Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bush - We Cannot Lose to Al Qaeda In Iraq

President Bush, making a commencement speech before the Coast Guard Academy, made the tie-ins between al Qaeda in Iraq and the al Qaeda of bin Laden and Zawahiri that is the head of transnational terrorism. According to Bush, we cannot afford to lose in Iraq for that will be handing victory to those who seek the downfall of the West and are quite willing to kill us in our homes to achieve it. Here are a portion of the President's remarks:

. . . There is a reason that bin Laden sent one of his most experienced paramilitary leaders to Iraq: He believes that if al Qaeda can drive us out, they can establish Iraq as a new terrorist sanctuary. Our intelligence community believes that, "al Qaeda leaders see victory in Iraq -- the heart of the caliphate and currently the most active front in their war -- as a religious and strategic imperative." If al Qaeda succeeds in Iraq, they would pursue their stated goals of turning that nation into a base from which to overthrow moderate governments in the region, impose their hateful ideology on millions, and launch new attacks on America and other nations. Victory in Iraq is important for Osama bin Laden -- and victory in Iraq is vital for the United States of America. (Applause.)

I've often warned that if we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us home. Many ask: How do you know? Today, I'd like to share some information with you that attests to al Qaeda's intentions. According to our intelligence community, in January 2005, Osama bin Laden tasked the terrorist Zarqawi -- who was then al Qaeda's top leader in Iraq -- with forming a cell to conduct terrorist attacks outside of Iraq. Bin Laden emphasized that America should be Zarqawi's number one priority in terms of foreign attacks. Zarqawi welcomed this direction; he claimed that he had already come up with some good proposals.

To help Zarqawi in these efforts, our intelligence community reports that bin Laden then tasked one of his top terrorist operatives, Hamza Rabia, to send Zarqawi a briefing on al Qaeda's external operations, including information about operations against the American homeland. Our intelligence community reports that a senior al Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, went further and suggested that bin Laden actually send Rabia, himself, to Iraq to help plan external operations. Abu Faraj later speculated that if this effort proved successful, al Qaeda might one day prepare the majority of its external operations from Iraq.

In May of 2005, Abu Faraj was captured and taken into CIA custody. Several months later, in December 2005, Rabia was killed in Pakistan. Several months after that, in June of 2006, the terrorist Zarqawi was killed by American forces in Iraq. Successes like these are blows to al Qaeda. They're a testament to steps we have taken to strengthen our intelligence, work closely with partners overseas, and keep the pressure on the enemy by staying on the offense. (Applause.)

Despite our pressure, despite the setbacks that al Qaeda has suffered, it remains extremely dangerous. As we've surged our forces in Iraq, al Qaeda has responded with a surge of its own. The terrorists' goal in Iraq is to reignite sectarian violence and break support for the war here at home. And they believe they're succeeding. A few weeks ago, al Qaeda's number two, second in command, Zawahiri, issued a video in which he gloated that al Qaeda's "movement of violence" has "forced the Americans to accept a pullout -- about which they only differ in regard to its timing." We can expect al Qaeda to continue its campaign of high profile attacks, including deadly suicide bombings and assassinations. And as they do, our troops will face more fighting and increased risks in the weeks and months ahead.

The fight in Iraq is tough, but my point today to you is the fight is essential to our security -- al Qaeda's leaders inside and outside of Iraq have not given up on their objective of attacking America again. Now, many critics compare the battle in Iraq to the situation we faced in Vietnam. There are many differences between the two conflicts, but one stands out above all: The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland. The enemy in Iraq does. Nine-eleven taught us that to protect the American people, we must fight the terrorists where they live so that we don't have to fight them where we live. (Applause.)

The question for our elected leaders is: Do we comprehend the danger of an al Qaeda victory in Iraq, and will we do what it takes to stop them? However difficult the fight in Iraq has become, we must win it. Al Qaeda is public enemy number one for Iraq's young democracy, and al Qaeda is public enemy number one for America, as well. And that is why we must support our troops, we must support the Iraqi government, and we must defeat al Qaeda in Iraq. . . .
Read President Bush's full remarks here. It was a bit surprising that President Bush made no mention of Iran's acts of war in Iran, nor raised an equally valid argument that we cannot afford to lose in Iraq to Iran. The President making a speech of this nature is but a first step made well past the eleventh hour. If it is not followed up with similar speeches and op-eds in MSM by all moderates and conservatives between now and September, the far left's meme that Iraq is not but a simple civil war at this point will win out simply by weight of repetition spread ad infinitum by a left wing MSM. Moreover, this was a typical speech by Bush, delivered with workmanlike, coldly communicating numerous factual points, but seeming almost dry. President Bush could do with a speechwriter and a speeking coach. I understand one of the best in the world is about to become available. And the good thing is, Bush and Blair already have a close friendship.

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