- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The following are excerpts of President Bush’s speech last night at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.:

The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating and instructive. We’ve seen a car bombing take the life of a 61-year old Iraqi named Izzedine Salim, who was serving as president of the Governing Council. This crime shows our enemy’s intention to prevent Iraqi self-government, even if that means killing a lifelong patriot and a faithful Muslim. Mr. Salim was assassinated by terrorists seeking the return of tyranny and the death of democracy.

We’ve also seen images of a young American facing decapitation. This vile display … reveals a fanaticism that was not caused by any action of ours and would not be appeased by any concession.

We suspect that the man with the knife was an al Qaeda associate named [Abu Musaab] Zarqawi. He and other terrorists know that Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror, and we must understand that as well. The return of tyranny to Iraq would be an unprecedented terrorist victory and a cause for killers to rejoice. It would also embolden the terrorists, leading to more bombings, more beheadings and more murders of the innocent around the world.

The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology and give momentum to reformers across the region. This will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world. …

The swift removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime last spring had an unintended effect. Instead of being killed or captured on the battlefield, some of Saddam’s elite guards shed their uniforms and melted into the civilian population. These elements of Saddam’s repressive regime and secret police have reorganized, rearmed and adopted sophisticated terrorist tactics. They’ve linked up with foreign fighters and terrorists. …

Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal. …

Our enemies in Iraq … can incite men to murder and suicide, but they cannot inspire men to live in hope and add to the progress of their country. The terrorists’ only influence is violence and their only agenda is death.

Our agenda, in contrast, is freedom and independence, security and prosperity for the Iraqi people. …

There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom: We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government, help establish security, continue rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, encourage more international support, and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.

The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens who will prepare the way for national elections.

On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist and will not be replaced. The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs. …

Coalition forces and the Iraqi people have the same enemies: the terrorists, illegal militia and Saddam loyalists, who stand between the Iraqi people and their future as a free nation. Working as allies, we will defend Iraq and defeat these enemies. …

After June 30th, American and other forces will still have important duties. American military forces in Iraq will operate under American command as a part of a multinational force authorized by the United Nations. …

Today, the United States and Great Britain presented a new resolution in the Security Council to help move Iraq toward self-government. …

Next month at the NATO summit in Istanbul, I will thank our 15 NATO allies who together have more than 17,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. …

A United Nations team headed by Carina Perelli is now in Iraq helping form an independent election commission that will oversee an orderly, accurate national election. … A representative government that protects basic rights, elected by Iraqis, is the best defense against the return of tyranny. And that election is coming. …

I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power. I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history and find their own way. As they do, Iraqis can be certain a free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America. …

We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. … We must do our duty. …

Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. They seek to impose Taliban-like rule country by country across the greater Middle East. … They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein. …

Our actions, too, are guided by a vision.

We believe that freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East as it has advanced and changed lives in Asia, in Latin America, in Eastern Europe and Africa. We believe it is a tragedy of history that in the Middle East, which gave the world great gifts of law and science and faith, so many have been held back by lawless tyranny and fanaticism.

We believe that when all Middle Eastern peoples are finally allowed to live and think and work and worship as free men and women, they will reclaim the greatness of their own heritage. And when that day comes, the bitterness and burning hatreds that feed terrorism will fade and die away. …

These two visions — one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life — clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over and that nation is coming to life again.

These two visions have now met in Iraq and are contending for the future of that country.

The failure of freedom would only mark the beginning of peril and violence. But, my fellow Americans, we will not fail. We will persevere and defeat this enemy and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty. May God bless our country.

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