Saturday, August 25, 2007


Remarks by President George W. Bush at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention at the Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 22, 2007.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. It’s good to be with you again.

(This a pretty long speech, but so is the Iraq War.)

I understand you haven’t had much of a problem attracting speakers.

(I consider myself an attractive speaker.) (Laughter.)

I thank you for inviting me. I can understand why people want to come here. See, it’s an honor to stand with the men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

(I might have been a veteran, too, if Daddy hadn’t got me into the National Guard.) (Applause.)

I stand before you as a wartime President. I wish I didn’t have to say that, but an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th, 2001 (Not Iraq), declared war on the United States of America. And war is what we’re engaged in. (And that engagement has become a terrible and tragic


The struggle has been called a clash of civilizations. In truth, it’s a struggle for civilization.

(Our struggle is very different from Mein Kampf .)

We fight for the possibility that decent men and women across the broader Middle East can realize their destiny -- and raise up societies (Not chickens) based on freedom and justice and personal dignity.

And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief we will fight to win.

(Because I’m the world’s Decider.)


For those of you who wear the uniform, nothing makes me more proud to say that I am your Commander-in-Chief.

(And Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.)

Thank you for volunteering in the service of the United States of America.


Now, I know some people doubt the universal appeal of liberty, or worry that the Middle East isn’t ready for it.

(Just as Iraq wasn’t ready for my Shock & Awe bombing.)

Others believe that America’s presence is destabilizing and that if the United States would just leave a place like Iraq those who kill our troops or target civilians would no longer threaten us.

(And that’s accurate, because if we were out of Iraq, we could be here at home in the U.S. to protect ourselves.)

I want to thank Bob Wallace, the Executive Director. He spends a lot of time in the Oval Office -- I’m always checking the silverware drawer.

(When I’m not checking for those WMD.)

There are many differences between the wars we fought in the Far East and the war on terror we’re fighting today.

(My war in Iraq was a mistaken war of choice.)

But one important similarity is at their core they’re ideological struggles. The militarists of Japan and the communists in Korea and Vietnam were driven by a merciless vision for the proper ordering of humanity. They killed Americans because we stood in the way of their attempt to force their ideology on others.

(Whereas in Iraq the Iraqis are fighting each other for power, but also us because they do not want our occupation or ideology. Syria, Iran and Al-Queda are taking advantage of this civil war.)

Today, the names and places have changed, but the fundamental character of the struggle has not changed. Like our enemies in the past, the terrorists who wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places seek to spread a political vision of their own -- a harsh plan for life that crushes freedom, tolerance, and dissent.

(And that will stop the flow of oil that our vehicles require.)

Like our enemies in the past, they kill Americans because we stand in their way of imposing this ideology across a vital region of the world. This enemy is dangerous; this enemy is determined; and this enemy will be defeated.

(Millions of Iraqis have already left Iraq because we stand in the way of this dangerous enemy.)


We’re still in the early hours of the current ideological struggle (Although this ideological struggle has now lasted longer than World War II.), but we do know how the others ended -- and that knowledge helps guide our efforts today. The ideals and interests that led America to help the Japanese turn defeat into democracy are the same that lead us to remain engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Our ideal goal is to maintain our interests in this region for its oil, and to act as a defensive buffer against Iran and Syria who want to destroy Israel and America.)

At the outset of World War II there were only two democracies in the Far East -- Australia and New Zealand. Today most of the nations in Asia are free, and its democracies reflect the diversity of the region. Some of these nations have constitutional monarchies, some have parliaments, and some have presidents. Some are Christian, some are Muslim, some are Hindu, and some are Buddhist. Yet for all the differences, the free nations of Asia all share one thing in common: Their governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed (But I am the Decider, and I don’t pay attention to the governed for my war.)

You know, the experts sometimes get it wrong.

(My own experts got it wrong about Iraq.)

Finally, there’s Vietnam. This is a complex and painful subject for many Americans.

(And we must get over our Vietnam Complex.)

The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech.

(But compared to the tragedy of Iraq it is tiny.)

So I’m going to limit myself to one argument that has particular significance today. Then as now, people argued the real problem was America’s presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end.

(If the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, the sects would kill each other (and Al-Qaeda), and not U.S. soldiers.)

