President Bush Discusses Global War on Terror -Part 1-

Date: April 6, 2006
Location: Charlotte, NC

President Bush Discusses Global War on Terror
Central Piedmont Community College
Charlotte, North Carolina

10:45 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Firoz, thanks a lot. So I said, that's an interesting name. He said, I've lived in seven countries. But he also said he's proud to be an American. And we're proud you're an American. Thank you very much for inviting me. (Applause.)

You know, I was just standing here, listening to Firoz; one of the great things about our country is that you can come and you can enjoy the great blessings of liberty and you can be equally American if you've been here for one generation or 10 generations. I thought it was neat that somebody who has been -- you've been here 27 years though, right? Yes. Well, seven countries, 27 years here, introducing the President though. I think it says a lot about the United States of America. Thanks for having me.

I'm looking forward to sharing with you what's on my mind. I look forward to hearing what's on yours, as well. First thing is, Laura sends her best to the folks of Charlotte. She sends her best, Tony, to you and your bride. Thank you for having us here, to the Central Piedmont. I appreciate your involvement in education. I married well; she's a really patient person, too. (Laughter.)

I traveled down here with Congressman Robin Hayes, the Congressman from this district. Congressman, thank you for being here, appreciate it. (Applause.) I've known your Mayor for a long time. He's a man of accomplishment. I know he was particularly proud to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (Applause.) Pretty big deal, you know? It's a pretty big deal. Thank you all for coming. I want to thank the others who serve on the City Council who are here. The Mayor was telling me a lot of the council members are here. I appreciate your service to your city.

I think one of the things I'd like to tell you about is why and how I made some decisions I made. My friends from Texas who, once they get over the shock that I'm actually the President -- (laughter) -- like to ask me what it's like to be President. And I guess the simple job description would be, it is a decision-making experience. And I make a lot of decisions. Some of them you see, some of them you don't see. Decision making requires knowing who you are and what you believe. I've learned enough about Washington to know you can't make decisions unless you make them on principle. And once you make a decision based upon principle, you stand by what you decide.

In order to make good decisions, you've got to rely upon good people. People have got to feel comfortable about coming in the Oval Office and tell you what's on their mind. There's nothing worse than people walking in, say, well, I'm a little nervous around the guy, I think I'd better tell him what he thinks he needs to hear.

You can't do the country justice, you can't make good decisions unless you've got a lot of good, competent people around you, and I do -- Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State; Don Rumsfeld -- (applause) -- the Vice President. These are people who have seen good times, and they've seen tough times. But in all times, they're capable of walking in and telling me what's on their mind. That's what you need as the President. And then once you make up your mind, they say, yes -- yes, sir, Mr. President, I'll get it done.

The biggest decision I've had to make since I've been your President is putting kids in harm's way. It's a decision no President wants to make. It's a decision I wish I did not have to make. But I'd like to share with you why I made the decision I made.
First of all, war came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. It was a war we did not ask for, it's a war we did not want, but it is a war that I intend to deal with so long as I'm your President. (Applause.) In order to deal with this war on terror, you've got to understand the nature of the enemy. And I'll share my thoughts with -- about this enemy we face.

They're an enemy bound together by an ideology. These are not folks scattered around that are kind of angry and lash out at an opportune moment. These are people that are -- believe something, and their beliefs are totalitarian in nature. They believe you should not be able to worship freely. They believe that young girls should not go to school. They've got a perverted sense of justice. They believe in the use of violence to achieve their objectives. Their stated objectives, their stated goals are to spread their totalitarian view throughout the Middle East. That's what they want to do.

They have made it abundantly clear that they believe folks who live in America are weak, that we don't have the will to compete with their philosophy. That's what they believe. I'm just telling you what they said. I think it's really important in a time of war for the President to take the words of the enemy very seriously. And I do.

They think that the use of violence will cause us to lose our nerve and retreat. And they have stated that they want safe haven from which to not only topple moderate governments in the Middle East, but from which to launch attacks against the United States. Given that in mind, I'd like to share some of the lessons learned. One lesson is the nature of the enemy.

Another lesson is, is that we must defeat the enemy overseas so we don't have to face them here again. And that requires a strategy that is offensive in mind: press the enemy, find the enemy, bring the enemy to justice, never relent, never give them quarter, understand you cannot negotiate with these people. You can't rationalize with these people, that you must stay on the hunt and bring them to justice. This is precisely what we're doing.

