(by Susan Jones, Dec. 19, 2005, CybercastNewsService.com) – President Bush, in his prime-time speech to the nation Sunday night, hailed last week’s successful election in Iraq and said although it will not end the violence, it marks “the beginning of something new — constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East.”
Bush said not only can America win the war in Iraq — “we are winning the war in Iraq.”
Reaction to the speech fell along partisan lines.
President Bush “still does not get it,” when it comes to Iraq, said one of his leading Democratic critics.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement Sunday night, saying that Iraq did not pose an “imminent threat to the security of the United States” when President Bush began “his war of choice.”
She said Bush’s speech on Sunday is proof that he still doesn’t understand: “President Bush persists in pursuing a flawed policy that has not made the American people safer nor made the Middle East more secure. It is time for a new direction in Iraq — not more of the same,” Pelosi said.
But House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said President Bush’s plan will protect Americans and bring stability to the Middle East as well as freedom to the Iraqi people. “Any questions about the progress made in Iraq should have been answered by watching [last] week’s historic elections,” Hastert said in a statement.
“Democracy is spreading through Iraq, and the Iraqi people are actively participating in their government. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein is over. Our troops are getting the job done — and when they do, they will come home. Americans are safer, and Iraq is free because of them.”
Hastert also backed President Bush’s refusal to pull troops out of Iraq before the job is done: “Twice now, the House of Representatives has rejected calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq despite attempts by some Democrats to play politics with this war and America’s national security,” Hastert said.
“House Republicans will continue to support our troops and protect our national security.”
‘War is not lost’
In his 17-minute nationally televised address, President Bush discussed the progress made in Iraq and what lies ahead.
He warned Americans that the “testing and sacrifice” are not over, and he asked Americans “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.”
The president noted that after Baghdad fell, Americans discovered mass graves but not weapons of mass destruction.
He again admitted that much of the prewar intelligence “turned out to be wrong,” but said “it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power.”
“The work in Iraq has been especially difficult — more difficult than we expected,” President Bush said. “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.”
President Bush explained that in Iraq, he sees a “global terrorist movement that exploits Islam” in the attempt to achieve “radical political aims.” He said to the terrorists, the world is the battlefield, and if Americans weren’t fighting them in Iraq, “they would be on the offense, and headed our way.”
“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.
President Bush said bloody images on the evening news prove that the war is difficult, but not that Ameica is losing: “Behind the images of chaos that terrorists create for the cameras, we are making steady gains with a clear objective in view,” he said.
President Bush said his strategy for success in Iraq includes three points: the coalition will remain on the offensive; it will help Iraq establish a “lasting democracy”; and it will reconstruct Iraq’s economy and infrastructure – “to give Iraqis confidence that a free life will be a better life.”
He said the United States has learned from its experiences in Iraq and is fixing 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,” Bush said.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
President Bush also explained why he will not pull U.S. troops out of Iraq until the job is done. It would tell the world that America doesn’t keep its word, he said. It would undermine the cause for which Americans have given their lives, it would “cause the tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip.”
President Bush said, “To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor, and I will not allow it.”
He said he will base troop withdrawals on the advice of military leaders — not on “artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.”
President Bush also had words for skeptics and opponents of his war strategy: “I don’t expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request,” he said. “Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.”
President Bush said he realizes the “terrible loss” caused by some of his decisions, but those decisions have not been taken lightly, he said:
“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.”
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.
1. Why do you think President Bush gave a speech to the American people last night?
What did President Bush say in his speech last night about winning the war in Iraq?
(The White House website always provides the full text of the President’s speeches. For last night’s speech, go to WhiteHouse.gov.)
2. President Bush said in his speech that to the terrorists, the world is the battlefield, and if Americans weren’t fighting them in Iraq, “they would be on the offense, and headed our way.” Think about the terrorist attacks of September 11th, as well as other terrorist attacks that you know of. Also, consider the information the President has about terrorist groups. Do you agree with his assertion about terrorists? Explain your answer.
3. With whom do you agree:
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi who said: “President Bush persists in pursuing a flawed policy that has not made the American people safer nor made the Middle East more secure. It is time for a new direction in Iraq — not more of the same.”
Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert who said President Bush’s plan will protect Americans and bring stability to the Middle East as well as freedom to the Iraqi people. He also said “Americans are safer, and Iraq is free because of them [our troops].”
Explain your answer.
4. Define partisan. Do you think that politicians should act in a partisan manner regarding the Iraq war? Explain your answer.
5. Re-read the last ten paragraphs of the article (para. #’s 19-28) Did President Bush’s speech give you hope for the future of Iraq? Explain your answer.
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