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January 13, 2008
Bush in Kuwait Praises Troops
President Bush is continuing his 8 day visit to the Middle East with a stop in Kuwait and a speech at Camp Arifjan to thousands of American military personnel:
But I want to tell you what the history will say. The history will say, it was when you were called upon, you served, and the service you rendered was absolutely necessary to defeat an enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) The president received a boisterous welcome from the troops and he highlighted his determination to start drawing down our forces in Iraq as the situation permits:
It will say loud and clear that this military, comprised of brave men and women who sacrificed on behalf of a noble cause called peace -- the men and women of this military understood that we're in an ideological struggle; that we're facing cold-blooded murderers who kill the innocent to achieve their hateful vision of a future.
And they understood, history will show, that those who wore the uniform in the beginning of the 21st century understood a timeless truth that the ideology of -- based upon liberty is necessary for peace; that in this ideological struggle, on the short-term, we will find and bring the enemies to justice, but in the long term, the best way to defeat the ideology of hate is one with an ideology of hope, and that's one with liberty at its fundamental core. (Applause.)
President Bush said Saturday that the United States was on track to bring home at least 20,000 troops from Iraq by summer, but he emphasized that he was willing to halt the drawdown "in order to make sure we succeed." Bush is also on the verge of beginning negotiations with the Iraqi government over a permanent security arrangement. Democrats have been urging Bush not to start such negotiations. They don't want Bush to tie the hands of a Democratic president if such a thing were to come to pass.
After meeting in Kuwait with his top commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, the president presented a mixed picture of the conditions one year after he called for sending additional troops to Iraq. Bush said that extremist militias had been disrupted but remained a concern.
"We cannot take the achievements of 2007 for granted," he said, referring to the reduction in violence toward the end of 2007, after the deadlier months at the start of the year.
With a stop at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, the president was as close to Iraq as he is likely to get on his eight-day trip through the Middle East and Persian Gulf, unless he makes a detour to the war zone. The supply base is about 100 miles from Iraq.
But Bush is determined to push ahead with such an agreement that will guarantee an American presence in Iraq long after most of our combat troops are gone.