Bush Says Life Improving for People in Afghanistan, Iraq

 

Tuesday  July 1, 2003
(President sees continued action by terrorists in both countries) (2150)

President Bush said July 1 that despite ongoing difficulties in
Afghanistan and Iraq, people in both those countries are better off
now than before the U.S. military involvement.

Speaking at a White House ceremony on the 30th anniversary of the
creation of an all-volunteer U.S. military force, Bush said "the
people of Afghanistan are moving forward with the reconstruction of
their country and the founding of a democratic government. They have
selected a president. They're building a national army. And they are
now in the final stages of drafting a new constitution.

"America and other countries continue to provide humanitarian aid and
assistance in building clinics and schools and roads. Joined by other
nations, we are deploying the first group of provincial reconstruction
teams to various cities in Afghanistan, groups of experts who are
working with local officials to improve public safety, promote
reconstruction, and solidify the authority of elected governments.

"Afghanistan still has many challenges, but that country is making
progress, and its people are a world away from the nightmare they
endured under the Taliban," Bush said.

The war on terror also continues in Iraq, Bush said, "where coalition
forces are engaging remnants of the former regime, as well as members
of terrorist groups."

"But there will be no return to tyranny in Iraq. And those who
threaten the order and stability of that country will face ruin, just
as surely as the regime they once served," Bush said.

"The rise of Iraq as an example of moderation and democracy and
prosperity, Bush said, "is a massive and long-term undertaking. And
the restoration of that country is critical to the defeat of terror
and radicalism throughout the Middle East."

Bush said coalition forces are helping in the reconstruction of Iraq
by restoring basic services, maintaining order, searching for the
hidden weapons, and helping Iraqis to establish a representative
government.

"Having liberated Iraq as promised, we will help that country to found
a just and representative government, as promised," Bush said.

Following is a transcript of Bush's remarks:

(begin transcript)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 1, 2003

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT REENLISTMENT OF MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS
The East Room

THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. (Applause.) Welcome. Thank you all
very much. Welcome to the White House. We're joined today by 30 men
and women who have chosen to reenlist in the United States Armed
Forces. Each of them decided years ago to serve and defend our
country. Today they reaffirm their commitment and take the oath again.

Like many thousands of other soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast
Guardsmen and Marines who will re-enlist this year, these men and
women are answering the highest call of citizenship. They have stood
between the American people and the dangers of the world -- and we are
glad they are staying on duty. (Applause.)

I want to thank Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, for
joining us, and members of the defense team. I want to thank Richard
Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Pete Pace, the Vice Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs. I want to thank James Roche, the Secretary of the
Air Force; Les Brownlee, the Acting Secretary of the Army; HT Johnson,
the Acting Secretary of the Navy, for being with us today.

I appreciate Admiral Vernon Clark, the Chief of Naval Operation for
being here; General Michael W. Hagee, the Commandant of the Marine
Corps; General John M. Keane, Acting Chief of Staff for the Army. I
appreciate Terry D. Scott, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, for
being with us today; John L. Estrada, Sergeant Major of the Marine
Corps; Frank A. Welch, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard;
members of the Armed Forces and our fellow Americans.

Before the draft ended on July 1st, 1973, generations of men entered
military service by the decision of others. And during two world wars,
and in Korea, and in Vietnam, they served nobly and they served well.
Yet in the past 30 years, we have seen the great advantages of a
military in which all serve by their own decision. Our country's
all-volunteer force attracts idealistic and committed young Americans.
They stay in service longer because they have chosen the military
life. The result is a military with the highest levels of training,
experience, motivation, and professionalism.

The military life is rewarding. Yet, even at its best, that life is
difficult, often involving separation and danger. Those who willingly
make these sacrifices, and the families who share their hardships,
have the respect and the gratitude of their fellow Americans.

All in our military are serving in one of history's critical hours.
Less than two years ago, determined enemies of America entered our
country, committed acts of murder against our people, and made clear
their intentions to strike again. As long as terrorists and their
allies plot to harm America, America is at war. We did not choose this
war. Yet, with the safety of the American people at stake, we will
continue to wage this war with all our might.

From the beginning, we have known the effort would be long and
difficult, and that our resolve would be tested. We know that
sacrifice is unavoidable. We have seen victories in the decisive
defeat of two terror regimes, and in the relentless pursuit of a
global terror network. Yet the war on terror goes on. We will not be
distracted, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

Of those directly involved in organizing the September the 11th
attacks, almost all are now in custody or confirmed dead. Of the
senior al Qaeda leaders, operational managers, and key facilitators we
have been tracking, 65 percent have been captured or killed.

Still, we recognize that al Qaeda has trained thousands of foot
soldiers in many nations and that new leaders may emerge. And we
suspect that some al Qaeda deserters will attach themselves to other
terrorist groups in order to strike American targets. Terrorists that
remain can be certain of this: We will hunt them by day and by night
in every corner of the world until they are no longer a threat to
America and our friends. (Applause.)

