National Dress-Up Day: 4 Years Of Living Dangerously

George W. Bush plays dress-upGeorge W. Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003:

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.)

This nation thanks all the members of our coalition who joined in a noble cause. We thank the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, who shared in the hardships of war. We thank all the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country. And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld, for General Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done. (Applause.)

In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear. (Applause.)

The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 — and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men — the shock troops of a hateful ideology — gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation’s resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed. (Applause.)

The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We’ve removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. (Applause.)

In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th — the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got. (Applause.)

The war on terror is not over; yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory. (Applause.)

George W. Bush at MacDill Air Force Base (sans flight suit) on May 1, 2007:

In 2005, nearly 12 million Iraqis demonstrated their desire, their deep desire, to live in freedom and peace. Iraqis voted in three national elections — choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. In 2006, a thinking enemy, a brutal enemy responded to this progress and struck back — staging sensational attacks that led to a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal in Baghdad.

As sectarian violence threatened to destroy this young democracy, our coalition faced a choice. One option was to help the Iraqi government tamp down the sectarian violence and provide them with the breathing space they need to achieve reconciliation — provide them the breathing space they need to take the political and economic measures necessary to make sure our military efforts were effective. The other option was to pull back from the capital, before the Iraqis could defend themselves against these radicals and extremists and death squads and killers. That risked turning Iraq into a cauldron of chaos. Our enemy, the enemies of freedom, love chaos. Out of that chaos they could find new safe havens. Withdrawal would have emboldened these radicals and extremists. It would have confirmed their belief that our nations were weak. It would help them gain new recruits, new resources. It would cause them to believe they could strike free nations at their choice.

Withdrawal would have increased the probability that coalition troops would be forced to return to Iraq one day, and confront an enemy that is even more dangerous. Failure in Iraq should be unacceptable to the civilized world. The risks are enormous.

So after an extensive review, I ordered a new strategy that is dramatically different from the one we were pursuing before. I listened to our military commanders; I listened to politicians from both sides of the aisle. I made a decision. I appointed a new commander, General David Petraeus, to carry out this strategy. This new strategy recognizes that our top priority must be to help the Iraqi government secure its capital so they can make economic and political progress.

The Iraqis cannot yet do this on their own. So I ordered reinforcements to help Iraqis secure their population, to go after those inciting sectarian violence, and to help the Iraqis get their capital under control.

This strategy is still in its early stages. Some of the reinforcements General Petraeus requested have not yet arrived in Baghdad. He believes it will take months before we can accurately gauge the strategy’s potential for success. Yet at this early hour, we are seeing some signs that give us hope. Coalition forces have captured a number of key terrorist leaders who are providing information about how al Qaeda operates in Iraq. They stopped a car bomb network that had killed many citizens of Baghdad, and destroyed major car bomb factories. There has been a decline in sectarian violence. And in some areas of the capital, Iraqis are returning to their neighborhoods with an increased feeling of security.

Terrorists and the extremists continue to unleash horrific acts of violence. Al Qaeda is playing a major role. Last week, General Petraeus called al Qaeda "probably public enemy number one" in Iraq. He said that al Qaeda has made Iraq "the central front in their global campaign." And that’s why success in Iraq is critical to the security of free people everywhere.

Everyone in this room knows the consequences of failure in Iraq, and that we should also appreciate the consequences of success, because we have seen them before. Following World War II, many nations helped lift the defeated populations of Japan and Germany, and stood with them as they built representative governments from societies that had been ravaged and decimated. We committed years and resources to this cause. And that effort has been repaid many times over in three generations of prosperity and peace. During the Cold War, the NATO Alliance worked to liberate nations from communist tyranny, even as allies bickered, and millions marched in the streets against us, and the pundits lost hope. We emerged from that struggle with a Europe that is now whole and free and at peace.

We look back at that history and marvel at what millions of ordinary people accomplished. Yet success was not preordained, and the outcome was not certain. Only now we can see those eras with the proper perspective. I believe that one day future generations will look back at this time in the same way, and they will be awed by what our coalition has helped to build. They will see that we strengthened alliances, offered new relevance to international institutions, encouraged new forms of multilateral engagement, and laid the foundation of peace for generations to come.

These are difficult times. These are tough times. These are times of test and resolve of free people. These are times that require hard work and courage and faith in the ability of liberty to yield the pace we want.

Mission Accomplished.

I really have one question today I would like answered. My blogger friend from Iraq, Miraj, has not posted since January 29 2007. In the last post she wrote, she said: "* No one dies in this story so please do not worry :D*"

While it is easy to toss around grand words like "resolve", "courage", "faith" and "liberty" I want to know that those who bear the brunt of the rhetoric of this disconnected President can survive his folly.

Miraj, I look forward to your next post.


This entry was posted in Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Iraq, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to National Dress-Up Day: 4 Years Of Living Dangerously

  1. ZaFa says:

    Some days I wonder how should I answer, many years from now, to my kids’ or their kids’ questions when (it’s not a question of ‘if’) they’d ask how did people let Bush get away with atrocities in such massive proportion? [-(

  2. Robbie says:

    I always wondered about Miraj. I hope she is well.

  3. Ingrid says:

    I have been worried about Miraj as well! I have kept checking on her as it were but the none activity from someone in Iraq can’t help but leave you worried..

  4. Mash says:

    Robbie, Ingrid, sorry for the late response. I am concerned about her. Its possible that she has made it to Jordan. Any such indication would be welcome news.

Comments are closed.