In a speech to U.S. soldiers, President George W. Bush said that the United States would not withdraw prematurely from Iraq. Setting an arbitrary date for leaving Iraq "would be a terrible mistake," said Mr. Bush:
"At a moment when the terrorists have suffered a series of significant blows, setting an artificial timetable would breathe new life into their cause. Setting an artificial timetable would undermine the new Iraqi government and send a signal to Iraq's enemies that if they wait just a little bit longer, America will just give up."
Prevailing in Iraq "is going to require more tough fighting; it's going to require more sacrifice," said Mr. Bush. But "when the job in Iraq is done," he said, "it will be a major victory in the battle against the terrorists":
"By achieving victory in Iraq, we will help Iraqis build a free nation in the heart of a troubled region, and inspire those who desire liberty – those democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran."
Mr. Bush said that victory in Iraq will not, in itself, end the war on terror:
"We're engaged in a global struggle against the followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom and crushes all dissent, and has territorial ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims."
In the long run, said President Bush, this enemy will be defeated by spreading "the hope of freedom across the world. . . .By standing with those who desire liberty, we will help extend freedom to millions who have not known it, and lay the foundations of peace for generations to come."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.