At a press conference in Washington D.C., President George W. Bush said that helping the Iraqi people establish security and stability is a vital task. A premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq would, he said, "be dangerous for Iraq, for the region, and for the United States":
"It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaida. It would mean that we'd be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we'd allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous."
The fight in Iraq is part of a broader struggle unfolding across the region, said Mr. Bush:
"The same regime in Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the map is also providing sophisticated I-E-D's [improvised explosive devices] to extremists in Iraq who are using them to kill American soldiers."
Mr. Bush mentioned other radical groups who would benefit if America left before Iraq was secure:
"The same Hezbollah terrorists who are waging war against the forces of democracy in Lebanon are training extremists to do the same against coalition forces in Iraq. The same Syrian regime that provides support and sanctuary for [the Palestinian terrorist groups] Islamic Jihad and Hamas has refused to close its airport in Damascus to suicide bombers headed to Iraq. All these extremist groups would be emboldened by a precipitous American withdrawal, which would confuse and frighten friends and allies in the region."
President Bush says the United States will continue to work with the Iraqis to "achieve a government that is able to provide security for its people. . . .and, as importantly, serve as an ally against radicals and extremists."