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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 18, 2006

Fact Sheet: Operation Iraqi Freedom: Three Years Later

"These past three years have tested our resolve. We've seen hard days and setbacks. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the terrorists made Iraq the central front in the war on terror, in an attempt to turn that country into a safe haven where they can plan more attacks against America. ... More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong. Yet there is no peace, there's no honor, and there's no security in retreat. So America will not abandon Iraq to the terrorists who want to attack us again. We will finish the mission. By defeating the terrorists in Iraq, we will bring greater security to our own country. And when victory is achieved, our troops will return home with the honor they have earned."

- President George W. Bush
President's Radio Address

Remarkable Progress Has Been Made In Iraq In The Last Three Years

On March 19, 2003, United States And Coalition Forces Launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. Life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was marked by brutality, fear, and terror. Iraqis had no voice in their country or their lives. Saddam Hussein devastated Iraq, wrecked its economy, ruined and plundered its infrastructure, and destroyed its human capital.

Three Years Later, Iraq Has A Democratically Elected Government. The reign of a dictator has been replaced by a democratically elected government operating under one of the most progressive constitutions in the Arab world. Millions of Iraqis have joined the political process over the past year alone. The transition from three decades of dictatorship to a fully functioning democracy is still difficult, and Iraq must overcome many more challenges before it fully secures its democratic gains.

The Next Year Will Bring A Consolidation Of These Gains, Helping A New Iraqi Government Stabilize The Nation And Build A Solid Foundation For Democracy And Increased Economic Growth. Iraq's elected leaders are diligently working to form a government that will represent all the Iraqi people. As the Iraqi government comes together and Iraqi Security Forces continue improving their readiness, efforts to stabilize the nation will increasingly be Iraqi-led. We will support the Iraqi government in these difficult times, and we will keep our commitment to the Iraqi people.

Securing A Lasting Victory In Iraq Will Make America:

Despite Progress, The Situation On The Ground Remains Tense. As al Qaida's actions and statements show, terrorists reject democracy, reject peace, and want to impose their own concept of a dictatorial government on the Iraqi people. The United States and its Coalition partners are united in support of the Iraqi people and helping them win their struggle for freedom. The terrorists know they lack the military strength to challenge Iraqi and Coalition forces directly - so their only hope is to try and provoke a civil war. Immediately after the attack on the Golden Mosque of Samarra, the Iraqi people looked into the abyss and did not like what they saw. Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace - and they will oppose a violent minority that seeks to take that future away from them by tearing their country apart.

The President's National Strategy For Victory In Iraq Has Three Tracks - Political, Security, And Economic. All three tracks are progressing. Access the National Strategy for Victory at: /infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html.

The Political Track: Iraq Has Transitioned From Tyranny And Oppression To Freedom And Democracy

Three Years Ago, Iraqis Had No Voice In Their Government Or Their Nation's Future. Simple acts like voicing concerns about bad policies or organizing a meeting were denied. Citizens feared arbitrary arrest, torture, and imprisonment. Thousands of innocent Iraqis ended up in mass graves.

Today, Millions Of Iraqis Are Shaping Their Own Destinies By Participating In Iraq's Political Process:

The Security Track: Iraqi Security Forces Are Increasingly Taking The Lead To Protect Their Nation

Three Years Ago, Saddam Hussein And The Ba'ath Party Were Preserving The Regime's Tyrannical Rule. Under Saddam Hussein's rule, the Iraqi army was used as an instrument of repression against Iraq's own citizens and against Iraq's neighbors.

Today, An All-Volunteer Iraqi Security Force Is Taking Increasing Responsibility For Protecting Their New Nation And The Iraqi People:

The Terrorists Are Turning To Weapons Of Fear Because They Know They Cannot Defeat Us Militarily. After the terrorists were defeated in the battles in Fallujah and Tal Afar, they saw they could not confront Iraqi or American forces in pitched battle and survive. So they turned to IEDs - a weapon that allows them to attack from a safe distance, without having to face our forces in battle. Innocent Iraqis are the principal victims of IEDs. Our strategy to defeat IEDs has three elements: targeting and eliminating terrorists and bomb-makers; providing our forces specialized training to identify and clear IEDs before they explode; and developing new technologies to defend against IEDs.

The Economic Track: Iraq's Economy, Infrastructure, And Quality Of Life Is Improving

Three Years Ago, Saddam Hussein And His Regime Led A Life Of Privilege And Luxury, While Leaving The Iraqi People Without Infrastructure To Provide Essential Services. Those out of favor were denied the simplest public services, with hunger and essential services used as weapons of tyranny. As a result, parts of Iraq suffered a severe lack of electricity, water, health care, education facilities, and other vital services. While challenges remain, and while it will take years to modernize Iraq's economy and infrastructure in the wake of Saddam Hussein's decades of neglect, significant progress has been made over the past three years.

Today, Iraq's Economy Is Recovering, And The Iraqi People Have Better Access To Essential Services:

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