin to do that once the Iraqis are in a position to be able to provide for their own security. Now, there'll probably be a continued U.S. presence there for some considerable period of time because there's some things we do they can't do, for example, air support, some of our intelligence and communications and logistics capabilities. But I think the bulk of the effort will increasingly be taken on by Iraqi forces. We've got about 160,000 now that are trained and equipped. They're increasingly more and more capable. We've got more and more of them fielded. They'll take on a bigger and bigger role in terms the ongoing struggle against the insurgents and simultaneously with that, we'll have the political process going forward, as it is demonstrated that we're already able to do that. And once we get to the point where we have a freely elected Iraqi government under a constitution written by Iraqis representative of everybody living in Iraq, Shia, Sunni, Kurd, then I think we'll have created the conditions and circumstances that will make it possible for us to begin to draw down our forces. But I think about it in terms of those conditions being achieved rather than a specific time line.

...

And I would submit to you today that we'll succeed in Iraq just like we did in Afghanistan. We'll stand up a new government under an Iraqi drafted constitution, we'll defeat the insurgency. And in fact, it will be an enormous success story that will have a huge impact, not just in Iraq but throughout the region.

...

Interview of the Vice President Dick Cheney by Wolf Blitzer, CNN, June 23, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050623-8.html


The President’s strategy is clear -- to empower the democratically elected Iraqi government:

• To aggressively go after the insurgents and terrorists -- and that is exactly what their forces are doing with solid success;

• To pursue an inclusive constitutional political process;

• To improve public services and, with the help of the international community, improve the quality of life for the Iraqi people; and

• To enable Iraq’s security forces to take charge of their own country.

Each of these strategies depends on the others. Success will require patience and progress on each of the four.

...

Finally, the question is asked: when can the Coalition leave? And should Congress establish a deadline to withdraw?

Some in Congress have suggested that deadlines be set for withdrawal. That would be a terrible mistake. It would throw a lifeline to terrorists who in recent months have suffered significant losses in casualties, been denied havens, and suffered weakened popular support. Let me be clear: the United States made a commitment to finish the job and we must do so. Timing in war is never predictable -- there are no guarantees. We can and will prevail, but only if we persevere. Any who say we have lost or are losing are flat wrong. We are not.

Coalition military personnel are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and consistent with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546. The objectives of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis and the Coalition are the same: a peaceful and prosperous Iraq with a representative government. Even today, that is a radical notion in the Middle East. And the fact that that is a new approach is going to result in occasional confusion, resistance, and difficulties. We understand that.

Iraq was a violent place long before its liberation, and there may undoubtedly be some violence in Iraq after Coalition forces depart. But success in this effort cannot be defined as domestic tranquility. Rather, success will be when there is a free Iraq, where Iraqis are the guarantors of their own security, with minimal Coalition involvement. And that will be a truly historic accomplishment.

The amount of time this will take is not knowable.

The timing must be condition based. It will depend on:

• The extent to which various ethnic factions reconcile -- and they are now doing so in impressive ways;

• The level of support from the international community -- and it is growing. The U.N. and NATO, for example, are increasing their commitments. And the international conference on Iraq that recently took place in Brussels elicited strong political statements of support for the emerging Iraqi democracy;

• And the timing will also depend on Iraq’s neighbors, whose behavior continues to be unhelpful.

- DONALD H. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, JUNE 23, 2005 (STATEMENT AS PREPARED)

source:  http://armed-services.senate.gov/statemnt/2005/June/Rumsfeld%2006-23-05.pdf


Q On Iraq, the speech next Tuesday, should we expect a sort of assessment on the strategy or any change in strategy? Can you give us any idea or any sense of what that might be --

MR. McCLELLAN: The speech is still several days away. It's too early to preview the speech. But as I indicated to you previously, that the President will continue to keep the American people informed about the progress that we're making on the ground in Iraq, the difficulties and dangers that remain and that lie ahead, as well as the strategy for succeeding in Iraq. We are making important progress, the Iraqi people are making important progress. But there are dangers that remain. And that's why we need to continue training the Iraqi security -- we need to continue to support the Iraqi people as they move forward on the political process. We also need to continue training Iraqi security forces so that they will be able to defend themselves and then our troops can return home with the honor that they deserve. But again, the speech is in very early stages at this point.

- Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, June 22, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050622-1.html


"...the conference is an opportunity to build really a kind of new international partnership for Iraq. I think that the war is now behind us, the transfer of sovereignty has taken place, the Iraqis have impressed everybody with the elections and then the formation of a government and now they're in the constitutional writing phase. And so it's an apt time for the international community to join forces to support what the Iraqis are now going to do."

- Secretary Condoleezza Rice, En Route to Brussels, Belgium, June 21, 2005

source:  http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/48430.htm


"...[our military personell are] going to look back in five or ten years and see a free Iraqi people, that's a country at peace with its neighbors, that's respectful of women and respectful of all the minorities in that country, and they're going to be darn proud of their service in the United States military."

- Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with David Kelso, KOKC-AM/KRXO-FM, Oklahoma City, Okla, June 21, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050621-secdef3101.html


"If you think about it, these folks are over there doing a superb job for our country. They're fighting terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here at home. They're doing it in a highly professional and successful way. They're making progress. They're making progress politically and economically and they're going to make progress from the development of the Iraqi security forces. And when they look back in five to ten years they're going to be so proud of the noble work they've done to help liberate 25 million Iraqi people, and turn a country that was sponsoring terrorism into a country that's respectful of women, respectful of the various minority groups and that's at peace with its neighbors."

- Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Tony Snow, Fox News Radio "Tony Snow Show"

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050621-secdef3102.html


Q Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary? And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Adam, I think about Iraq every day -- every single day -- because I understand we have troops in harm's way, and I understand how dangerous it is there. And the reason it's dangerous is because there's these cold-blooded killers that will kill Americans or kill innocent Iraqis in order to try to drive us out of Iraq. I spoke to our commanders today -- Commander Abizaid today, and will be speaking to General Casey here this week, getting an assessment as to how we're proceeding. We're making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq, and on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves. And the report from the field is that while it's tough, more and more Iraqis are becoming battle-hardened and trained to defend themselves. And that's exactly the strategy that's going to work. And it is going to work. And we will -- we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace.

And you just heard the EU is willing to host this conference with the United States in order to help this new democracy move forward. And the reason why is many countries understand that freedom in the heart of the Middle East will make this world more peaceful.

And so, you know, I think about this every day, every single day, and will continue thinking about it, because I understand we've got kids in harm's way. And I worry about their families; and I obviously, any time there's a death, I grieve. But I want those families to know, one, we're not going to leave them -- not going to allow their mission to go in vain; and, two, we will complete the mission and the world will be better off for it.

- President Bush Hosts United States - European Union Summit, June 20, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050620-19.html


Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from their country in a letter released to the media June 19.

The move comes as U.S. President George W. Bush is under increasing domestic pressure to set a timetable for the pullout of American forces in the face of an increasing death toll at the hands of insurgents.

Eighty-two Shiite, Kurdish, Sunni Arab, Christian and communist deputies made the call in a letter sent by Falah Hassan Shanshal of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the largest group in parliament, to speaker Hajem al-Hassani.

Some of those who signed urged that a detailed timetable be established for the withdrawal.

There are currently about 160,000 foreign troops in Iraq, including a 138,000-strong U.S. force, which has borne the brunt of attacks against coalition forces.

In the letter, Shanshal said the 275-member parliament was the Iraqi people’s legitimate representative and guardian of their interests.

”We have asked in several sessions for occupation troops to withdraw,” the letter said. “Our request was ignored.”

”It is dangerous that the Iraqi government has asked the U.N. Security Council to prolong the stay of occupation forces without consulting representatives of the people who have the mandate for such a decision.

”Therefore we must reject the occupation’s legitimacy and renew our demand for these forces to withdraw,” the letter added.

The U.N. Security Council agreed on May 31 to extend the mandate of multinational forces in Iraq “until the completion of the political process” following a request from the Iraqi government.

”Iraqi security forces have managed to break the back of terrorist groups and maintain security in the streets of Iraq, and have gained the trust of Iraqi citizens to arrive at their final goal, total sovereignty for Iraq.”

Iraqi Lawmakers Call for Foreign Troops to Withdraw, By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BAGHDAD

source:  http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=925971&C=mideast


A large minority of Iraqi legislators Sunday demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces from Iraq.

A memorandum signed by 83 MPs in the 275-seat National Assembly was submitted to the House speaker Sunday in which they blasted the Iraqi government's request to the U.N. Security Council to extend the presence of the foreign forces in the country.

None of the legislators in the elected parliament, dominated by Kurds and Shiites, objected to the memorandum, which was read by one of the signatories.

The memo described the request to the Security Council, submitted by Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zibari, as an "attempt to legitimize the American occupation of Iraq."

They blasted the Iraqi government for seeking the extension to the occupation without consulting with the National Assembly.

The signatories insisted there was no justification for coalition forces to remain after the Iraqi security forces "took control and imposed their authority in the Iraqi street by breaking the back of terrorism."

Some Iraqi legislators seek U.S. pullout, By Sana Abdallah, United Press International, Jun. 19, 2005

source: http://washingtontimes.com/upi/20050619-063329-9419r.htm


Q: If I could just follow up on that. How long do you think that's going to take? A year, two years, five?

GEN. VINES: It'll be a continuous process. And that is not my primary area of focus. I use the forces that the bureaucracy sustains and fields. And so I have less visibility on that. Other agencies are working that, and we've seen progress. But I suspect they will be working at still developing capacity a couple years from now. That would be my guess.

STAFF ?: (Go ahead ?), Jim Mannion.

Q: General, Jim Mannion from Agence France-Presse. There have been two basic views of the insurgency expressed. One is that it's in its last throes, and the other is that it's going to be -- this is a situation that's going to continue for years. Where do you see it?

GEN. VINES: The solution to the insurgency in Iraq is not a purely political solution. It has to be a government that's acceptable to the broad populace as a group. That has to be acceptable -- Sunni, Shi'a, Kurd and other elements. And if that government, if the transitional government has the wisdom to oversee the constitutional drafting and drafts a constitution that is acceptable to the larger segments of the population and is ratified -- I mean, my assessment is the insurgency could dwindle down very quickly. And that remains to be seen what form the constitution will take.

