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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ / THE U.S. PLAN, A LOOK AT IMPACT
ON ELECTORATE, BUSH'S REMARKS

Excerpts from Bush's remarks

October 26, 2006

Opening statement

Americans have no intention of taking sides in a sectarian struggle or standing in the crossfire between rival factions. Our mission is to help the elected government in Iraq defeat common enemies, to bring peace and stability to Iraq and make our nation more secure. Our goals are unchanging. We are flexible in our methods to achieving those goals....

A military solution alone will not stop violence. In the end, the Iraqi people and their government will have to make the difficult decisions necessary to solve these problems. So, in addition to refining our military tactics to defeat the enemy, we're also working to help the Iraqi government achieve a political solution that brings together Shia and Sunni and Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups.

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Responses to questions

This is a war against extremists and radicals who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives. It has a multiple of fronts. Afghanistan was a front in this war against the terrorists. Iraq is now the central front in the war against the terrorists....

The ultimate victory in Iraq, which is a government that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself, depends upon the Iraqi citizens and the Iraqi government doing the hard work necessary to protect their country. And our job is to help them achieve that objective.

As a matter of fact, my view is: The only way we lose in Iraq is if we leave before the job is done....

Absolutely, we're winning. Al Qaeda [is] on the run. As a matter of fact, the mastermind, or the people who they think is the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks, is in our custody. We've now got a procedure for this person to go on trial, to be held for his account. Most of Al Qaeda that planned the attacks on September the 11th have been brought to justice. Extremists have now played their hand. The world can clearly see their ambitions....

I will send more troops to Iraq if [Gen. George W. Casey Jr.] says, I need more troops in Iraq to achieve victory. And that's the way I've been running this war. I have great faith in Gen. Casey. I have great faith in Ambassador [Zalmay] Khalilzad. I trust our commanders on the ground to give the best advice about how to achieve victory....

You know, last spring, I thought for a period of time we'd be able to reduce our troop presence early next year. That's what I felt. But because we didn't have a fixed timetable and because Gen. Casey and Gen. [John P.] Abizaid and the other generals there understand that the way we're running this war is to give them flexibility, have the confidence necessary to come and make the recommendations here in Washington, D.C., they decided that that wasn't going to happen.

Our job is to prevent the full -- full-scale civil war from happening in the first place. It's one of the missions, is to work with the [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki government to make sure that there is a political way forward.... That's the whole objective: to help this government be able to defend itself and sustain itself, so that the 12 million people that voted -- they didn't vote for civil war. They voted to live under a constitution that was passed....

I think the coming election is a referendum on these two things: Which party has got the plan that will enable our economy to continue to grow and which party has a plan to protect the American people. And Iraq is part of the security of the United States. If we succeed and when we succeed in Iraq, our country will be more secure....

I believe Iraq will be able to defend, govern and sustain itself. Otherwise, I'd pull our troops out.... The parents of our troops must understand that if I didn't believe we could succeed and didn't believe it was necessary for the security of this country to succeed, I wouldn't have your loved ones there.

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These excerpts were transcribed by CQ Transcriptions.

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