One, obviously, immediate target is to dismantle al Qaeda. They hide in kind of the far reaches of the world. They plot and plan, however, from the far reaches of the world. They're good at communications. They're good at deception. They're good at propaganda. And they want to strike again. We have done a good job of dismantling the operating structure of al Qaeda -- Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Ramzi Binalshibh -- a series of these folks that have become the operating element of al Qaeda. Obviously Osama bin Laden and his sidekick Zawahiri is still at large. We understand that. But we're looking, and we're listening, and we're working with allies like President Musharraf of Pakistan, President Karzai of Afghanistan to bring this -- to bring the head of al Qaeda to justice.

The second lesson learned is that unlike previous wars, these folks -- this kind of terrorist network that is ideologically bound needs safe haven. They need a place to hide. They need a symbiotic relationship with governments that will enable them to plot, plan and attack.

So early on in the conflict, I not only vowed that we would use our fierce determination to protect this country by staying on the offense, but that we would deny safe haven to these terrorists. And so I said, if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist. And one thing that I think is really important for our citizens to understand is that when the President says something, he better mean what he says. In order to be effective, in order to maintain credibility, words have got to mean something. You just can't say things in the job I'm in and not mean what you say.

And I meant what I said. And so we said to the Taliban, get rid of the Taliban. They chose not to. I made my first decision to send our kids into harm's way and liberate Afghanistan. The decision to liberate Afghanistan was based first and foremost on the need to enforce the doctrine that I thought was necessary to protect the American people. One of the benefits of sending our kids into harm's way was that we liberated 25 million people from the clutches of one of the most barbaric regimes known to the history of man.

Laura and I went over to that fledgling democracy. We went to see President Karzai. It was a remarkable experience. It's hard to describe. You know, I'm not -- I'm not such a good poet. Let me put it to you this way: My spirits were lifted to see people committed to democracy, recognizing that democracy stands in stark contrast to the life these people had to live under the Taliban.

The task now is to continue to fight off the Taliban and al Qaeda that would continue to try to disrupt the march of the new democracy, help this country survive and thrive and grow, and help the Afghan citizens realize the dreams of men and women that they can live in a free and peaceful world. Remember, these folks have voted for a President and voted for a parliament. I'm proud of the progress we're making there. It's an historic achievement for our country and for our troops. And it was a necessary achievement to enforce the doctrines that we said were necessary to protect our people.

Another lesson -- this is an important lesson for the country. It's one that kind of sometimes can get obscured in the politics of Washington, but it's one that I'm confident when I tell you it's necessary for this country to adhere to. It's going to be necessary for me or whoever follows me. When we see a threat, we have got to take the threat seriously before it comes to hurt us.

You know, growing up in Midland, Texas, we all felt pretty secure as a kid, mainly because we thought oceans could protect us. Now in my case, we were really far away from oceans, too, but nevertheless, it's -- when you think about it, though, if you're a baby boomer, like me, you think about what it was like growing up, we knew there was a nuclear threat. Of course we had put forth an interesting sounding strategy called "mutually assured destruction," which provided an umbrella for security and safety.

But nevertheless, we never really felt anybody would invade us, did we? We never felt there would be another attack like Pearl Harbor on our lands. And yet September the 11th changed all that. More people died on September the 11th because of an attack by an enemy on our shore than died at Pearl Harbor. The biggest threat we face is when a terrorist network is able to acquire weapons even stronger than airplanes. If the terrorist network were ever to get weapons of mass destruction, one of their stated objectives, our country and the free world would face a serious threat.

I saw a threat in Iraq. Not only did I see a threat in Iraq, the previous administration saw a threat in Iraq. Not only did the previous -- which, by the way, passed a resolution in the United States Congress that said we ought to have a regime change in Iraq. Not only did the previous administration see a threat in Iraq, members of both political parties in both chambers during my time as President saw a threat in Iraq. And the reason we saw threats is because the intelligence said that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction.

But it wasn't just U.S. intelligence that said that, there was -- the worldwide intelligence network felt like he had weapons of mass destruction. After all, when I took the case to the United Nations Security Council, the Security Council voted 15 to nothing to say loud and clear: disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. That's not what the United States said alone. This is what France and Great Britain, China, Russia, and members of the Security Council said, because the world felt like Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and after 9/11 it was abundantly clear that a state sponsor of terror, which is what he had been declared by previous administrations, and the idea of weapons of mass destruction, and the fact that he was at least, at the very minimum, a stated enemy of the United States of America posed a serious threat for our country.