It could be sustained militarily for a period of time. Our responsibility is to provide space and time for this process to work, so that this new government and the constitutional process, the election process, is allowed to proceed without being murdered in its infancy by insurgents who don't want to see it succeed.

The Iraqi security forces are making good progress, but the solution ultimately will be a political one, of course.

...

Q: Yes, General. This is Vince Crawley with the Army Times. There's some members of Congress who have suggested a phased timeline for U.S. withdrawal, in part to energize the Iraqi government that you've spoken about. Have you given any thought to planning, if you had a timeline for withdrawal imposed? And what would that do to you?

GEN. VINES: Well, we continually assess what would happen if we were -- if we had to change conditions. And part of the change in conditions would be -- we're required to draw down. So I would be opposed to announcing the timeline. Certainly, we know what the timelines would be if we said we want to come down a certain number of brigade combat team equivalents. But I would be opposed to announcing a timeline in advance, because that's not conditions-based. That's not based on the conditions on the ground, that's an arbitrary decision that's just based on a calendar. And I don't think that necessarily meshes with the conditions we might see here in-country.

Briefing on Security Operations in Iraq

Presenter: Lieutenant General John R. Vines, Commander, Multinational Corps Iraq , June 21, 2005

source: http://www.dod.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050621-3081.html

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC


"We're also making important progress to train and equip the Iraqi security forces so that they can defend their country. There are now some 168,000 Iraqi forces that have been trained and equipped. Now, there's different levels of readiness, and the Department of Defense can talk to you about their levels of readiness when it comes to that. Some have been performing better than others, and we are working to address areas where there might be shortcomings. But they continue to get better each week. And once they are fully capable of defending themselves, then our troops can return home with the honor that they deserve."

- White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, June 20, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050620-20.html


BLITZER: There's a Gallup poll on Iraq -- let's switch gears and talk a little bit about Iraq -- suggesting that increasingly Americans would like to see the U.S. start withdrawing troops from Iraq. In February 49 percent said yes. Now it's up to 59 percent. And there are some members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, calling for an exit strategy, an end date, when are you going to start pulling troops out.

Do you support having a timetable for the start of a U.S. military withdrawal?

RICE: What we need, Wolf, is recognition that we are moving toward a day when coalition forces are, indeed, going to be not needed for a lot of these tasks and where they can certainly start to come home. We really look forward to that day.

But that has to be a day when the Iraqis are capable of carrying out the important security functions themselves. And we're not talking about the Iraqis having to be capable of meeting a massive army. We're talking about counter-terrorism operations.

They're being trained for those now. They're carrying those out jointly with us up on the Syrian border as we speak. They have carried out protection operations as their elections took place, just in January.

So they're making progress. And as they make progress, then you will see fewer and fewer coalition forces engaged and fewer and fewer coalition forces needed. And that is absolutely our desire as well as, I think, the desire of the American people.

But insurgencies are defeated not just militarily. They're defeated politically, as well. And so you have to look also at the tremendous progress that the Iraqis are making on the political front, having held one election, writing a constitution now and getting ready for elections again in December.

The insurgency cannot continue to exist if it loses the Iraqi people. And with every day, the Iraqi people see their future in their political process, not in some alternative. And since the only alternative that the so-called insurgents and the terrorists are actually offering is to continue carnage, to continue blowing up innocent Iraqis, including a few days ago, school children. That's not an alternative that the Iraqi people desire.

So the most important blow to the insurgency is that they're losing the Iraqi people.

- Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, June 19, 2005

source:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/19/le.01.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP


Sen. BIDEN: ...We need time. There's one last shot at getting this right in Iraq. It's gonna take at least a year to another two years and I think you better start to level with the American people about it because if you don't you're going to see more of what you're seeing out there now. The American people concluding in larger numbers that this is not winnable so why are they going to sacrifice their sons and daughters for something they think there's not a real plan for?

SCHIEFFER: Karen?

Ms. KAREN TUMULTY (Time): There's a lot of talk on the Hill suddenly about an exit strategy. You're going to be giving a speech in a few days talking about setting benchmarks for succeeding in Iraq.

Sen. BIDEN: Yes.

Ms. TUMULTY: But with everything going in the direction that you say it is, how can you-- you say you're not in favor of a timetable for getting out. But what if you set benchmarks and we don't meet those benchmarks?

Sen. BIDEN: Then I think you end up in a circumstance where it becomes clear to everyone that without setting a timetable, you're going to have to leave. But the fact is I think it can still be won, Karen.

Ms. TUMULTY: What are the chances? What are the odds at this point?

Sen. BIDEN: The chances--60 percent, if we do everything right. But there's still a chance--I know what--I feel very strongly, absent a change in the politics at home, meaning leveling with the American people, or not leveling, and absent a change in policy on the ground, meaning change in the way we distribute the money, going for low-level projects, not big ones, employing Iraqis, getting more forces trained more quickly, bringing in those who have agreed to train Iraqi forces, other nations, and allow them to participate in this process, getting the Sunnis more involved in the process by bringing in the new national community to put pressure on them to do that. Absent those things happening, I think there is virtually no shot that we're going to end up a year from now with an elected government that has the capacity to maintain order and security within a defined country.

Ms. TUMULTY: So do you think the administration is telling the American people the truth?

Sen. BIDEN: No, they're not telling the truth. Look, I try to put the--let me put the best face on this as I can. Why would the vice president say what he said? Well, why would Secretary Rice characterize it the way she says it when I don't know anybody who believes that to be the case? `The last throes.' `We're almost there.' `Great progress.' Only thing I can figure is they don't trust the American people. I mean, I've been saying on this program, and God love you, you've had me on this program a lot over the last two years, that I think the American people know how tough this is going to be. I think the American people if you lay out a plan and tell them the truth about how hard it's going to be and why you think it's important, they'll stick. I think the administration figures they've got to paint a rosy picture in order to keep the American people in the game, and the exact opposite is happening. The exact opposite. Otherwise, I believe with all due respect they're either not fully informed or, well, they won't care.

- Senator JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE), on Face the Nation (CBS News) - Sunday, June 19, 2005

source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/face_061905.pdf

© MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc.


I don't think Americans believe that we should cut and run out of Iraq by any stretch of the imagination. But I think they also would like to be told, in reality, what's going on and, by the way, I think part of that is it's going to be, at least, a couple more years.

MR. RUSSERT: A couple more years.

SEN. McCAIN: At least.

...

... Because, as you say, and everybody knows, the exit strategy from Iraq is not a time or a date. The exit strategy from Iraq is clearly the Iraqis being able to take over the responsibilities and the casualties, for policing and ensuring security in their own country.

Look, nobody cares--in fact, I'm kind of glad that American troops are in South Korea. Why? Because there's no Americans in combat. So it's not a matter of time and date of withdraw. It's a matter of Iraqis being able to assume the responsibilities for the security of their own nation. And, again, I think we should tell people it's not going to be a short--I'd rather say two or three years, and be surprised a year from now, than say, "Everything's fine," and then be disappointed a year or two from now.

...

MR. RUSSERT: Bottom line: What should President Bush say to the country about Iraq right now

SEN. McCAIN: "It's going to be a long, hard slog. And I'm asking for your patience. And the consequences of failure are catastrophic. The benefits of success, we're already seeing in some parts of the Middle East. And we have had some success. We're now in the process of a constitution in Iraq. We have had an election that Iraqis proved, contrary to some cynics' view, that Iraqis were willing to even risk their lives in order to vote. We're forming a constitution. We will stick to the guidelines of: August 15, the constitution; October 15, ratification of it; and December 15, an election of an Iraqi government. We will stay the course and we will do whatever is necessary in order to succeed."

- Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on MSNBC's Meet the Press, June 19, 2005

source:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8245636/

© 2005 MSNBC.com


WALLACE: Secretary Rice, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday." New polls show growing doubts among Americans about the U.S. involvement in Iraq, and I'd like to take a look at the numbers with you if I can. In the latest Gallup poll, 56 percent of those surveyed say they no longer think it was worth going to war in Iraq. And 59 percent say the U.S. should now withdraw some or all of our troops. And then this week, a small group of Republican and Democratic congressmen called for troop withdrawal starting next year. Can the Bush administration fairly be criticized for failing to level with the American people about how long and difficult this commitment will be?

SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: The most important point about Iraq is that it was time to deal with Saddam Hussein and to create conditions in this very important region, this very volatile region, that would help bring about a different kind of Middle East so that the United States can be secure. The Middle East came home to us on September 11 in ways that we never expected. And without change in this region, we're going to continue to fight terrorists for a very, very long time. Now, we have a different kind of Iraq. It is still a young Iraq, a young, democratic Iraq. But if you look at the progress that they have made on the political front -- the turnover of sovereignty, the creation of a transitional administrative law, elections in January of this year, a constitutional committee now to write a constitution, and they will have elections in December -- they've made very rapid progress. And so the administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq. But it is not a generational commitment in military terms; it is a commitment of our support to them, our political support and an understanding that democracy takes time. But they're making very rapid progress. In terms of the security situation, yes, there are a few terrorists and so-called insurgents who are plying their wares in a way that gets a lot of attention. They can create a lot of havoc, wreak a lot of havoc, create carnage against innocent Iraqis and against the coalition. But they in time are going to realize, I think they may already realize, that as this political process goes forward, as more and more Iraqis are involved every day in the politics, they are the outliers. They're the ones who are keeping the Iraqis from doing what they wish to do. And just one other point, Chris: The security forces of Iraq are getting better. We're making progress, making steady progress. They're not yet ready but they are taking over every day more and more of what the coalition has done. And that will mean that there is less need for coalition forces. We are having success against the Zarqawi network, having picked up one of his key lieutenants just the other day. So I would say to the American people: Yes, this is very hard and very difficult. But we are making a lot of progress on what is going to be a strategic breakthrough for the United States, which is to have a different kind of Middle East.

- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 'FOX News Sunday' with Chris Wallace, June 19, 2005

source:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,160008,00.html

Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, LLC


As we work to deliver opportunity at home, we're also keeping you safe from threats from abroad. We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. These foreign terrorists violently oppose the rise of a free and democratic Iraq, because they know that when we replace despair and hatred with liberty and hope, they lose their recruiting grounds for terror.

Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home. We mourn every one of these brave men and women who have given his or her life for our liberty. The terrorists know they cannot defeat our troops, so they seek to weaken our nation's resolve. They know there is no room for them in a free and democratic Middle East, so the terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people.

Time and again, the Iraqi people have defied the skeptics who claim they are not up to the job of building a free society. Nearly a year ago, Iraqis showed they were ready to resume sovereignty. A few months ago, Iraqis showed they could hold free elections. This week, Iraqis have worked on an agreement to expand their constitutional drafting committee to ensure that all communities are represented in the process. I am confident that Iraqis will continue to defy the skeptics as they build a new Iraq that represents the diversity of their nation and assumes greater responsibility for their own security. And when they do, our troops can come home with the honor they have earned.

This mission isn't easy, and it will not be accomplished overnight. We're fighting a ruthless enemy that relishes the killing of innocent men, women, and children. By making their stand in Iraq, the terrorists have made Iraq a vital test for the future security of our country and the free world. We will settle for nothing less than victory.

I'll continue to act to keep our people safe from harm and our future bright. Together we will do what Americans have always done: build a better and more peaceful world for our children and grandchildren.

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, June 18, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050618.html


Q When you talk about the President having a sharper focus on Iraq, at the same time that a lot of public opinion polls are showing greater concern among citizens and worries about what's happening there, and some lawmakers calling for a more specific exit strategy, when you say, sharper focus, what specifically should we expect to hear from you?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. Well, the President is going to spend -- well, let me back up and talk about it, and then you can follow up with any specific questions you have. The President is going to spend more time focusing, in his public appearances, on the two big priorities that are on the minds of the American people. Those are winning the war on terrorism, of which Iraq is central, and economic security, making sure that we have lasting prosperity.

When it comes to Iraq, the President looks forward next week to meeting with Prime Minister Jaafari, who will be here in Washington. He was the elected --- first elected leader of Iraq in some 50 years. He was chosen when the 8.5 million Iraqis showed up at the polls and said, we're going to defy the terrorists. So the President recognizes that the war on terrorism, Iraq specifically, and the economy, are two top concerns on the minds of the American people. They are two top priorities for the President.

And we are also coming up on some important milestones and events in Iraq. One, on June 28th, that's going to mark the one-year anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people. And in that one-year period, there has been significant progress on the political front. And, two, the interim government -- interim elected government is moving forward on drafting a constitution on the timetable of August 15th, which was set out in the transitional administrative law.

So that's where the President will be focusing on, those two priorities. I didn't get into length about economic security. You were asking specifically about Iraq. People are concerned about the situation in Iraq. There are scores of troops that we have in harm's way, and there are many families here at home that want to see those troops come home and come home soon. We want to, too. The President wants to see the troops come home soon. But the best way to honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform is to complete the mission.

Iraq is critical to winning the war on terrorism. It is critical to our long-term security here at home. A free Iraq will help transform a dangerous region of the world. A free Iraq will send a signal to the rest of the Middle East, those who -- the people in the Middle East who are standing up for freedom. And so the President will be talking about this. He will be continuing to update the American people about the progress that we are making, the difficulties and dangers that remain, and the strategy we have for succeeding. And that means training Iraqi security forces so that they're able to defend themselves and so that our troops can return with the honor that they deserve.

The stakes are very high in Iraq. I think no matter where you stood on the decision to go to war, that most Americans can agree that succeeding in Iraq is critical to our safety and security. It would be absolutely the wrong message to send to set some sort of artificial timetable. It would be the wrong message to send to the terrorists; it would be the wrong message to send to the Iraqi people; and it would be the wrong message to send to our troops. Our troops understand the importance of completing the mission. They understand the importance of the work that they are doing. And it's important that we continue to stand with the Iraqi people who have stood up and said, we're going to defy the terrorists by showing that we want democracy and freedom. It's important to stand with our troops who are serving and sacrificing for an important cause. And it's important to make clear to the terrorists that they are going to be defeated. This is going to be a major blow to their ambitions. This is going to

Q In completing the mission, would the President give any further definition as to what that would look like in a measurable way that people could anticipate what the progress would be? Absent a timetable, is there some other way that he would further define that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, I mean, you've had updates from Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice-Chairman, soon to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier this week talking about the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces. That's one of the issues he'll be talking about with Prime Minister Jaafari. That is critical to our strategy, is training and equipping those Iraqi security forces. And we have some, I think, some 160,000 that are now trained and equipped. They're at various levels of training, and I think that the Department of Defense has spoken about that.

But it's also -- it's important to point out that there are still challenges ahead, there are still dangers ahead, because the terrorists recognize how high these stakes are. You have a determined enemy that is willing to strap suicide bombs onto themselves and cause mass damage and kill innocent civilians. That's the kind of enemy that we're facing. These are terrorists. These are nothing but terrorists. And they recognize the stakes that are involved in Iraq. That's why it's so critical that we succeed.

White House Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, June 16, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050616-5.html


Q Larry, does the Pentagon welcome a budding move from members of both parties in Congress to set a deadline for removing U.S. troops from Iraq as early as this year?

MR. DIRITA: I think we've discussed this in some detail. And I'll let General Conway give a military perspective on these kinds of artificial deadlines.

But it has been, I think, consistently the view that since the situation in Iraq is developing along based on events in Iraq, it's difficult to establish a timeline for when U.S. forces would no longer be needed in Iraq. And we've talked about the timeline that includes the political transition, the development of Iraqi security forces, and those are the principal elements that our presence is geared to. So setting an artificial deadline, I think those who would wish to pick a deadline would find themselves when that deadline arrived either realizing that that was not a reasonable deadline or they got lucky and we may already be out by then.

So just to pick a deadline or demand that a deadline be established, I think -- in addition to, as the president and others have talked about, encouraging insurgents to just wait us out, is not -- I'm not sure anybody has sufficient knowledge to be able to pick the right deadline. We currently have U.S. forces in Bosnia, with some allies, on a mission that had a deadline that expired nine years ago. So, we're -- it's just deadlines don't work.

I don't know if, General, you want to comment on it.

GEN. CONWAY: I think it's fair to speak on behalf of the commanders and say that they would probably not welcome an artificially imposed deadline. They have their plan; it's a plan for victory. And forces will be withdrawn when victory is accomplished between U.S. and Iraqi forces.

If you look at it from the insurgents' perspective, they know our history, just like we study them. And they see where we have withdrawn previously -- in Vietnam, in Beirut, in Somalia. And nothing would make them happier, I suppose, than to think that there is a deadline out there, there's a time and distance factor associated with it, and then, as Larry said, they simply are able to wait us out.

...

Q Can I get back to the issue of a deadline? And General, you paint the picture of an enemy that could wait us out -- lessons of Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia. What is the current definition of victory among the commanders over there? You just paint this picture of the -- they can absorb whatever punishment we take (sic). If we have a deadline, they can wait us out. What should the American public expect now? What's the latest definition, from the eyes of the commanders that you touch base with, of victory over there, where we can leave at some point?

MR. DIRITA: Let me start on that, and he can give you the military perspective, because it isn't just a military solution.

Q Right

MR. DIRITA: It's -- you know, we've from the beginning laid out -- the president has laid out some objectives with respect to Iraq and its transition. He's talked about the transfer of sovereignty, which happened. It happened almost one year ago -- and since then, a great deal of political development, which was another objective. In other words, transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi government and then let that Iraqi government start developing, which it's doing. It has had several major milestones of electoral actions. It'll have more going forward, and they're scheduled. And there's a constitution -- a law that allows for that.

Greater involvement by the international community -- that's happening. NATO has a training mission in Iraq. The coalition remains more or less about where it is, with 30-plus or -minus countries involved.

Continued effort in the reconstruction of Iraq -- and that's happening. We're -- we've probably expended or at least obligated to expend, I would say, something south of $10 billion and heading further.

And then the development of the Iraqi security forces.

So there's no military definition of success. The definition of success is those things: the Iraqi government taking responsibility for its own decisions, which it's increasingly doing; reconstruction continuing, which is going on. Sovereignty has already occurred. So those things will happen.

And then, as a component of that, military commanders will assess how much can Iraqi security forces take responsibility for, and that's happening. And I think that's an area where General Conway may have his thoughts.

GEN. CONWAY: You know, the actual mission, I suppose, is classified, but I can paraphrase it to say that a safe and secure Iraq that we are able to turn back over to the Iraqis.

The commander has multiple lines of operations, not just security, but they're economic, they're are laws, they're governmental. All those things are working. They're being continually reevaluated, not just by U.S. but by U.S. and our Iraqi partners. And when the Iraqis feel like -- that they're able to take the reins completely, then, I think, we'll be looking at the V-word.

Q It's all very amorphous, though. (Off mike) --

MR. DIRITA: It's not amorphous. It was amorphous when people asked the question on May 1st of 2003, it was amorphous when they asked it on August 1st. And what's -- this -- the questions haven't changed, but the progress has been notable. And there's nothing amorphous about the election of an Iraqi government, the election of a National Assembly, the passage of a transitional law, the development of 165,000 security forces. That's real. And --

Q (Off mike.)

MR. DIRITA: And that is -- but keep in mind -- look at it from the terrorists' perspective. They are doing all these attacks, and yet transitional administrative law, the transition of sovereignty, 165,000 Iraqi security forces. So if you're looking at it from the terrorists' perspective and saying, What do we have to do? These people aren't stopping, they're moving forward and they're going to take control of this country and they're going to have their own security forces.

So I just turn the question back around. If you asked this question on May 1st, 2003, what's the progress, and we said, Well, at a certain point in time we want to have the Iraqis have their own sovereignty, we want to have the 165,000 security forces, it would have been fair at that point to say, Well, how the heck do you get there? But now we're there. And so --

Q But the -- but the one thing that you're leaving out --

MR. DIRITA: Hold on. We'll get back to you.

What do you got?

Q Well, but you said "safe and secure" -- that's the definition of part of the mission. How do you define that, though? Is it with attacks go from 50 to 60 a day, to zero, or to less than 10? I mean, can you give us a better sense of what that means, "safe and secure"?