At this moment, American and allied forces continue the work of
fighting terrorists and establishing order in Afghanistan. When we
removed the Taliban from power, surviving al Qaeda members fled from
most of that country. However, many terrorists sought sanctuary along
the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and some are still hiding there.
These al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts have attacked allied bases with
unguided rockets, conducted ambushes, and fired upon border posts. In
close cooperation with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, America
is engaged in operations to find and destroy these terrorists.

Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, it is important for
our fellow citizens to know that Pakistan has apprehended more than
500 terrorists, including hundreds of members of al Qaeda and the
Taliban.

As this fight continues, the people of Afghanistan are moving forward
with the reconstruction of their country and the founding of a
democratic government. They have selected a President. They're
building a national army. And they are now in the final stages of
drafting a new constitution.

America and other countries continue to provide humanitarian aid and
assistance in building clinics and schools and roads. Joined by other
nations, we are deploying the first group of provincial reconstruction
teams to various cities in Afghanistan, groups of experts who are
working with local officials to improve public safety, promote
reconstruction, and solidify the authority of elected governments.

Afghanistan still has many challenges, but that country is making
progress, and its people are a world away from the nightmare they
endured under the Taliban. Pakistan and Afghanistan are among many
governments that understand the threat of terror and are determined to
root it out.

After the terrible attacks in Riyadh on May the 12th, the government
of Saudi Arabia has intensified its longstanding efforts against the
al Qaeda network. Recently Saudi's security services apprehended Abu
Bakr, believed to be a central figure in the Riyadh bombing, and
killed a major al Qaeda operational planner and fundraiser, a man
known in terrorist circles as "Swift Sword."

Saudi authorities have also uncovered terrorist operations in the holy
city of Mecca, demonstrating once again that terrorists hold nothing
sacred and have no home in any religion. America and Saudi Arabia face
a common terrorist threat, and we appreciate the strong, continuing
efforts of the Saudi government in fighting that threat.

The war on terror also continues in Iraq, where coalition forces are
engaging remnants of the former regime, as well as members of
terrorist groups. We met the major combat objectives in Operation
Iraqi Freedom. We ended a regime that possessed weapons of mass
destruction, harbored and supported terrorists, suppressed human
rights, and defied the just demands of the United Nations and the
world.

The true monuments of Saddam Hussein's rule have been brought to light
-- the mass graves, the torture chambers, the jail cells for children.
And now we are moving forward with the reconstruction of that country
by restoring basic services, maintaining order, searching for the
hidden weapons, and helping Iraqis to establish a representative
government.

The rise of Iraq as an example of moderation and democracy and
prosperity is a massive and long-term undertaking. And the restoration
of that country is critical to the defeat of terror and radicalism
throughout the Middle East. With so much in the balance, it comes as
no surprise that freedom has enemies inside of Iraq. The looting and
random violence that began in the immediate aftermath of war remains a
challenge in some areas. A greater challenge comes from former Baath
Party and security officials who will stop at nothing to regain their
power and their privilege.

But there will be no return to tyranny in Iraq. And those who threaten
the order and stability of that country will face ruin, just as surely
as the regime they once served.

Also present in Iraq are terrorist groups seeking to spread chaos and
to attack American and coalition forces. Among these terrorists are
members of Ansar al-Islam, which operated in Iraq before the war and
is now active in the Sunni heartland of the country. We suspect that
the remnants of a group tied to al Qaeda associate al-Zarqawi are
still in Iraq, waiting for an opportunity to strike. We're also
beginning to see foreign fighters enter Iraq.

These scattered groups of terrorists, extremists and Saddam loyalists
are especially active to the north and west of Baghdad, where they
have destroyed electricity lines and towers, set off explosions at gas
pipelines and ignited sulfur fires. They have attacked coalition
forces and they're trying to intimidate Iraqi citizens. These groups
believe they have found an opportunity to harm America, to shake our
resolve in the war on terror, and to cause us to leave Iraq before
freedom is fully established. They are wrong, and they will not
succeed. (Applause.)

Those who try to undermine the reconstruction of Iraq are not only
attacking our coalition, they are attacking the Iraqi people. And we
will stand with the Iraqi people, strongly, as they build a hopeful
future. Having liberated Iraq as promised, we will help that country
to found a just and representative government, as promised. Our goal
is a swift transition to Iraqi control of their own affairs. People of
Iraq will be secure, and the people of Iraq will run their own
country.

At present, 230,000 Americans are serving inside or near Iraq. Our
whole nation, especially their families, recognizes that our people in
uniform face continuing danger. We appreciate their service under
difficult circumstances, and their willingness to fight for American
security and Iraqi freedom. As Commander-in-Chief I assure them, we
will stay on the offensive against the enemy. And all who attack our
troops will be met with direct and decisive force.

As America fights our war against terror, we will continue to depend
on the skill and the courage of our volunteer military. In these last
22 months, our Armed Forces have been tested and tested again. In
every case, in every mission, America's servicemen and women have
brought credit to the uniform, to our flag, and to our country. We
have needed you, and you have never let us down.

I want to thank you for keeping your pledge of duty to America, and
thank you for renewing that demanding pledge today.

And now, General Myers will administer the oath of enlistment in the
Armed Forces of the United States. May God bless you. (Applause.)

(end transcript)

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