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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five years in Iraq

Today marks five years that we've been in Iraq.

Here's an excerpt from President Bush's speech today about the war:
Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting ... whether the fight is worth winning... and whether we can win it. The answers are clear to me: Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision – and this is a fight America can and must win.

Over the past five years, we have seen moments of triumph and moments of tragedy. We have watched in admiration as 12 million Iraqis defied the terrorists, went to the polls, and chose their leaders in free elections. And we have watched in horror as al Qaida beheaded innocent captives, and sent suicide bombers to blow up mosques and markets. These actions show the brutal nature of the enemy in Iraq. And they serve as a grim reminder: The terrorists who murder the innocent in the streets of Baghdad want to murder the innocent in the streets of American cities. Defeating this enemy in Iraq will make it less likely we will face this
enemy here at home.

A little over a year ago, the fight in Iraq was faltering. Extremist elements were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos.

My Administration understood that America could not retreat in the face of terror. We knew that if we did not act, the violence that had been consuming Iraq would have worsened, spread, and could eventually have reached genocidal levels. Baghdad could have disintegrated into a contagion of killing, and Iraq could have descended into full-blown sectarian warfare. So we reviewed our strategy – and changed course in Iraq. We sent reinforcements into the country in a dramatic policy shift that has become known as “the surge.”.

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around – it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror. For the terrorists, Iraq was supposed to be the place where al Qaida rallied Arab masses to drive America out. Instead, Iraq has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al Qaida out. In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his terror network. And the
significance of this development cannot be overstated.

I don't really want to get into a huge debate over the war in Iraq.

Instead, I ask all of you today to simply stop and think about those making the sacrifices in it to ensure our freedom and our safety. Think about the troops who are in Iraq right now; think about the troops who have come home safely. Think about the troops who are preparing themselves to go; think about the troops recovering in Walter Reed and other military hospitals. Think about those who have died fighting; think about those who are left behind, hoping and praying their loved ones will come home safely. Think about those grieving the loss of their son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister; those grieving the loss of someone who was much more than a friend, but a comrade.

Just remember.

That's all I ask of you today. Remember. And be thankful.