My biggest job is to protect the American people. That became abundantly clear on September the 11th. It's important to pass good reform for education, it's important to support the community college system, it's important to work for, you know, a Medicare plan that meets the needs. My biggest job is to protect you -- at least that's how I see the job. Much of my decision-making, by the way, is based upon what happened on September the 11th. It had an effect on me, just like it had an effect on the country. I've never forgotten that day. I've never forgotten the lessons learned, and so when we saw a threat, we got to take it seriously. Oceans could no longer protect us. The enemy was able to strike us and kill, and they were dangerous.

And before a President ever commits troops, you got to try diplomacy at all costs. I'm going to say to you what I said before, putting those kids in harm's way is a tough, difficult decision. And nobody should ever want to do it, because I understand fully the consequences of the decision. And so as I told you, I went to the diplomatic route. I was hoping that when the world spoke with that one voice at the United Nations Security Council, Saddam Hussein would see the reason of the free world. But he didn't.

I felt all along the decision was his to make. He said -- the world said, disclose, disarm. In the meantime, I want you to remember, he was deceiving inspectors. It's a logical question to ask: Why would somebody want to deceive inspectors? I also told you earlier that when America speaks, we got to mean what we said. I meant what we said when we embraced that resolution that said disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. Words mean something in this world if you're trying to protect the American people.

I fully understand that the intelligence was wrong, and I'm just as disappointed as everybody else is. But what wasn't wrong was Saddam Hussein had invaded a country. He had used weapons of mass destruction. He had the capability of making weapons of mass destruction. He was firing at our pilots. He was a state sponsor of terror. Removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing for world peace and the security of our country. (Applause.)

Iraq is now the central front on the war on terror. The war on terror is broader than Iraq, but Iraq is the key battlefield right now. And the enemy has made it so.

The advance of democracy frightens the totalitarians that oppose us. Mr. Zarqawi, who is there in Iraq, is al Qaeda. He's not Iraqi, by the way. He is there representing the al Qaeda network, trying to stop the advance of democracy. It's an interesting question, isn't it, why would somebody want to stop democracy -- like, what's wrong with democracy; Mister, why are you afraid of it? Are you threatened by the fact that people get to speak and you don't get to dictate? Are you threatened by the fact that people should be able to worship the Almighty freely? What about democracy that bothers -- I think it's a legitimate question we all ought to be asking.

But nevertheless, he's tough, and he's mean, and he'll kill innocent people in order to shake our will. They have stated, clearly stated -- they being al Qaeda -- that it's just a matter of time for the United States to lose its nerve. They recognize they cannot beat us on the battlefield, they cannot militarily defeat the United States of America, but they can affect our conscience. And I can understand why. Nobody likes to see violence on the TV screens. Nobody wants to see little children blown up when a U.S. soldier is trying to give them candy. Nobody likes to see innocent women die at the hands of suicide bombers. It breaks our heart.

The United States of America is an incredibly compassionate nation. We value human life, whether it be here at home, or whether it be abroad. It's one of the really noble features of our country, I think. Nobody likes to see that, and the enemy understands that, however. They know that if we lose our nerve and retreat from Iraq, they win.

We've got a strategy for victory in Iraq. It's important for you to know that victory will be achieved with a democracy that can sustain itself, a country that will be able to defend itself from those who will try to defeat democracy at home, a country that will be an ally in the war on terror, and a country that will deny al Qaeda and the enemies that face America the safe haven they want. Those are the four categories for victory. And they're clear, and our command structure and our diplomats in Iraq understand the definition of victory.

And we're moving that way, we're moving that way. We've got a plan to help rebuild Iraq. You know, when we first went in there -- by the way, every war plan or every plan is fine, until it meets the enemy. But you've got to adjust. You've got to be able to say on the ground, well, this is working, this isn't working. The enemy is not a -- they think differently, they make different decisions, they come up with different tactics to try to defeat us. And it's very important for us -- for me to say to our commanders and our diplomats, devise that strategy on the ground; keep adjusting, so that we achieve the victory that we want.

