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Bush: U.S. Will See Iraq Victory Strategy Through

US soldiers are seen at sunset standing at a hill overlooking the Iraqi northern city of Kirkuk, 11 December 2005. Four days from a landmark parliamentary election, Iraq imposed a security clampdown with the help of US forces to keep insurgent violence at bay and protect voters as they choose leaders for the next four years. AFP photo by Filippo Monteforte.

Washington (AFP) Dec 12, 2005
America has a solid strategy for victory in Iraq and will see that strategy through, President Bush said today in Minneapolis.

"We will defeat the terrorists in Iraq. We will not let al Qaeda get a stronghold in Iraq," Bush said. "We'll help this country develop a democracy, which will send a powerful signal to people in Damascus and Tehran."

The U.S. strategy is two-fold, he explained. The United States and coalition are helping the Iraqis establish a democracy. At the same time, they're training Iraqis so they can take the right to the enemy and defend their country.

Steady progress is being realized in both efforts, he said. He pointed to political progress, with the upcoming Dec. 15 national elections, and achievements among Iraqi security forces that are gaining in capability and taking the lead in more operations.

The short-term objective is to stay on the hunt and bring terrorists to justice before they harm the United States again, the president said. "I'd rather be defeating them there than face them here at home," he said.

Over the long term, the objective is to spread democracy and freedom around the world, Bush said, reducing terrorists' ability to spread their ideology of hatred.

Terrorists hate America and all it stands for, the president said.

"They hate us because we stand for what they don't believe in," he said. "We believe in freedom. We believe in the freedom for people to worship any way they want. ... We believe that people can speak their minds freely. We believe that people can write their editorials the way they want to write them. We believe in freedom, and we're not going to change."

The terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, brought the depth of terrorists' hatred into full focus, and forever changed the United States and its citizens, Bush said.

"We must never forget the lessons of that day," he said. "We must deal with threats before they fully materialize."

Iraq has become a central front in what Bush called the terrorists "war against humanity," and so the United States must recognize Iraq as its central front in the war against terrorists, the president said.

"We're there for one reason, and that is to achieve a victory to make America more secure," Bush said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Former US Envoy Optimistic On Iraq
Washington (UPI) Dec 12, 2005
The biggest problem facing Iraq is neither the insurgency nor the economy but whether its political system can produce a viable government, former Presidential envoy to Iraq, Ambassador Robert Blackwill, said Monday.

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