GEN. CONWAY: There are metrics associated with it. And again, I think we'll know it when we see it. When the Iraqi security forces feel like that the -- it has transitioned from a military solution to a police solution and the local police can resolve their problems at the local level, then I think the Iraqi security forces will feel like that the handoff is somewhat complete.

DoD News Briefing, June 16, 2005

Presenter: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Director of Operations, J-3 Lieutenant General James T. Conway

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050616-3061.html

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


"The important thing it seems to me is for them to recognize that this insurgency is going to be defeated not by the coalition, it's going to be defeated by the Iraqi people and by the Iraqi security forces. It's going to happen as the Iraqi people begin go believe they've got a future in that country. All elements have a future in that country. The constitutional process will be important and then the elections to take place at the end of the year."

- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Interview with Sir David Frost, BBC News, June 13, 2005

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050615-secdef3043.html


"I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that ... this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations," Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said last week, in a comment that echoes what other senior officers say. "It's going to be settled in the political process."

"Military action won't end insurgency, growing number of U.S. officers believe", By Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder Newspapers, June 13, 2005

source:  http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/world/11879261.htm


"And it's important that we continue moving forward on our strategy to train and equip Iraqi security forces so that our troops can eventually return home with the honor that they deserve.

"...the President has talked about how timetables send the wrong message. A free Iraq is an important part of winning the war on terrorism and transforming a dangerous region of the world. The President believes it is vital that we complete our mission, and that means training Iraqi security forces. Then our troops can return home with the honor they have deserved. Our troops understand the importance of the mission and they understand the importance of completing that mission.

"...the Iraqi people. They have shown they're committed to democracy and freedom, and we're going to stand with them to complete the mission, which is to train the Iraqi forces to be able to provide for their security and to support the Iraqi people as they move forward putting the institutions in place for a sustainable democracy."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, Press Briefing, June 13, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050613-3.html


"And the United States and Britain will stand with the Iraqi people as they continue their journey toward freedom and democracy. We'll support Iraqis as they take the lead in providing their own security. Our strategy is clear: We're training Iraqi forces so they can take the fight to the enemy, so they can defend their country. And then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

George W. Bush, June 7, 2005 Press Conference

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050607-2.html


Opinion / Editorial from The Boston Globe: Withdraw from Iraq

By George McGovern and Jim McGovern, June 6, 2005

excerpt: "There are no easy answers in Iraq. But we are convinced that the United States should now set a dramatically different course -- one that anticipates US military withdrawal sooner rather than later. We should begin the discussions now as to how we can bring our troops home."

source:  http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/06/06/withdraw_from_iraq?mode=PF

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.


Q Mr. Secretary, in an interview with the Associated Press, Iraq's foreign minister expressed concern that the U.S. may pull out before Iraqi forces are ready. I imagine you probably haven't read that interview yet. But what sort of assurances can you give to the Iraqi people, to the American people of what the bar is for when -- how do you know how ready the Iraqi forces will be? What are you looking for when you come up with these sorts of assessments?

SEC. RUMSFELD: It's interesting. One day, someone says that the -- they might stay longer than they're needed; and the other is they might leave before -- while they're still needed. And I suppose it's an imperfect world. The president has answered that question, repeatedly. He said we have a -- committed a great deal to this effort; 25 million people have been liberated, a transitional government is in place. Our desire is to assist the Iraqi people in fashioning Iraqi security forces that can assume responsibility for their security, and pass over responsibility for their security as rapidly as they're capable of assuming it.

That process is well under way. We're now over 165,000 Iraqi security forces. There are a number that are operating independently. There are a number that are operating semi-independently but need logistic or lift or other types of quick reaction force assistance.

And each day it gets better. When you ask, "How can you can you know," the important thing to realize is, it's their country. It's the Iraqi people's country, and they're going to have to provide for their own security.

Q But can you say that the U.S. will not pull out forces before the Iraqis --

SEC. RUMSFELD: The president said we'd stay as long as we're needed, and that is as long as they're not capable of handling their own security needs. The progress is significant that's been made, and they are doing an increasingly good job. And there have been some metrics developed that look at how one ought to determine their capabilities and their capacities. And part of it involves the strength of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior, in terms of its competence; the chains of command, how effective they are; their ability to be equipped and have the kind of mobility that they're going to need to function. And we have typical DOD metrics, where we look at each unit and try to assess that and then try to accelerate as rapidly as possible what it will take to get them to that point. And the number is going to be going up into the 200,000 range of total people. And again, quantity isn't just the whole thing; it's quality, as you suggest.

But good progress is being made, and the United States has indicated and the coalition has indicated they intend to stay and complete the job in proper order.

- Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, DoD News Briefing, June 1, 2005

source:  http://www.dod.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050601-secdef2981.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


Acting U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, speaking on behalf of the multinational force, told the council it won't remain in Iraq any longer than necessary. But if Iraqi authorities want the force to stay, it shouldn't leave "until the Iraqis can meet the serious security challenges they face," she said.

Even though Zebari repeated numerous times in his speech to the council that Iraq still can't survive on its own and needs help, the foreign minister said Iraq isn't certain Washington will stay engaged.

"I am concerned -- I am concerned," Zebari said in an interview at the United Nations late Tuesday. "I'm a realist, OK, and we've seen that before. We need to complete this mission with their help. We are getting very close. The riding is getting tougher."

But he said, "we are confident that we will make it."

The multinational force has about 138,000 U.S. troops and over 22,000 soldiers from 27 other countries. Patterson said it has trained and equipped 165,000 Iraqi soldiers and police, but more needs to be done so Iraqi forces can take control of the country's security and gain the confidence of the Iraqi people.

"A specific timeline for the withdrawal of multinational forces cannot be set," Patterson said, and "any decision regarding force size will be driven by events on the ground."

Zebari said the speed and training of Iraqi forces will also be on his agenda in Washington.

"It's not the question of numbers, of charts," he explained, referring to the U.S. military's presentations on their efforts to train Iraqis. "It's really the quality of these forces. Is there leadership? Is there performance? Is there delegation of authority?"

"Definitely, the new army, the new police, need better equipment -- at least better weaponry than the insurgents or the terrorists, and we think they could provide that," Zebari said of the Americans.

AP: Iraq Concerned U.S. May Leave Too Soon, June 1, 2005

source:  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wire/ats-ap_top14jun01,0,1623790.story

Copyright 2005 Associated Press


"So I'm pleased with the progress. I am pleased that in less than a year's time, there's a democratically elected government in Iraq; there are thousands of Iraqi soldiers trained and better equipped to fight for their own country; that our strategy is very clear in that we will work to get them ready to fight, and when they're ready, we'll come home. And I hope that's sooner, rather than later. But, nevertheless, it's very important that we complete this mission, because a free Iraq is in our nation's long-term interests. A democracy in the heart of the Middle East is an essential part of securing our country and promoting peace for the long run. And it is very important for our country to understand that. A free Iraq will set such a powerful example in a neighborhood that is desperate for freedom. And, therefore, we will complete the mission and support this elected government."

- George W. Bush, Press Conference, May 31, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050531.html


MS. COURIC: I know that on Sunday some 40,000 Iraqi troops began a new effort called Operation Lightning to deal with the insurgency. Recently, General Myers, I know you said insurgencies can last anywhere from three to four to even nine years.

Given the fact that there were 21 suicide bombings in May, compared to 25 for all of 2004, is the insurgency gaining steam or losing steam at this point in time?

GEN. MYERS: Let me try to put it in perspective. The insurgents originally thought, a year and a half, two years ago, they could go after the coalition and they could intimidate the coalition into leaving Iraq. Obviously we haven’t left.

Then they went after Iraqi security forces, particularly at recruiting stations. And yet Iraqi police, Iraqi army recruits, are signing up in record numbers. And, of course, during the election period, in the run-up to the elections in January, they tried to go after Iraqi civilians very hard. And, of course, Iraqis went to the polls, very proud of that, and 85 percent of Iraqis today say they’re going to vote in the constitutional referendum.

So they are not going to be successful. They can’t be successful. These are the people that are cutting off people’s heads. They put it on TV. They shoot a Japanese man. They put that on their web site. These folks are savages, mass murderers. There’s no reason the international community should ever think about anything but winning.

MS. COURIC: But General Myers, having said that, when you hear nine years, a prediction of possibly nine years, it’s pretty chilling.

GEN. MYERS: That was never a prediction. It was talking about insurgencies in general. And some take as little as two years; some take as long as nine. The point is, I think, with the political progress we’re seeing in Iraq, that’s going to be the key. And as the current government reaches out to Sunnis, which they’re doing, trying to make them more a part of a constitutional process, that progress in the political front is going to be key to progress against the insurgency. And it’s happening.

MS. COURIC: Meanwhile, earlier this year, General Myers, some of your top military leaders suggested the possibility of reducing the number of troops from Iraq by the first half of 2006. Do you agree with that, and do you still see that as a possibility?

GEN. MYERS: Katie, that’s something we look at all the time. Every week we go over the analysis there. General George Casey, who’s doing a great job of leading our troops in Baghdad and in Iraq, and General Abizaid, who’s responsible for the area over there, are reviewing that constantly.

The key is getting Iraqi security forces out front. And they are out front. You know, the offensive that’s going on in Baghdad, in good coordination between the ministry of interior, the ministry of defense, the fact that we have 35 operations going on right now, five of which are being conducted by Iraqi security forces without any help from the coalition, 30 of which are in combination with the coalition, this is in contrast to just a few months ago, where the Iraqi security forces weren’t so much in the front. But that’s occurring as we would have hoped it would have occurred. And we’re very optimistic that we’ll be able to look at our force structure in the future.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers on NBC Today, May 30, 2005

source: http://www.dod.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050530-2961.html


KING: When do we leave [Iraq]?

D. CHENEY: We'll leave as soon as the task is over with. We haven't set a deadline or a date. It depends upon conditions. We have to achieve our objectives, complete the mission. And the two main requirements are, the Iraqis in a position to be able to govern themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that, and the other is able to defend themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that. They just announced that in the last day or two here, there've been stories about a major movement of some 40,000 Iraqi troops into Baghdad to focus specifically on the problem there.

KING: You expect it in your administration?

D. CHENEY: I do.

KING: To be removed. It's not going to be -- it's not going to be a 10-year event?