So when we first got into Iraq, we went with big rebuilding projects. You know, we're going to help them do this, and help them do that, big electricity projects. And the enemy blew them up. And so what we've done now is we've gone to a more rational strategy to provide money for local folks, including our military, to help smaller projects, but projects that are able to connect with the people on the ground. You know, jobs helps a lot, if you're trying to say, democracy is worth it.

Second aspect of our plan was to promote democracy. And I know four months in the way these news cycles work seems like a decade -- at least it does to me at times, you know? (Laughter.) Four months ago, 12 million people went to the polls. It was an amazing event, wasn't it, I mean, really think about it. You can project back to the amazement, surprise, exhilaration that happened when, given a chance to vote for the third time in one year, the Iraqi people having had suffered under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein said, I want to be free. That's what we want to be. That's what they said. Twelve million people, in the face of incredible threats and potential suicide bombers -- and ugly words coming out of those who fear democracy -- said, give me a chance. It was an amazing experience. It was a -- in my judgment, a moment that is historic.

Part of the task now is to say to the Iraqis -- leaders, the people said something, now you need to get -- you need to act. You need to get a unity government together. And that's what we're watching right now. It takes a while for people to overcome the effects of tyranny, and there's just a lot of politics happening in Iraq. It's a little different from what used to be the place. It's a little different from other countries in that part of the world where one person makes a decision, and everybody kind of either likes it or doesn't like it, but you keep your mouth shut if you don't like it.

Here you're watching people kind of edging for responsibility and working it, and we're very much involved. I know you know Condi went over there the other day, and her message was, let's get moving. The people want there to be a unity government. The people want there to be a democracy, and it requires leadership for people to stand up and take the lead. And so we're working with them to get this unit government up and running.

And then there's the security side. You can't have a democracy unless the people are confident in the capacity of the state to protect them from those who want to stop the advance of democracy. The enemy for a while tried to shake our nerve. They can't shake my nerve. They just can't shake it. So long as I think I'm doing the right thing, and so long as we can win, I'm going to leave our kids there because it's necessary for the security of this country. If I didn't think that we could win, I'd pull them out. You just got to know that. I cannot sit with the mothers and fathers of our troops in harm's way and not feel like victory is necessary and victory will be achieved.

Part of my decision-making process about whether they're there is based upon whether or not the goal is necessary and attainable. It's necessary to protect this country. I'm going to talk about it a little later. And it is attainable. It's attainable because the Iraqis on the political side have said, you bet. Give us a chance. They wrote a constitution; they ratified the constitution. Twelve million went to the polls. That's a high voter turnout, by the way. On the security side, our goal, our mission is to let the Iraqis take the fight. And as I -- I've always been saying, they stand up, we stand down. That means, we train the Iraqis to take the fight to those who want to disrupt their country.

And we're making good progress on the military side. By the way, we had to change our tactics. When we first got there, we said, why don't we train us an army that will be able to protect from an outside threat. It turned out there wasn't much of an outside threat compared to the inside threat. And so now the training mission has adapted to the tactics of the enemy on the ground. We're embedding our guys with the Iraqi army. They're becoming more efficient. There's over 200,000 trained. And we're constantly monitoring the quality of effort. And as the quality of the forces improves, they take over more territory. The idea is to have the Iraqi face in front, making the -- helping the folks get the confidence in their government.

We lagged in police training. And so General Casey, as he -- who is our General on the ground there, told me, he said, you know, this is going to be the year of training the police so they can bring confidence to people.

The enemy shifted its tactics, as you know, and has tried to create a civil war. And they blew up the -- one of the holiest sites in Samara, trying to get the Sunnis to get after the Shia, and vice versa. It's been an objective for awhile. First it was go after coalition troops. They're still danger for our troops, don't get me wrong. But they really tried to incite a civil war. And what was interesting to watch is to watch the reaction for the -- by the government. The government, including many of the religious leaders, stood up and said, no, we don't want to go there; we're not interested in a civil war.

The Iraqi troops did a good job of getting between some mosques and crowds, and they got in between competing elements and stood their ground. And as I put it awhile ago, they said, the Iraqi people looked into the abyss and didn't like what they saw. And it's still troublesome, of course. There's still sectarian violence. You can't have a free state if you've got militia taking the law into their own hands.

Now remember, this is a society adjusting to being free after a tyranny. And Saddam Hussein's tactics to keep the country in check was to pit one group of people against another and say, I'm the only stabilizing force for you. He was brutal on Shia, he destroyed with chemical weapons many Kurds, and he was tough on Sunnis, too. But he created a kind of -- this sense of rivalry.

