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For Immediate Release
August 5, 2004

President Bush Discusses Iraq

Excerpt from August 5, 2004 speech. Click here for the whole speech

Another lesson of September the 11th, I said if we see a threat, we must deal with it before it fully materializes. We saw a threat in Iraq. And let me tell you why; not only the intelligence say there was a threat there, but we remembered the history of the man. He was a sworn enemy of America. Terrorists were able to -- and terrorist networks were able to operate in and out of his country. Remember Abu Nidal? He was the guy that killed the man, an American citizen, because he was Jewish. His network was there inside of Iraq. Zarqawi, who's still is running around in Iraq, his network was in Iraq. He is a -- Saddam was a fellow who paid the families of suicide bombers. That's one of the -- suiciding to kill innocent people as an act of terror. He paid the families as an incentive to do so. He had used weapons of mass destruction. Remember that? He had used them on his own people. He had used them against countries in his neighborhood. He was a source of instability. He was a threat, and we saw him as a threat.

Now, the United States Congress looked at the same intelligence I looked at, the exact same intelligence, and came to the same conclusion. Members of both political parties looked at the intelligence. My opponent looked at the very same intelligence and came to the same conclusion. (Applause.) The United Nations -- remember I went to the U.N., and said, you have forever condemned him. You've told him to get rid of his weapons, yet nothing has happened, so let's try her one more time. And the United Nations looked at the intelligence, saw a threat, and passed a resolution, 15 to nothing. That was what the Security Council said. They said, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences.

And so, the world spoke, and again, he defied us. And not only did he defy us, he systematically deceived the inspectors. You remember the period of time, we said, well, let's give the inspectors the chance to work. We agreed, until we found out he was deceiving them. What he was trying to do was buy time. Why? Because he wanted to reconstitute a weapons program. He wanted to make sure he had the capacity to make weapons. And if he had any, like we thought he did, he didn't want anybody to find them. That's why. I had a choice to make then. Forget the lessons of September the 11th, trust a madman, or take action to defend our country. Every time, I will defend America. (Applause.)

We are safer -- we are safer and the world is better off because Saddam is sitting in a prison cell. I want to share something with you. Committing troops into harm's way is -- in harm's way is the most difficult decision a President can make. That decision must always be last resort. That decision must be done when our vital interests are at stake, but after we've tried everything else. There must be a compelling national need to put our troops into harm's way. I felt that. I felt we had a compelling national need. I know we had tried diplomacy. I knew that diplomacy at this point couldn't possibly work because he had no intention of listening to demands of the free world. And when you put your troops in harm's way, you better have the best -- the best equipment, the best support, and the best possible pay. (Applause.)

That's why I went to the Congress and said -- last September -- said, we need more money for our troops, $87 billion more money. Some of it was for reconstruction, most of it was for the troops, over $60 billion for the troops -- Humvees, spare parts, body armor, the things necessary that you would want. If you are a mom or dad -- we probably got a mom or dad here whose child is in Iraq -- you want your son or daughter to have the best. Thank you, appreciate you.

There were two senators -- there were 12 senators who voted against more funding for the troops, two of whom are my opponent and his running mate. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: I don't know if you heard the explanation. He said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) That's not the way most folks speak in Ohio. (Applause.) As the Commander-in-Chief, I'll see to it our troops have the best -- the best possible pay, the best possible training, the best possible equipment to defend the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you all. By the way, I know we've got some veterans here. Thanks for setting such a good example for those who wear our uniform today. (Applause.) I appreciate your service.

The world is changing. This is an historic times. Freedom equals peace. Listen, we've done the hard work, and there's more hard work to do. But I want you to know that we're headed for a peaceful world. That's my hope. My hope is that young children can grow up in a peaceful world. My hope is that we never have to live another day like we did on September the 11th. (Applause.)

And you achieve peace by spreading freedom. That's what America believes. (Applause.) And that's hard work. Free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations, nations that listen to the aspirations of their people, are nations in which it's hard to recruit people willing to kill themselves for a radical philosophy. That's what Americans believe. We believe that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. (Applause.)