D. CHENEY: No. I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. We've had reporting in recent days, Larry, about Zarqawi, who's sort of the lead terrorist, outside terrorist, al Qaeda, head of al Qaeda for Iraq, may well have been seriously injured. We don't know. We can't confirm that. We've had reporting to that effect.

So I think we're making major progress. And, unfortunately, as I say, it does involve sending young Americans in harm's way. But America will be safer in the long run when Iraq and Afghanistan as well are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States.

- U.S. Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney on Larry King Live, May 30, 2005

source:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0505/30/lkl.01.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


WALLACE: There has been, I don't have to tell you, a serious spike in the violence generated by the insurgency against both American soldiers and Iraqi citizens in recent weeks. The New York Times quoted U.S. commanders recently as saying that they believe the American military involvement could last many years in Iraq. Do you believe that?

MYERS: Here's what I think people need to know. The insurgents, be they the Zarqawi folks, the Al Qaeda, or the former regime elements, the Sunni extremists, they first attack the coalition and, hoping to drive the coalition out of Iraq. They haven't done that (inaudible). Then they switched to the Iraqi security forces and they tried keep people from signing up and being part of the police and the army. That hasn't worked. Iraqi civilians are signing up for the army and the police in record numbers.

Then they went after Iraqi civilians. That didn't work. They voted, and the recent poll here in May says that 85 percent of them are going to vote for the new constitution. And now they're debating, OK, we've tried these various centers of gravity, nothing is working. And I think that means that our strategy is working.

- General Richard Myers on 'Fox News Sunday', May 29, 2005

source:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,157904,00.html

Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, LLC


"The people of Iraq and Afghanistan are determined to secure their freedom, and we will help them. We're training Iraqi and Afghan forces so they can take the fight to the enemy and defend their own countries, and then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, May 28, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050528.html


MS. DUFFY: Here is a very pointed question. Can you outline, in detail, the timeline for our departure from Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: I can tell you that -- and it relates to one part of the other question -- the President talks not about an exit strategy, but about a success strategy. We have sacrificed greatly in Iraq. The men and women of the United States of America and our coalition partners have sacrificed. We have sacrificed treasure and young life in Iraq. And we have done it because a different kind of Middle East is going to make it possible to have peace and stability and security for generations.

It would not be a good thing to leave before this job is finished, but the Iraqis themselves want more than anything to be able to secure themselves. We are actively engaged with them in building their security forces. Their security forces are stepping up to the plate. They really did the security themselves for the elections. General Casey told me that he is not -- he did not have to have one coalition intervention during the elections. They secured those elections on their own. They are getting better. It's very tough, but they're getting better. And when they are able to secure themselves, then it will be possible for the international forces to leave. I am hopeful that they are going to take more and more of the security mission and they are taking more and more of the security mission.

- Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Remarks At the Commonwealth Club, Davies Symphony Hall,San Francisco, CA, May 27, 2005

source: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/46917.htm


"Difficult and dangerous work remains. Suicide bombers in Iraq are targeting innocent men, women and children, hoping to intimidate Iraq's new leaders, and shake the will of the Iraqi people. They will fail. Iraqis are determined, and our strategy is clear: We will train Iraqi forces so they can take the fight to the enemy and defend their own country, and then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

- George W. Bush, Naval Academy Commencement, May 27, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050527.html


"Our strategy is clear: We will fight the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. While some difficult days still lie ahead, these recent victories are making America safer and the world more secure."

...

"The war on terror continues, and we are making solid progress, but we must not become complacent. We will continue to pursue terrorists abroad. We will continue to support democratic change throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the broader Middle East. And we will do whatever it takes to support our men and women in uniform and give them the tools they need to prevail."

George W. Bush, Radio Address, May 21, 2005

source http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050521.html


BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 19 - American military commanders in Baghdad and Washington gave a sobering new assessment on Wednesday of the war in Iraq, adding to the mood of anxiety that prompted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to come to Baghdad last weekend to consult with the new government.

In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years."

- May 19, 2005 New York Times article titled 'Generals Offer a Sober Outlook on Iraqi War'

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/19/international/middleeast/19cnd-iraq.html

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


"So we should understand that there's going to be a lot of threats to this political activity for quite a while. I'd say that like any insurgency, the insurgency will continue for quite a while."

General John P. Abizaid, Commander, US CENTCOM, with reporters, May 18, 2005

source:  http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/transcripts/0518%20abizaid%20roundtable%20final.doc


"Our promise to the Iraqi leadership is that the multinational forces are here to help Iraq defend itself until it can defend itself," Rice said at a joint news conference with Iraq's interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. "I assure you, we want it to be as soon as possible."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, May 15, 2005

source: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/15/iraq.main/index.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


ARRAF: Politically, how much time do you think the U.S. has before Iraqi leaders, a sovereign country again, says, perhaps, "Thank you very much, but it's time for U.S. troops to leave"?

RICE: I've found that Iraqi leaders have a similar view of this question as we do, which is that they understand that this young democracy is not yet capable of defending itself.

It's not yet capable of defending itself from internal foes and from the foreign terrorists who are coming across borders to try and prevent the establishment of a democratic Iraq.

So they have multinational forces here. Yes, the bulk of them are American, but there's a coalition here. And the purpose of that coalition is to help them defend themselves, and most importantly to train and equip Iraqis so that they can do the job themselves.

There's no doubt that they're making progress. If you look at the early attempts with the forces, they had some very unsatisfactory performances. But then if you look at the way that they protected election sites, and did that practically without the help of the coalition, the fact that we're now engaged very often in joint operations, and that they're engaged in operations on their own, they've made a lot of progress.

And I find that they have a results-based approach to this question, which is that everyone wants to be able to do the job themselves. But they understand that the multinational force is here, because they're not yet quite capable of doing it.

- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced trip to Iraq. Rice, shared her thoughts about her visit with CNN's Senior Baghdad Correspondent Jane Arraf. May 15, 2005

source http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/15/rice.access/index.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


"We're involved in an insurgency, a very violent insurgency. If there was a magic bullet, then General Casey and General Abizaid or I, or somebody on the staff more likely, would have found it. This requires patience. This is not something that we're going to go out and knee-jerk to every time we -- you know, it's -- we've always -- we've stood up here and said this is a thinking and adapting adversary. They are thinking and adapting. The vehicle- borne improvised explosive device is a very tough device to thwart.

"And so, sure, we work on it every day. But I wouldn't look for results tomorrow. This is a -- this -- one thing we know about insurgencies is that they last from, you know, three, four years to nine years. These are tough fights. And in the end, it's going to have to be the Iraqis that win this. So it's not U.S. forces."

- Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 12, 2005 Press Conference

source:  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050512-secdef2761.html

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has said in an interview that US troops will remain in his country for two more years, until Iraq's own army and security forces are strong enough to take over the role of securing the nation. The new Iraqi president also said he was confident that Iraqi Sunni clerics would be able to convince the country's Sunni minority to participate in the new government and renounce their support for the rebellion.

source

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says foreign troops will remain in place until the national army is restructured and rehabilitated. He said no timetable for foreign troops withdrawal would be considered "before a national, non-sectarian, army is rebuilt and in which all factions of the Iraqi people are represented."

source

May 12, 2005


The legacy of Saddam Hussein could take years to overcome, John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador and the new national intelligence director, said Thursday in urging patience in looking for democracy to emerge in Iraq.

"Our job is to stand by them and to try to make sure the international community does as well," said Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and later to Iraq.

But he warmed to the subject of Iraq, where he was ambassador from June 2004 until March of this year.

"Political, economic and social change, especially in countries emerging from tyranny, take months, even years," Negroponte said in a dinner speech.

"We must be patient to be sure democratic principles take hold," he said. "The legacy of Saddam Hussein will be hard to erase."

He made no direct mention of the postwar violence and the loss of almost 1,600 members of the U.S. military since the beginning of the war in March 2003.

Against the backdrop of U.S. intelligence lapses, Negroponte last month became the first American national intelligence director, a job created to coordinate U.S. spy agencies, including the CIA, which supported President Bush's assertions that Saddam had hidden arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were never found.

"Intel Chief Urges Patience With Iraq," By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer, Thursday, May 5, 2005

©2005 Associated Press

source http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2005/05/05/national/w202552D40.DTL


Q Mr. President, in your question -- your answer before about Iraq, you set no benchmarks for us to understand when it is the troops may be able to --

THE PRESIDENT: In Iraq?

Q In Iraq, yes -- about when troops may be able to come back.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q Based on what you've learned now in two years of fighting the insurgency and trying to train the Iraqi security forces, can you say that within the next year you think you could have very substantial American withdrawal of troops?

THE PRESIDENT: David, I know there's a temptation to try to get me to lay out a timetable, and as you know, during the campaign and -- I'll reiterate it -- I don't think it's wise for me to set out a timetable. All that will do is cause an enemy to adjust. So my answer is, as soon as possible. And "as soon as possible" depends upon the Iraqis being able to fight and do the job.

I had a good video conference recently with General Casey and General Petreaus -- General Casey is in charge of the theater; General Petreaus, as you know, is in charge of training -- and they we're upbeat about what they're seeing with the Iraqi troops. One of the questions I like to ask is, are they able to recruit. In other words, you hear -- you see these killers will target recruiting stations, and I've always wondered whether or not that has had an effect on the ability for the Iraqis to draw their fellow citizens into the armed forces. Recruitment is high. It's amazing, isn't it, that people want to serve, they want their country to be free?

The other question that -- one of the other issues that is important is the equipping issue, and the equipment is now moving quite well. In other words, troops are becoming equipped.

Thirdly, a fundamental problem has been whether or not there's an established chain of command, whether or not a civilian government can say to the military, here's what you need to do -- and whether the command goes from top to bottom and the plans get executed. And General Petreaus was telling me he's pleased with the progress being made with setting up a command structure, but there's still more work to be done.

One of the real dangers, David, is that as politics takes hold in Iraq, whether or not the civilian government will keep intact the military structure that we're now helping them develop. And my message to the Prime Minister and our message throughout government to the Iraqis is, keep stability; don't disrupt the training that has gone on -- don't politicize your military -- in other words, have them there to help secure the people.