The argument that America’s presence in Indochina was dangerous had a long pedigree.

(Barney has a long pedigree.)

Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left.

(Answers to this debate: 1. Gulf of Tonkin

2. Helicopters)

Iraq is one of several fronts in the war on terror-- but it’s the central front -- it’s the central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again.

(Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 attackers were Saudis. So I bombed Iraq. I made Iraq the central front. Make sense?)

And it’s the central front for the United States and to withdraw without getting the job done would be devastating. (Applause.)

(Getting the job done…getting the job done…getting the job done. What is the job? What will be the conclusion of getting the job done?)

If we were to abandon the Iraqi people, the terrorists would be emboldened, and use their victory to gain new recruits.

(Iraqis don’t have much water or electricity, but we cannot abandon their oil.)

As we saw on September the 11th, a terrorist safe haven on the other side of the world can bring death and destruction to the streets of our own cities.

(That safe haven was---and is---Afghanistan. We have most of our troops in Iraq.

Make sense?)

Unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home.

(Like Lassie.)

And that is why, for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America.

(They might come to United States anyway, but we must have a reason to remain in Iraq to secure the oil.)


In Iraq, our moral obligations and our strategic interests are one.


So we pursue the extremists wherever we find them and we stand with the Iraqis at this difficult hour -- because the shadow of terror will never be lifted from our world and the American people will never be safe until the people of the Middle East know the freedom that our Creator meant for all.

(Were the people of Iraq safe and free from the shadow of terror under Saddam Hussein?)


I recognize that history cannot predict the future with absolute certainty.

(Most of us won’t be around for that history anyway.)

I understand that.

In a world where the terrorists are willing to act on their twisted beliefs with sickening acts of barbarism, we must put faith in the timeless truths about human nature that have made us free.

(Since US forces rolled into central Baghdad a week ago, one of the sole public buildings untouched by looters has been Iraq's massive oil ministry, which is under round-the-clock surveillance by troops.

The imposing building in the Al-Mustarisiya quarter is guarded by around 50 US tanks which block every entrance, while sharpshooters are positioned on the roof and in the windows.

Amnesty International has criticized the attention on controlling oilfields, which it said must have taken "much planning and resources."

"However, there is scarce evidence of similar levels of planning and allocation of resources for securing public and other institutions essential for the SURVIVAL AND WELL-BEING OF THE POPULATION," the London-based rights group said.)

Across the Middle East, millions of ordinary citizens are tired of war, they’re tired of dictatorship and corruption, they’re tired of despair.

(Iraq is a prime example. The people there were tired of a dictator, and now they’re tired and in despair from a corrupt war.)

They want societies where they’re treated with dignity and respect, where their children have the hope for a better life.

(Where they have adequate food, water and electricity.)

Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him.

And it’s not up to politicians in Washington, D.C. to say whether he will remain in his position

(I do that. I’m the Decider!)

that is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy

(with very little water and electricity) and not a dictatorship.


Thank you, and God bless.


I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building.

George W. Bush

Oct. 11, 2000

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999. It was on his mind. Bush said, ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.’

Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow.

Micky Herskowitz

Take, for instance, Bremer's first casualties. The soldiers and workers he laid off without pensions or severance pay didn't all disappear quietly. Many of them went straight into the mujahedeen, forming the backbone of the armed resistance. “Half a million people are now worse off, and there you have the water tap that keeps the insurgency going. It's alternative employment,” says Hussain Kubba, head of the prominent Iraqi business group Kubba Consulting. Some of Bremer's other economic casualties also have failed to go quietly. It turns out that many of the businessmen whose companies are threatened by Bremer's investment laws have decided to make investments of their own—in the resistance. It is partly their money that keeps fighters in Kalashnikovs and RPGs.

With unemployment as high as 67 percent, the imported products and foreign workers flooding across the borders have become a source of tremendous resentment in Iraq and yet another open tap fueling the insurgency.

[From Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia]

BY Naomi Klein

Harpers Magazine

September 2004

Secret U.S. carpet bombing of Cambodia destroyed that country, enabling Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come to power. Nixon, too, had warned of a bloodbath in Vietnam to justify continuing his war.

Contrary to the picture Bush painted, Vietnam is a unified, stable country that doesn't threaten the region; it has become a trading partner of the United States.

Marjorie Cohn
Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild


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