In an impassioned plea to the nation President George W. Bush said Americans must stand firm in support of the war in Iraq because it is a critical battleground in the struggle against terrorists trying to create a “radical Islamic empire.”
“Wars are not won without sacrifice, and this war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve,” Bush said today in a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, a taxpayer-funded group in Washington. “We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.”
The terrorists who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, and carried out strikes in the U.K., Egypt, Spain and elsewhere regard Iraq as "the central front in their war against humanity," and the U.S. must do so as well, the president said. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, at least 10 al-Qaeda plots have been disrupted, including three inside the U.S., he said.
Bush is turning to the subject of terrorism as his political standing is sliding in part because of public disapproval of the Iraq conflict. While terrorism has been the issue on which Bush received his strongest support from voters, recent national polls, including one conducted by Zogby International Sept. 29-Oct. 2, show public approval on his handling of the issue slipping to 49 percent. That is down from as much as 90 percent approval in the weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, reports Bloomberg.
"Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism," Bush said in his remarks to the National Endowment for Democracy, a nongovernmental advocacy group in Washington. "Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam."
Bush described what he saw as the depth of the terrorist threat on a day when New Yorkers were alerted to an unspecified threat to the subway system.
The speech, billed as a major policy address, came at the end of a weeklong effort by his administration to shore up popular support for the central tenets of his foreign policy. Bush's approval rating has fallen to new lows in recent polls, and support for the Iraq war has declined.
The remarks also suggested a renewed effort by the administration to regain favor in the wake of criticism over the administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and was intended in part as a response to the anti-war movement, coming just weeks after a big demonstration in Washington and a month-long protest outside his vacation home in Texas brought new visibility to the war's opponents.
Bush, in his remarks, appeared to counter recent statements by military commanders in Iraq, including two generals who told lawmakers last week the presence of U.S. troops was fueling the insurgency in Iraq and energizing terrorists across the Middle East.
Pulling out of Iraq, Bush said, would not cause the anger of terrorists to subside.
"We were not in Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001, and al-Qaida attacked us anyway," Bush said. "The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse," informs LA Times.