So we're making good progress. We've reduced our troops from 160,000 more or less to 139,000. As you know, I announced to the country that we would step up our deployments -- step up deployments and retain some troops for the elections. And then I said we'd get them out, and we've done that. In other words, the withdrawals that I said would happen, have happened.

Press Conference with George W. Bush, April 28, 2005

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050428-9.html


"The United States and the coalition forces, in my personal view, will not be the thing that will defeat the insurgency. So therefore, winning or losing is not the issue for "we," in my view, in the traditional conventional context of using the word winning and losing and of war.

"The people that are going to defeat that insurgency are going to be the Iraqis. And the Iraqis will do it not through military means solely, but by progress on the political side, and giving the Iraqi people a sense that they have a stake in that country; that they're going to be protected by a piece of paper called a constitution, for the first time in their lives, and that that paper will protect them and, therefore, they are willing to stay together as a single country and have reasonable confidence that their rights and their circumstance will not abused by any of the other elements in the country.

"The insurgency will be defeated by virtue of the fact that the economic progress will take place and people will begin to see very clearly that the insurgency is harming the lives of Iraqi people by retarding the economic progress; by preventing sewers from getting fixed, and water supplies from being fixed; making it more difficult for kids to go to school.

"The insurgency -- the Iraqis will prevail in the insurgency also because over time, it will become clearer and clearer that the insurgents have no plan; they have nothing other than killing people. They have no philosophy other than power and turning that country back to the Dark Ages.

"Fourth, the Iraqis will prevail in the insurgency because the insurgents are a mixture of unlikes. The Ba'athists don't have the same views that the Zarqawi types have, and the criminals don't have the same view that either of those do. And at some point, there will be a division.

"They have been trying to start a civil war and they've failed. They've tried to incite one ethnic group against another ethnic group, and indeed what we've seen is not hostility among ethnic groups or religious factions in that country; we've seen just the opposite. We've seen them reaching out to the others, trying to be inclusive. We've seen it in the political process. We've seen religious leadership in that country argue do not retaliate, that is not in the interest of us or our country. We've seen exactly the opposite of what the worst fears would have suggested.

"So there are good things happening in that country."

- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Press Briefing, April 26, 2005.

source: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050426-secdef2601.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


"As Iraqis assume increasing responsibility for the stability of their country, Iraqi security forces are becoming more self-reliant and taking on greater responsibilities. Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and for the first time, the Iraqi army, police, and security forces outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. We will help them achieve this objective, and then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, April 23, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050423.html


"Today -- I don't know if you realize this or not -- over 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained or equipped; for the first time, the Iraqi army, police and security forces now outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq. We're working on establishing chains of command. We're working to make sure civilian government understands that there needs to be stability in the security forces. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. That's easy to understand that thought and desire. And that's what we want. That's the strategy of the United States. And so we'll help them achieve this objective so they can secure their own nation. And when they're ready and equipped, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

- George W. Bush, April 21, 2005, speaking to a gathering of insurance industry workers in Washington, D.C.

listen here to mp3 clip of the above quote (442 MB MP3 FORMAT)


U.S. Has No Exit Strategy for Iraq, Rumsfeld Says (Update4)

April 12 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. has no exit strategy or precise timetable for withdrawing its forces from Iraq and a pull-out depends on the readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. Asked at a meeting with U.S. soldiers to outline the U.S.'s exit strategy, Rumsfeld said, "we don't have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy." He defined victory as the moment when Iraq is on the path to becoming a democratic state free of terrorism, according to a pooled broadcast report.

source:  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aUOw7s3h8AhQ

April 12, 2005. ©2005 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved.

'We don't really have an exit strategy. We have a victory strategy. We are here for a mission to set the country on the path of democracy, freedom and representative government,' Rumsfeld told reporters. 'We have to see the institutional capacity developed so that they can take over the security responsibility, and as that takes place the responsibility of the coalition forces will decline and they will be able to move away and leave this country with the full responsibility for its own country.'

source: http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/050412/323/fg5e9.html

April 12, 2005. Copyright © 2005 AFX AFX.


"As Iraq's new government assumes increasing responsibility for the stability of their country, security operations are entering a new phase. Iraq security forces are becoming more self-reliant and taking on greater responsibilities. And that means that America and its coalition partners are increasingly playing more of a supporting role. Today, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped, and for the first time, the Iraqi army, police and security forces now outnumber U.S. forces in Iraq.

"Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended and led by their own countrymen. We will help them achieve this objective so Iraqis can secure their own nation. And then our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

- George W. Bush, President Discusses War on Terror, Fort Hood, Texas, April 12, 2005.

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050412.html


Q Can you tell us a little bit about your dinner with Prime Minister Berlusconi? Did you talk, particularly, on Iraq? Did the subject come up, in terms of the intelligence officer who was killed by Americans?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it did come up and I expressed my regret once again, and assured him that the investigation would be conducted in an aboveboard, transparent way.

Q Did he say it had been a problem for him in keeping the support that there is in Italy for having troops in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: No, he reaffirmed his commitment to -- which he has given in the past -- that we've got to make sure we complete the mission, that we help Iraqis to fight off the few. He knows what I know: that the sooner that gets done, the sooner our troops will be able to come home.

But he's also aware that what we don't want to do is leave prematurely, so that we don't complete our job. And the new government is just about to be stood up; we look forward to working with the new government on a lot of things and a lot of fronts. But on the security front, it's to make sure we're in sync with our training schedules; make sure that the chain of command within the military and between the civilian government and the military are strong and capable and will endure.

We've been waiting for this new government so that we can then strategize. And as soon as the government is sworn in, the appropriate folks, we can get Zal confirmed quickly, get him out there -- of course, we have a good, strong deputy chief of mission there now, upon swearing in -- of course, I will be in contact with the Prime Minister, I've already spoke to the President. And General Casey, as well as the charg , I mean, the deputy chief of mission will be in touch with, Condi will be touch with her counterpart, Secretary Rumsfeld will be in touch with his counterpart as we strategize as to how to move forward.

As we strategize on tactics, on how to implement the strategy -- which is clear -- which is, we want to train you and make you as efficient as possible, as quickly as possible, so that all of us can begin to, you know, as I say, bring our troops home with the honor they've earned.

Q Italy is going to pull out 3,000 troops, I think, by the fall. Will you be able to absorb that?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know why you say that. I'm not sure why you said what you just said.

Q I thought that was the number of troops Italy had in Iraq, and I --

THE PRESIDENT: They've got 3,300 now, and you said they're going to pull 3,000 out by the fall?

Q Well, I guess -- I don't --

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. What I did hear was is that the Prime Minister wants to work to make sure we complete the mission. But I'm not sure where that came from.

Q Do you think he'll leave troops in if, in fact, enough haven't been trained?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we'll work to complete the training mission of the Iraqis. And it's important we do it, and get it right. The amazing thing is, is that if you really think about what's happened in the 10-month period, in spite of some very difficult days and in spite of some tragedy, loss of life, this country is -- there is a democracy emerging in this country. And it was really kicked off by the huge vote of over 8 million people.

President Speaks to Press Pool Aboard Air Force One, April 8, 2005

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050408.html


BLITZER: As you know, yesterday, the supporters of Muqtada Al- Sadr, the Shiite radical, emerged on Baghdad, demanding an immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq. What do you think of a timetable for a U.S. military withdrawal in your mind?

TALABANI: Well, I'm not supporting such a kind of idea. And the meeting yesterday was not only for the American removal of forces, but also it was against terrorism and against remnants of Saddam Hussein's people.

I think we are in great need to have American and other allied forces in Iraq until we will be able to rebuild our military forces, rebuild our security forces and until we will be assured that there will be no danger from terrorism and from full intervention in our internal affairs.

BLITZER: Do you have an estimate how long that might take?

TALABANI: Well, I think we are trying to build as soon as possible our military forces. I think within two years we can do it. And in the same time, we will remain in full consultation, coordination, cooperation with our American friends, who came to liberate our country.

BLITZER: So your belief is that within the next two years, virtually all, if not all, U.S. forces will be out of Iraq?

TALABANI: Well, asking United States forces to leave Iraq is not depending on this. It depends on many factors. One is to secure the country from terrorism and from the danger of interference in the internal affairs of Iraq. And also it depends on the common desire of Iraqi people and American people. This will be discussed in a very friendly framework and in very friendly climate between Iraqi people and American people.

CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER - Interview With Iraq President Jalal Talabani. April 10, 2005

source:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0504/10/le.01.html


Shi'ite protestors demonstrate against the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq in Najaf on April 9, 2005. Tens of thousands of followers of a rebel Shi'ite cleric marched in Baghdad to denounce the U.S. presence in Iraq and demand a speedy trial of Saddam Hussein, on the second anniversary of his overthrow. Photo by Stringer/Iraq/Reuters


"Our strategy in Iraq is clear, and it's a common strategy that our coalition has agreed to, and that is to train Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi security forces, so that they can do the hard work of securing their country. And that's what's happening."

- George W. Bush, April 4, 2005, President Welcomes President Yushchenko to the White House

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050404.html


Q No, no, no. I'm saying that you seem to me optimistic about what's happening in Iraq. The generals have been speaking about -- optimistically about Iraq and speculating that if things continue along the lines that they're going now, you may be able to start bringing troops home. How do you feel about the momentum? Do you have momentum right now in Iraq? Do you feel like you're on a trend line where you're going to be able to bring significant numbers of troops home toward the end of the year?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I'll start, and I'll let Pete correct me. How to characterize this? I don't -- I worry about being excessively optimistic, myself. I kind of like to deliver rather than promise. Fact number one. Fact number two. Everything I've read about the, quote, "generals," our generals, who you commented on, tended to be condition-based. They put in a comment that said "If this, if this, if that, then we ought to be able to do X, Y or Z." And I think that that's basically what Prime Minister Allawi has said, that's what the president has said. We want to be there while we're needed, we don't want to be there longer than we're needed, and the conditions on the ground will determine the pace.

GEN. PACE: Sir, I think --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Speaking of pace.

GEN. PACE: I think General Abizaid used the term "cautiously optimistic" as -- and the words that General Casey used were very similar. I think that's exactly right. There's a lot of things right now that make you hopeful about the way ahead in Iraq. But hope is not a plan. So we, as good military folks, do all the planning we should be doing to have the current levels, to have increased levels, and to have decreased levels, and to be able to execute any of those as is appropriate. But cautious optimism is a good phrase for right now.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes. We'll make this the last question.