And therefore, our strategy for peace is to do everything we can to protect the homeland, by being on the offense against an enemy. But it's also to spread liberty. These are historic times. That's why it's vital we stand with those who love freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, it's not easy to be a free society in a place like Iraq -- it's just not. You can understand why: these people were brutalized. There were mass graves of thousands of -- of a thousand citizens.

I'll tell you an interesting story, and it's one that touched my heart. Seven people came to the Oval Office, seven Iraqi men. Walking in that Oval Office, by the way, is a pretty interesting experience -- the kind of place people say outside and say, when I get in I'm going to tell him what-for. And they walk in, they get overwhelmed by the Oval Office, say, many, you're looking good, Mr. President. (Laughter.)

These people came in and they said, liberator. I said, you don't need to thank me, you need to thank the American people. You need to thank the mothers and fathers of those, and the husbands and wives of those who served to free you. (Applause.) They had something in common besides being Iraqi men -- all of them had their right hands cut off by Saddam Hussein. That's the society that we've liberated. You know why? Because his currency had devalued and he needed a scapegoat. So he found seven small businessmen. For example, one of them was a jeweler and he told me, he said, I sold dinars to buy -- I think he said euros -- to buy gold so I could make a watch. And so what they were looking for, the authority, Saddam and his thugs were looking for people who sold dinars that caused the currency to be devalued at that particular moment. They put them in prison, and he cut off their right hands and burned an X in their forehead. So in come seven guys who have got an X in their forehead. The good news is that they had been discovered by an American named Marvin Zindler, from Houston, and he had a foundation to help people from around the world. They flew them into Houston. These seven guys had new hands, new prosthesis. (Applause.)

A guy took my Sharpee, wrapped his new fingers and wrote, "God bless America," in Arabic. (Applause.) What a contrast, what a contrast in societies -- on the one hand, a society that was so brutalized by a dictator that he could just say, I'm going to cut off their hands; to a society which says, we want to heal you, no matter who you are, no matter your religion, no matter where you're from. We believe in human dignity and human rights in the United States of America. (Applause.)

There's good people now running those countries: Karzai and Allawi. Allawi, I'm told, woke up one night in London to a axe-wielding group of men that had been sent by Saddam Hussein to kill him with an axe. He got away from the axe-wielding thugs severely wounded. In other words, this guy has seen the worst of tyranny, and now he's leading the country. He believes in a free Iraq. He believes in a self-governing Iraq. He believes in listening to the aspirations of the people. And he's plenty tough to do the job.

And so we've got to stand with these people, see, because, you know what, a free world -- a free Iraq in a part of the world that's desperate for freedom is an historic opportunity. Maybe I can put it to you best this way: You know, my dad, I'm sure some of your dads, fought in World War II against Japan. And right after World War II there was a movement to rebuild Japan, so it would be a self-governing nation. Some doubted whether that was possible. Some people in our country, they said, why are you wasting your time; why worry about a self-governing Japan? Fortunately, there were some optimists, some people who believed in the power of liberty to change societies and lives who stood the line, and finally succeeded. We succeeded in helping Japan self-govern.

So I'm having Kobe beef one night with Prime Minister Koizumi. He's the Prime Minister of Japan and a good friend of mine. We're talking about how to keep the peace. We're talking about how to deal with Mr. Kim Jong-il of North Korea -- people are starving, by the way, and who wants to try to blackmail the free world with a nuclear weapon. And here we are talking about peace. That's what we're talking about. See, free societies are peaceful societies. Someday, an American President will talking to a duly-elected leader of Iraq, talking about the peace, and America will be better for it. (Applause.)

And the people of Iraq are watching carefully right now. Are we going to be a country of our word? When we say we believe people should be free, are we willing to stand by our word? Or are we going to go timid and weary and afraid of the barbaric behavior of a few? I want to be your President for four more years because I believe that freedom can change the world and the world will be more peaceful.

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