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Bush Declares Violence in Iraq Tests U.S. Will
NY Times

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ST. LOUIS, Aug. 26 President Bush characterized the continuing fighting in Iraq today as "a point of testing in the war on terror," and vowed that the United States would not back down there or anywhere it confronts violent Islamic extremism.

In a broad defense of his foreign policy, Mr. Bush suggested that pacifying Iraq, hunting down Al Qaeda and bringing peace to the Middle East were all part of a larger struggle against terrorists fearful of democracy and civilized values.

His speech here, to the annual convention of the American Legion, came a year to the day after Vice President Dick Cheney used an appearance before another veterans' group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to set out the administration's first rationale for war with Iraq.

Mr. Cheney had emphasized the threat of Saddam Hussein's deploying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or sharing them with terrorists. But no such weapons have been found, and Mr. Bush mentioned them only in passing. He did not repeat his administration's prewar assertions that Mr. Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda, but made a general argument about the threat from those who hate, among others, "Christians and Jews and every Muslim who does not share their narrow and violent vision."

He made the case that failing to take the fight to terrorists wherever they are would expose the United States to attacks at home. "Our military is confronting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places so our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York or St. Louis or Los Angeles," he said. {Translation: "Because Lord knows that the terrorists are only in the middle east. If they are not in the middle east, then they will be drawn there - because I said so."}

Facing pressure from both parties to do more to protect American troops and bring Iraq under control, he said he would "work with the Congress to make sure we provide the resources to do the work of freedom and security," {Translation: "Work with congress on burning more money and American lives on my little red herring in Iraq which provides the Federal Reserve with freedom and security to further plummet the American Public."} a reference to the likelihood that peacekeeping will require more money. "Retreat in the face of terror would only invite further and bolder attacks," he said. "There will be no retreat." {Translation: "I just keep telling those U.S. Soldiers to going with the raids and interrogations no matter how many get killed and they just keep on going; it's good to be the president."}

Today, the toll of American casualties since May 1, when Mr. Bush proclaimed the end of major combat operations, rose above the number who died during the war. But he made no specific mention of sending more troops. Nor did he offer any hint that he would be willing to cede any control over the military operation to the United Nations in order to build a broad coalition there.

While acknowledging that the struggle to rebuild Iraq remained dangerous and would not end quickly, he emphasized the positive, suggesting that attacks like the bombing of the United Nations compound in Baghdad last week were acts of desperation by terrorists the United States has put on the run.

"The remnants of Saddam's regime are still dangerous, and terrorists are gathering in Iraq to undermine the advance of freedom," Mr. Bush said. "Al Qaeda and the other global terror networks recognize that the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime is a defeat for them.

"They know that a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a further defeat for their ideology of terror. They know that the spread of peace and hope in the Middle East would undermine the appeal of bitterness, resentment and violence. And the more progress we make in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists will become. Freedom is a threat to their way of life." {Translation: "Remember, terrorists are only worried about Iraq and the middle east - Don't pay attention to those stories about tens of thousands of terrorists gathering in Canada. I mean - they are obviously lost and unhappy in a free land, so Canada must be communist or worse being so close to Russia and all."}

In lumping the forces attacking the United States and its allies in Iraq together with Al Qaeda and, to a lesser extent, with violent Palestinian organizations, he glossed over their differing agendas and motives and the varying threats they pose. He spoke instead of the violence emanating from the Muslim world as a force demanding a long-term commitment to defend the principles of tolerance and freedom. "No act of terrorists will weaken our resolve or alter their fate," he said. "Our only goal, our only option, is total victory in the war on terror, and this nation will press on to victory." {Translation: "Jews? Terrorists? What a Rush! Now I know how Hitler felt!"}

His speech came a day after the administration kicked off an effort to defend its foreign and military policy with speeches by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, both of whom urged patience.

In a sign that Mr. Bush viewed his appearance as a major address in both policy and political terms, he was accompanied by Karen Hughes, the former White House communications director, who still counsels him on important speeches.

Sensing that Mr. Bush may be vulnerable on foreign policy just months after what seemed to be a successful conclusion to the war, Democrats are increasingly attacking him in his role as commander in chief.

Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said today it was "incomprehensible" that Mr. Bush had not sought additional troops for Iraq from NATO and the United Nations. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said "a lack of planning and a lack of candor with the American people have placed our men and women in uniform in increased harm's way."

Mr. Bush's address had the tone of a rallying cry, winning sustained applause from the veterans for his pledge of resolve. Just as after World War II, he told the audience, promoting democracy and freedom would take time to succeed.

He also used the speech to review the three main theaters of conflict in the war as he defined it: in Afghanistan, where he said the hunt for Taliban and Qaeda fighters goes on; in the Middle East, where he called on Arab leaders to crack down on Palestinian extremists, and in Iraq, where, he said, "the prison cells for children are empty, and the people who speak their minds need not fear execution." {Translation: "Those primitive terrorists lack our sophisticated methods for public control."}

Of the 55 "most wanted" Iraqis, Mr. Bush said, 42 have been captured or killed. Military raids have netted 8,200 tons of ammunition (any less than could be found in Texas?), thousands of AK-47's and rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, Mr. Bush said. More than 38,000 Iraqis have been hired as police officers, he said.

Click for a cute picture of Adolph BushTurning to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Mr. Bush said "a Palestinian state will never be built on a foundation of violence."

"Now is the time for every true friend of the Palestinian people, every leader in the Middle East, and the Palestinian people themselves to cut off all money and support for terrorists and actively fight terror on all fronts," he said. "Only then can Israel be secure and the flag rise over an independent Palestine." {Translation: "Either Me or my buddy, Sharon, are going to rise our flag over Palestine."}

Mr. Bush said the course of American-led efforts in Iraq and the Middle East would have an influence on other nations that might pose a threat, including Iran.

"The people who yearn for liberty and opportunity in countries like Iran and throughout the Middle East are watching," he said, "and they are praying for our success in Iraq." {Translation: "My dad gave biological weapons to Hussein to use against Iran years ago. Now those Iranians are praying that we successfully keep the violence and terrorism out of their country - not if I have anything to do with it!"}

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