Q Focusing -- yeah. Focusing on Iraq, what are the options, do you think, to end -- to end the insurgency in Iraq? And do you support or do you favor any negotiation with the leaders of the insurgency in Iraq?

SEC. RUMSFELD: What are the options? It seems to me there are not a lot of options to end the insurgency. There are steps that one needs to take that will reduce the insurgency. Specifically, the -- in the last analysis it will be the Iraqi people that will defeat the insurgency, not the coalition. The coalition is going to be able to create an environment that's hospitable to the Iraqi people's success. And we can provide assistance of various kinds. We've provided some assistance from a political standpoint, because how the political scene evolves is going to either -- it should have the effect of reducing the insurgency. To the extent the Iraqi people feel that they own that country, they're a sovereign nation, they have a stake in it, a voice in it, then, in fact, that's a good thing, and it makes the insurgency less attractive to people. To the extent the economic reconstruction goes forward and people have jobs and the economy's growing, that, again, has the effect of reducing support for the insurgency and increasing support for the Iraqi government. So, too, to the extent that the Iraqi security forces are trained and equipped and well led and not jerked around with every change of government, but have a chain of command that works, all of that contributes to reducing the insurgency. That seems to me what -- the only option is to have those things move forward together in a way that persuades the Iraqi people that their stake in the future lies with the Iraqi government and not with the insurgents or not with a passive wait-and-see attitude.

- Defense Department Briefing

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; General Peter Pace, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Tuesday, March 29, 2005 1:17 p.m. EST

source:  http://www.pentagon.gov/transcripts/2005/tr20050329-secdef2381.html

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.


"This democracy will need defending. And Iraqi security forces are taking on greater responsibility in the fight against the insurgents and terrorists. Today, more than 145,000 Iraqis have been trained and are serving courageously across Iraq. In recent weeks, they've taken the lead in offensive operations in places like Baghdad and Samara and Mosul. We will continue to train Iraqis so they can take responsibility for the security of their country, and then our forces will come home with the honor they've earned."

- George W. Bush, March 29, 2005, Rose Garden Speech

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/20050329.html


BLITZER: Right now, what are you projecting? How many troops will you need for the balance of this year, 2005 calendar year, and 2006 next year?

CASEY: We don't necessarily project out that far. Right now, we expect to continue with the number of troops. We have about 17 brigades here through the rest of this year.

BLITZER: So you think you'll have about 138,000 for the rest of this year?

CASEY: Roughly.

BLITZER: And what about next year, what do you think?

CASEY: By this time next year -- you know, you base all of your planning on assumptions. Assuming that the political process continues to go positively, and the Sunni are included in the political process, and the Iraqi army continues to progress and develop as we think it will, we should be able to take some fairly substantial reductions in the size of our forces. The specific number is going to be based on the conditions of the Iraqi security forces and the security situation. So I can't give you a specific number or a specific time.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer interview with General George Casey, the head of the U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. March 27, 2005

source: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0503/27/le.01.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


BLITZER: The Iraqi military -- when, in your estimate, will they be ready to really be robust enough for the U.S. to start lowering the level of its military involvement in Iraq?

ABIZAID: Well, again, predictions are never a good thing for military leaders to make, other than to say I am confident that they have the leadership, the capacity and the desire to take the lead in the counter-insurgency fight. Right now, we're out in front; they're behind, forming. And in 2005, what General Casey will try to do is change that position so that the Iraqis are out in front and leading. They want to do that. But we've got to be smart about the way that we look at the Iraqi armed forces and interior ministry forces, specifically the police. They've got to have a strong chain of command. They've got to have a different attitude about serving the people, as opposed to serving themselves, which was the case during the previous regime. And they've got to have the confidence that they can stand up to the insurgents. And so, the institution-building that is required to make them effective is going to take some time. We've got to be patient. But I think in 2005, they'll make that move. And by the end of 2005, provided the political process continues to be successful, you'll see the Iraqis more and more in charge and, in some areas, completely in charge.

- CNN's Wolf Blitzer interview with General John Abizaid, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command. March 27, 2005

source: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0503/27/le.01.html

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


"Iraq's progress toward political freedom has opened a new phase of our work there. We are focusing our efforts on training the Iraqi security forces. As they become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly assume a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country, and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty. And then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."

- George W. Bush, March 19, 2005 Radio Address

source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/20050319.html


"So I think what you're going to find is that countries will be willing -- anxious to get out when Iraqis have got the capacity to defend themselves. And that's the position of the United States. Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself. And that's generally what I find to be the case, Terry, when I've talked to other allies on this issue.

"And we're making progress. I've talked to General Casey quite frequently. And he keeps us abreast of the progress being made. One of the things -- one of the issues in terms of Iraqi troops being able to defend their country is the ability to stand up chains of command. I think I've shared this with you before, and it's still an issue that they're working on. There's officer training schools, plus the ability for a command to go from a civilian government to a military chain of command, down to the lower ranks of troops. And there's positive signs that have taken place in the development of the Iraqi security forces, and there's still work to be done. Our allies understand that.

"But I say 'anxious to come home,' every -- nobody -- people want their troops home, but they don't want their troops home if it affects the mission. We've gone -- we've made a lot of progress. It's amazing how much progress has been made, thanks in large part to the courage of the Iraqi people. And when I talk to people, most understand we need to complete the mission. And completing the mission means making sure the Iraqis can defend themselves."

- George W. Bush, Press conference, March 16, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/20050316-3.html


"The last time I was here was about the 15th of December, and I mentioned that we'd recently completed our first major assessment of the campaign at that time, and we felt that we were broadly on track in our efforts to help the Iraqi people complete their transition to a constitutionally elected government by the end of this year, end of '05. I also told you that I believed this objective was both realistic and achievable, and I can tell you that, following that very successful election on the 30th of January, I'm even more convinced that that's the case, that our objectives in Iraq are both realistic and achievable.

"We will continue to build Iraqi divisions and brigades that are capable of independent counterinsurgency operations, so that the Iraqi armed forces themselves can take the leading role in fighting the insurgency, and the coalition forces can move to a supporting role. That will be our main effort here over the course of this year.

"Now, that said, there remains much work to be done to build a constitution accepted by all Iraqis, to prepare for the constitutional elections, and to continue to attack and defeat the terrorists and insurgents who intend to unhinge Iraq's march to democracy. We're in a good position following the elections, but we have an awful -- we have a lot of work ahead to get to our final objective in Iraq.

"So, to wrap up, we remain broadly on track in meeting our objectives. To be sure, the insurgency is still a force to be reckoned with, but it was not able to achieve its stated objectives on election day, nor was it able to hold its safe haven in Fallujah. We've lots more to do with both our embassy and Iraqi counterparts, but things in Iraq are heading in the right direction.

"There's not a timetable. What I said was that there are 90-plus battalions that are operating with coalition forces. Okay? And some of those battalions are good enough so that they can operate independently. But there's not many of them. And over the period of the next year we will work with them to build their brigade and division level command structures so that you can have truly independent Iraqi operations. But it's going to take some months for that to happen.

"But I mean, as you know, defeating insurgencies takes time. The average insurgency -- the average counterinsurgency in the 20th century was about nine years, so it takes time to snuff out the insurgency. And also, I think you know, most insurgencies are defeated by political means rather than necessarily by military means.

"In terms of level of attacks, I mean, we are dealing with an insurgency that has sufficient ammunition, weapons, money and people to maintain a level of attacks of between 50, 60 a day in the Sunni area. They've demonstrated that capability. And that's not -- as I said, that's not something that we're ultimately going to defeat militarily. The people that are supporting and doing these attacks are going to be drawn into -- hopefully, drawn into the political process, and that will take some of the air out of the insurgency.

"So it's a combination of the political, the military, the economic, and the communications that's ultimately going to defeat this."

- Gen. George Casey, USA, Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq. Tuesday, March 8, 2005 Press Conference

COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC.

source: http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050308-2241.html


JIM LEHRER: Speaking of way ahead, you've begun to think already in terms of when U.S. troops - when you could start drawing down the size of the U.S. force in Iraq?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: This is primarily a political question. We give our military advice about sizes and shapes and force structures necessary to get the military job done.

In the long-term it's clear that as Iraqi capacity builds up and also as Afghan capacity builds up in the other part of the theater that I'm responsible for, American forces will be able to come down in size; predicting when that might be or how that might be is difficult at this point.

Primarily, in Iraq, it's difficult to say because you don't know how the political process is going to go. I mean, we have to seat the nationalist assembly. A prime minister has got to be chosen; a presidency council; a constitution has to be written; a constitution has to be ratified, and then another national election will happen; and that will all happen between now and December. That's a very politically charged atmosphere. It will undoubtedly cause a certain amount of concern within the country; it could lead to sporadic violence here and there.

The insurgency in the Sunni areas is not completely defeated. The terrorists continue to exist. And so while we're optimistic about the road ahead, we should know that there's violence ahead. The progress of Iraqi security forces will certainly be shaped to a certain extent by the political process, so if the political process encourages people to stand up, be part of the future, to serve the armed forces of Iraq and the police services in a positive way, then I think it's possible we can think about bringing forces down.

But, on the other hand, we need to be patient about the political process and I think we don't want to - we don't want to make too many predictions. Nothing in the Middle East moves in a straight line. There's all sorts of twists and turns that are unpredictable, and you have to understand that military forces provide the shield. And when I say military forces, I mean both Iraqi and American provide the shield by which politics will take place.

Every now and then politics is liable to get out of control; it's liable to turn violent. It's not unusual for that to happen in this part of the world. But my view is one of cautious optimism; I think in 2005 we will see the Iraqis really wanting to move forward to take on more and more responsibility, to fight the insurgency as much as they can on their own, and our primary challenge will be that of building the institution of the military and the police services so that they can take on that task.

JIM LEHRER: Why is that going so slowly, building the military institution for the Iraqis?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: Well, Jim, I think that depends upon where you sit.

