You are herecontent / Firm as a Mule
Firm as a Mule
Bush Firm on Iraq Policy as Antiwar Forces Plan Protest
By Maria Newman
The New York Times
Friday 23 September 2005
President Bush said today that even though Hurricanes Rita and Katrina had dominated national attention and resources in the last few weeks, "our focus on defending our country remains undiminished" and that he had no intention of heeding critics' calls to withdraw American troops from Iraq anytime soon.
With opponents of the war in Iraq planning a major protest in Washington this weekend, the president acknowledged that there were differences of opinion about Iraq and that he knew that many people believed the only way to curtail the violence in Iraq was to bring home American forces.
"I recognize their good intentions, but their position is wrong," the president said. "Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous."
The antiwar rally, scheduled for Saturday, will feature Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq and who gained wide notice this summer when she set up camp outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., while he vacationed there. Ms. Sheehan has been among the most vocal in calling for Mr. Bush to withdraw American troops from Iraq immediately.
Mr. Bush said that "to leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001."
Mr. Bush spoke at the Pentagon after a video-conference briefing on the global war on terrorism by Gen. George Casey of the Army, the top commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid of the Army, the commander of United States Central Command. Vice President Dick Cheney joined the president.
The president asserted at a news conference afterward that terrorists had studied the American responses to the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter administration, the bombing of United States Marines' barracks in Lebanon during the Reagan administration and the first terror attack on the World Trade Center during the Clinton administration, among other events.
"The terrorists concluded that we lacked the courage and character to defend ourselves, and so they attacked us," the president said. "The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission."
"For the safety and security of the American people, that's not going to happen on my watch," he said.
He also said that the level of violence in Iraq would probably increase in the coming months.
"Today, our commanders made it clear: As Iraqis prepare to vote on their constitution in October and elect a permanent government in December, we must be prepared for more violence," he said.
He also criticized Syria for not cooperating more with efforts to seal the Syrian-Iraqi border from insurgents. "Their response has not been very satisfactory to date," he said.