And so you can understand why there's revenge after years of this kind of tension he created. Our job, and the job of rational Iraqi leaders is to prevent these sectarian reprisal attacks from going on. And it's tough work, but I want you to know, we understand the problem. More importantly, General Casey understands the problem.

We're adjusting our tactics to be able to help these Iraqis secure their country so that democracy can flourish. They want democracy. That's what they've said. The troops, time and time again, have shown that they're better trained than before. And we've got more work to do on that, I readily concede. There's a lot of debate and a lot of questions about what's happening, I understand that.

Again, I repeat to you, I know what violence does to people. First of all, I'm confident -- people are saying, I wonder if these people can ever get their act together and self-govern. The answer is, I'm confident they can if we don't lose our nerve.
One of the decision -- principles -- a principle on which I made decisions is this: I believe that freedom is universal. America was founded on the natural rights of men and women, which speaks to the universality of freedom. And if you believe in the universality of freedom, then you have confidence that if given a chance, people will seize that opportunity. No question the Iraqis need help after living under the thumb of a tyrant.

But freedom is embedded, I believe, in the souls of men and women all over the earth. You know, you don't demand freedom just -- more than Methodists demand freedom, let me put it to you that way. I'm a Methodist. (Laughter.) There's an interesting debate -- is it imposing one's values to encourage others to live in freedom? I argue the answer to that question is, absolutely not, if you believe in the universality of freedom.

And so while thrilled to see the vote, I was -- I wasn't shocked. People want to be free. I know you're thinking about, well, when's he going to get our troops out of there? There's a debate going on in Washington, D.C., which it should, and it's an important debate about our troop levels. Here's my answer to you: I'm not going to make decisions based upon polls and focus groups. I'm going to make my decisions based upon the recommendations of our generals on the ground. They're the ones who decide how to achieve the victory I just described. They're the ones who give me the information.

I remember coming up in the Vietnam War and it seemed like that there was a -- during the Vietnam War, there was a lot of politicization of the military decisions. That's not going to be the case under my administration. They say, well, does George Casey tell you the truth? You bet he tells me the truth. When I talk to him, which I do quite frequently, I've got all the confidence in the world in this fine General. He's a smart guy, he's on the ground, he's making incredible sacrifices for our country, and he -- if he says he needs more troops, he'll get them, and if he says he can live with fewer troops because the Iraqis are prepared to take the fight, that's the way it's going to be.

There are some in Washington, D.C. and around the country who are good folks, legitimate, decent folks, saying, pull the troops out. That would be a huge mistake. It would be a huge -- it would be a huge -- (applause) -- hold on a second -- it would be a huge mistake for these reasons: The enemy has said that they want us to leave Iraq in order to be able to regroup and attack us. If the American people -- the American government, not the people -- were to leave prematurely before victory is achieved, it would embolden the enemy.

Now, I recognize some don't see the enemy like I do. There's kind of a different view of the enemy. That's a good thing about America, people can have different points of view, you know? And people should be allowed to express them, which is great.
I see an enemy that is totalitarian in nature, that's clearly stated they want to attack us again, and they want safe haven from which to do so. That's why they're trying to stop democracy in Iraq. If we were to pull out our troops early, it would send a terrible signal to the Iraqis. Twelve million people said, I want to be free. And they need our help. We're helping the Iraqis achieve freedom. They watch these deals. They listen carefully to the debate in America. They need to watch -- by the way -- they need to watch this debate, which is good. It's what free societies do, they debate. But they're also listening very carefully about whether or not this country has got the will necessary to achieve the objective.

Thirdly, if we left before the mission was complete, what would it say to our troops and the families, particularly those who have lost a loved one? I spend -- let me say this about our military -- the volunteer army is a necessary part of our society. We need to maintain the volunteer army. It is a really -- we've got a magnificent group of men and women who serve our country. Do you realize most people who served, are serving today, volunteered after 9/11? They saw the stakes, and they said, I want to join the United States military. The retention rate is high, which means we've got people serving in uniform who not only volunteered and saw the stakes, but have been involved in this conflict and said, I'd like to stay in the military.

It is a -- the military is a vital part of securing this country in the war on terror. Now, if you don't think we're at war, then it probably doesn't matter that much. I not only think we're at war, I know we're at war. And it's going to require diligence and strength and a really -- and a military that's well paid, well housed, well trained, where morale is high. And pulling out before the mission is complete would send a terrible signal to the United States military.