JIM LEHRER: Sure.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: Where I sit I think it's going remarkably well; when I look at what Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Casey have accomplished, both in terms of setting a security environment that was conducive to elections and at the same time building a more robust and capable Iraqi security service, I actually think that it's been a phenomenal success.

If I look to our own history and I look to the Revolutionary War and I see how long it took our forces to develop, how many bumps on the head we had to take before we were successful, I'm actually encouraged that the Iraqis are moving in a pretty good direction.

On the other hand, the worst thing we can do is build an institution, commit it to combat, put it in harm's way in such a manner that it breaks. We have to really solidify the chain of command, make sure that when the prime minister issues an order that it goes through a coherent chain of command that's responsible and loyal -- this is really more about loyalty and leadership than it is about numbers of troops trained and equipped.

JIM LEHRER: And you're optimistic about this?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: I'm very optimistic about it; I'm optimistic that at the end of the day the Iraqi armed forces will emerge as one of the best trained and equipped armed forces in the Middle East.

JIM LEHRER: When will that be?

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: One that will be loyal to the political leadership, one that will serve the people, as opposed to what the previous Iraqi services did, which was feed upon the people.

- PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, March 1, 2005

Copyright ©2005 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. All Rights Reserved

source:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/jan-june05/abizaid_3-1.html


In an interview, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted there is no US exit strategy for Iraq and refused to categorically rule out an attack on Iran.

Asked if the US has an exit strategy for Iraq in the light of continued insurgency, the Secretary of State insisted that the positive effects of removing Saddam are already felt across the region.

She said: "We don't talk about exit strategies. We think about success strategies. We think about what we went there to do – which was to remove one of the worst dictators in the region. The insurgency in Iraq has no political future because the Iraqi people have demonstrated by going to the polls in huge numbers that they believe their political future is in the process that will culminate in December 2005 with free and fair elections. The insurgents have no answer to that...It is a positive development that the Iraqis have taken to the politics this way and that they're moving their country towards a more democratic future. And that will have an effect on the rest of the region."

March 1, 2005

Content © ITV Network Limited. All Rights Reserved

source: http://www.itv.com/news/world_715788.html


BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Students, holding banners, demonstrate at the Mustansiriyeh University, the oldest in Baghdad 28 February 2005. The students were demonstrating against having Saturday as an official day off, wanting Thursday instead. Friday is the official day off (weekend) in Iraq, as it is in many mainly Muslim countries. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

Copyright: 2005 AFP

http://editorial.gettyimages.com/source/search/details_pop.aspx?iid=52254082&cdi=0


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - (Reuters) - The insurgency in Iraq is not likely to be put down in a year or even two since history shows such uprisings can last a decade or more, the United States' top military commander says. Air Force General Richard Myers says that in the past century, insurgencies around the world have lasted anywhere from seven to 12 years, making a quick fix to the problem in Iraq unlikely.

"This is not the kind of business that can be done in one year, two years probably," Gen Myers said, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

- "Top US general sees lasting Iraq insurgency", Reuters, Feb. 26, 2005

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

source:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200502/s1311637.htm


"There are still challenges ahead, let there be no doubt ... The next task is to prepare Iraq security forces to have confidence to defeat the insurgency.... Once they have that confidence, our forces can go home... One day you'll see very clearly the history you made."
- Donald Rumsfeld, speaking during a surprise visit to Iraq, Feb. 11, 2005

source:  http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/02/11/iraq.rumsfeld/

© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.


However, some leading Sunni groups have laid down tough conditions, including a demand for the United States to set a firm timetable for withdrawing its troops.

The Americans have refused to set a deadline, saying they would leave when an Iraqi force was capable of providing security and defeating the insurgents.

"Once they have that confidence, that capacity and capability, our forces, coalition forces, will be able to go home," Rumsfeld told U.S. troops in Mosul. "It is the Iraqis who will have to over time defeat the insurgency."

"Rumsfeld In Iraq Amid New Violence" (CBS/AP), Feb. 11, 2005

source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/02/12/iraq/main673658.shtml

©MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc.


"First of all, if you look, you'll see that the leading figures on the Shia ticket that appears to be winning, headed up by Hakim, who is a cleric, made it clear that they are opposed to setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. I think the Shia are very interested in getting the Sunnis involved in this process, but I would be surprised if they would agree to anything that was suggested that, for example, required the withdrawal timetable for U.S. forces. I think the responsible Iraqis, the ones we've been working with, understand, just as do we, that the ultimate test here is, when do we complete the mission? Once we've completed the mission, we've stood up an effective Iraqi government and they have security forces in place to be able to take care of their own, then we're out of there. We have no desire to stay a day longer than necessary. But the test for our departure has to come with respect to when we've completed the mission, not some artificial deadline we might decide on now as part of a political compromise. And I think we'll find that, in fact, that will be the view that will prevail in the new Iraqi government."

- Dick Cheney, Fox News Sunday Interview, Feb. 6, 2005

source:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,146546,00.html

Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, LLC


"The president and I and anyone would dearly love to be smart enough and wise enough to know precisely when our troops could leave. It would be such a relief for people to know that. It's not knowable. The important thing to do is to see that we do not create a dependency, that we encourage them to take over that responsibility. And our forces are doing that. We're helping to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. And the president believes, and I agree with him, that we don't want to be there any longer than we have to, but we want to be there as long as we're needed. And it seems to me that the answer as to when our troops can come out is dependent upon the conditions on the ground and whether or not the Iraqis are capable of managing the security situation there. We're working very hard to see that they can."

- Donald Rumsfeld, Meet the Press interview, Feb. 6, 2005

source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6923245/


"...millions of brave Iraqis defied the threats of terrorists, and cast votes to determine their nation's future. The whole world can now see that the assassins and car-bombers are doomed to fail, because they are fighting the desire of the Iraqi people to live in freedom. And when Iraq is democratic, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself, our nation will be safer, and our troops will return home with the honor they have earned. The work ahead is not easy. But we go forward with confidence, knowing that America's best days are yet to come."

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, Feb. 5, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/02/20050205.html


We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own freedom, and to write their own history. As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, "Ordinary Iraqis are anxious to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible." That is the natural desire of an independent nation, and it is also the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq. The new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work in that country.

At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground, and in consultation with the Iraqi government, we will increasingly focus our efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces -- forces with skilled officers and an effective command structure. As those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country -- and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty.

Recently an Iraqi interpreter said to a reporter, "Tell America not to abandon us." He and all Iraqis can be certain: While our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment remains firm and unchanging. We are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come.  We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned.

- George W. Bush, State of the Union speech, Feb. 2, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/02/20050202-11.html


"As democracy takes hold in Iraq, America's mission there will continue. Our military forces, diplomats and civilian personnel will help the newly-elected government of Iraq establish security and train Iraqi military police and other forces. Terrorist violence will not end with the election. Yet the terrorists will fail, because the Iraqi people reject their ideology of murder."

- George W. Bush, Radio Address, January 29, 2005

source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050129.html


"I do think that in Iraq, you were right. What we need is a success strategy, not be an exit strategy. And that's a very good way to talk about it. The success here is going to be that Iraqis are in charge of their own future and recognize that it is really up to them to make that future one that is inclusive of all of the divisions that have bedeviled Iraq, that we've given them the capability to defend themselves, principally from internal insurgency, but also to give them the ability that their neighbors will understand that Iraq is a stable place, that it is a unified Iraq. One of the obligations, by the way, that we undertook when we decided to change the regime in Iraq was that we'd be concerned about the territorial integrity of Iraq. And we have to keep that obligation. And finally, that they are beginning the process towards the stabilization of the their economy so that the economy could support those first two: a political process and a military insecurity process. I can't give a time line, but I think we will know when the Iraqis are able to have in place institutions, no matter how fragile and no matter how young, where they're actually beginning to try to solve their own problems within those institutions. Now, they're not going to solve them perfectly. They're not probably going to solve them the way that we might necessarily. But you see, step by step over the last year or so, the Iraqis taking more and more responsibility for solving their own political problems. And I would take, for example, what has been going on with the Kurds about provincial elections in Kirkuk. They have been resolving that among themselves. That's an important political process. On the security side, I think it's going to be somewhat clearer. They may need the help of multinational forces for a while, but ultimately, Iraqis have to be willing to defend and fight for their own freedom. And they are showing a desire to fight and defend their own freedom. We have to get them the capacity to do it. And I took note of what Senator Biden and Senator Hagel and others said this morning -- Senator Kerry -- about the need to make sure we're training forces in the right way, that we accelerate that training. I do look forward to General Luck's coming back and letting us know what the next phase ought to be. We face changing circumstances here, but I put a lot of emphasis on getting those security forces trained and then finally helping them economically. So it isn't that we have to see an Iraq that is a fully democratized, mature economy, fully able to deal with all of its divisions. That's going to take a very, very, very long time. What we have to see is that they've been launched on a path to be able to achieve that, that that path is one that is clear ahead for everybody, and where they are taking advantage of that path. And I think we will start to see that after these elections, when (ph) I think they're thinking in those ways. Senator, I've thought 1,000 times about how one thinks about nation-building, something that I famously said we probably wouldn't be involved in. We have been. And it's turned out that we've had to be, because our security depends on states that can function, on not having failed states in the midst."

- Condoleeza Rice, Confirmation Hearing, January 18, 2005

source

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


"...as soon as possible...I know that I want to get our troops home as quickly as we can; I also know we must complete the mission, and I'm confident we'll succeed. ... We have to stay to train Iraqis so they can get rid of them, and I think that's how you solve the riddle....There is a political process that is going forward, and we are helping to get this vote going ... The Iraqis will vote on January 30th, and right after the vote, we look forward to working with the newly constituted assembly that will form a government, to make sure the plans in place which are to train Iraqis so they can do the hard work, are accelerated. ... We have a strategy to help the newly formed government defeat the terrorists, but I readily concede that the only way that the terorrists will be defeated or the thugs will be defeated is for the Iraqis to defeat them."

- George W. Bush - Interview with Barbara Walters, January 14, 2005

source:  http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Inauguration/story?id=406639&page=1


If you know of any other instances where a top official describes the exit strategy (or non-exit strategy) from Iraq, please email the information to me.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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Page created on February 7, 2005

 

 

"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." - Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals - Nuremberg, Germany 1946

 

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, some of the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

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