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Battling Extremism In Iraq

Georgia's Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and presidential candidate Georgy Margvelashvili celebrate after Sunday's election, Tbilisi, Oct. 27, 2013.

President George W. Bush says that United States’ involvement in Iraq is aimed at helping it become able to govern itself and serve as an ally against extremists. Successes against the al-Qadea terrorist group in Iraq’s Anbar province, says Mr. Bush, have helped to make the United States safer:

“I would remind you that the people that have [sworn] allegiance to Osama bin Laden in Iraq wanted Anbar province as a safe haven from which to launch further attacks on the United States. And one of the great successes of this conflict has not only been to liberate twenty-five million people from the clutches of a brutal tyrant, but to make sure that Anbar province wasn't a safe haven for those who swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden.”

Ultimately, says President Bush, the best way to defeat such extremists is with “a better ideology,” one based on liberty:

“If you believe in the universality of liberty, then it shouldn't surprise you when twelve million people in Iraq went to the polls. They said, we've been given a chance to express our individual desires. And they went to the polls to vote.”

Today’s ideological struggle, says Mr. Bush, is just as intense as the last century’s struggle against fascism and communism:

“When my dad was eighteen, he signed up to fight the Japanese; they were the sworn enemy of the United States of America. Thousands of people died in that conflict. They attacked America -- the last time we were attacked, by the way, prior to September the 11th, was Pearl Harbor. And sixty years later, I'm sitting at the table with the Prime Minister of Japan talking about peace; talking about how to help young democracies thrive in this ideological struggle, both of us knowing full well that the ultimate defeat of extremism in the name of an ideology that is dark, is freedom -- is the light of freedom. And the amazing thing is, is that what happened was that Japan's form of government changed.”

“Liberty is transformative,” says President Bush. “Our one-time enemy is at the table talking about peace,” he says. “And the same thing is going to happen in the Middle East.”