I welcome the debate, but I just want people here to know, we're going to complete the mission. We'll achieve victory. And I want to say this to the Iraqi people: We want to help you achieve your dreams. And the United States of America will not be intimidated by thugs and assassins. (Applause.)

I got one more thing to say, then I -- I got one more thing to say. I know I'm getting a little windy. I want to talk to people about why it's important for us to succeed in Iraq, and Afghanistan, for that matter. I told you there's a short-term reason -- deny safe haven and help get allies in the war on terror to prevent this totalitarian movement from gaining a stronghold in places from which they can come hit us.

There's a longer term reason, as well, and that is, you defeat an ideology of darkness with an ideology of hope and light. And freedom and liberty are part of an ideology of light. Our foreign policy in the past has been one that said, well, if the waters look calm in parts of the world, even though there may not be freedom, that's okay. The problem with that foreign policy is below the surface there was resentment and anger and despair, which provided a fertile ground for a totalitarian group of folks to spread their poisonous philosophy and recruit.

The way to defeat this notion of -- their notion of society is one that is open, that is democratic, that is based upon liberty. This doesn't have to be an American-style democracy. It won't be. Democracy has got to reflect the tradition and the history of the countries in which it takes hold. I understand that. And nobody in the Middle East should think that when the President talks about liberty and democracy, he's saying you got to look just like America, or act like America. Nobody is saying that.

I am saying, though, trust your people; give them a chance to participate in society. I believe a society is a whole society in which women are free and are given equal rights. I believe there's a whole society in which young girls are given a chance to go to school and become educated. I believe it's a whole society when government actually responds to people not dictates to people. That's what I believe. And I believe that it's the best way in the long run to defeat an ideology that feels the opposite way. And we've seen it happen in our history before. It's happened in some of your lifetimes.

One of the ways I like to describe what I'm trying to tell you is about my relationship with Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. I say this all the time, as the press corps will tell you traveling with me -- when is he ever going to quit saying that? Well, it's the best example I can give you about what I'm trying to describe is happening today during these historic times. My dad fought the Japanese as an 18-year-old kid -- or 19 -- he went in at 18, I guess. But he was in combat. Many of your relatives fought the Japanese. It's hard to think back and kind of remember the bitterness that we had toward the Japanese. They attacked the United States of America and killed a lot of folks. And we want to war with them, and a lot of people died, and it was a bloody war.

After the war -- and by the way, it ended with an old doctrine of warfare, which is, destroy as many innocent people as you can to get the guilty to surrender. That's changed, by the way, with the precision nature of our military, and the way we're structured, and the way our troops think, is we now target the guilty and spare the innocent. That's another subject if you got a question. But anyway, today my friend in keeping the peace is Prime Minister of Japan.

Amazing, isn't it? Maybe you take it for granted. I don't. I think it's one of the really interesting parts of -- one of the interesting stories of history, that 60 years after we fought the Japanese, I can tell you that I work with Prime Minister Koizumi on a variety of issues. It's amazing, I think. I know 60 seems like a long time. If I were six or seven, it would seem like a long time. At 59, it seems like a long time. (Laughter.) Maybe when I'm 60, it will seem like a short time.

Anyway, so what happened? What was it that caused something to change, an enemy to become an ally? I believe it's because the Japanese adopted a Japanese-style democracy. And I appreciate the fact that one of my predecessors, Harry S. Truman, had the foresight to see the capacity of freedom, the universal right of people to change the world, to make it so that eventually an American President would be able to say, we're working together to keep the peace. They're no longer an enemy; they're a friend. Democracies don't war.

Europe is whole and free and at peace for a reason. We lost thousands of troops on the continent of Africa -- on the continent of Europe since World War I. Thousands and thousands of young men and women lost their lives during that war. And today, there's peace. And the reason why is because democracies don't war with each other.

I believe that one day an American President will be talking about the world in which he is making decisions, or she is making decisions, and they'll look back and say, thank goodness a generation of Americans understood the universality of liberty and the fact that freedom can change troubled parts of the world into peaceful parts of the world.

Is it worth it in Iraq? You bet it is. It's worth it to protect ourselves in the short-run, but it's necessary and worth it to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come. And that's what's on my mind these days. (Applause.)

I'll be glad to answer questions. Yes, ma'am.