Bush says Iraq war was worth it
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
March 19, 2008
the fifth anniversary of the war, George W. Bush will claim in a speech
released last night that he has no doubts that the war he launched against the
sovereign country of Iraq was "right" and worth the "high cost in lives and
treasure." In the speech to be delivered today, Bush will say that we must
continue the war which has already cost three trillion dollars and more than
4,000 American lives in order to send Iran a message and to stop Al-Qaida from
overtaking Iraq and using its oil revenue to attack the United States.
[AP, March 19, 2008]
President Bush says he has no doubts about launching the unpopular war in Iraq
despite the "high cost in lives and treasure,"
arguing that retreat now would embolden Iran
and provide al-Qaida with money for weapons of mass destruction to attack the
Bush is to mark the fifth
anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of
Iraq on Wednesday with a speech
at the Pentagon. Excerpts of his address were released Tuesday night by the
At least 3,990 [actually well
over 4,000] members of the
U.S. military have died since
the beginning of the war in 2003. It has cost taxpayers about $500 billion and
estimates of the final tab run far higher.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E.
Stiglizt and Harvard University public finance expert Linda Bilmes have
estimated the eventual cost at $3 trillion when all the expenses, including
long-term care for veterans, are calculated.
Democrats offered a different
view from Bush's.
"On this grim milestone, it is
worth remembering how we got into this situation, and thinking about how best
we can get out," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "The tasks that remain in
Iraq — to bring an end to sectarian conflict, to devise a way to share
political power, and to create a functioning government that is capable of
providing for the needs of the Iraqi people are tasks that only the Iraqis can
In his remarks, Bush repeated his oft-stated
determination to prosecute the war into the unforeseen future.
"The successes we are seeing in Iraq are
undeniable, yet some in Washington still call for retreat," the president
said. "War critics can no longer credibly argue that we are losing in Iraq, so
now they argue the war costs too much. In recent months, we have heard
exaggerated estimates of the costs of this war.
"No one would argue that this war has not
come at a high cost in lives and treasure, but those costs are necessary when
we consider the cost of a strategic victory for our enemies in Iraq," Bush
Bush has successfully defied
efforts by the Democratic-led Congress to force troop withdrawals or set
deadlines for pullouts. It is widely believed he will endorse a recommendation
from Gen. David Petraeus, the top
U.S. commander in Iraq, for no
additional troop reductions, beyond those already planned, until at least
The U.S. now has about 158,000 troops in
Iraq. That number is expected to drop to 140,000 by summer in drawdowns meant
to erase all but about 8,000 troops from last year's buildup.
"If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the
violence that is now declining would accelerate and Iraq could descend into
chaos," Bush said. "Al-Qaida would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish
new ones fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq's
borders, with serious consequences to the world economy.
"Out of such chaos in Iraq,
the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened with new recruits ... new
resources ... and an even greater determination to dominate the region and
harm America," Bush said in his remarks. "An emboldened al-Qaida with access
to Iraq's oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass
destruction to attack America and other free nations. Iran could be emboldened
as well with a renewed determination to develop nuclear weapons and impose its
brand of hegemony across the broader Middle East. And our enemies would see an
American failure in Iraq as evidence of weakness and lack of resolve."
Looking back, Bush said, "Five
years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war
was worth fighting ... whether the fight is worth winning ... and whether we
can win it. The answers are clear to me: Removing Saddam Hussein from power
was the right decision and this is a fight
can and must win."
Bush said the past five years
have brought "moments of triumph and moments of tragedy," from free elections
in Iraq to acts of
brutality and violence.
"The terrorists who murder the
innocent in the streets of
Baghdad want to murder the
innocent in the streets of American cities. Defeating this enemy in Iraq will
make it less likely we will face this enemy here at home," Bush said.
Bush said anew that the war was
faltering a little more than a year ago, prompting him in January 2007 to
order a big troop buildup known as the "surge."
"The surge has done more than
turn the situation in
Iraq around; it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the
broader war on terror," he said.
Iraq, we are witnessing the
first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology,
and his terror network. And the significance of this development cannot be
overstated ," the president said.
"The challenge in the period ahead is to
consolidate the gains we have made and seal the extremists' defeat. We have
learned through hard experience what happens when we pull our forces back too
fast — the terrorists and extremists step in, fill the vacuum, establish safe
havens and use them to spread chaos and carnage."