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Bush On Iraq War

President George W. Bush marked the fifth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 19th 2003, forces from the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Poland, and other nations engaged the armies of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In less than a month, said President Bush, Saddam Hussein’s repressive rule was ended:

“The men and women who crossed into Iraq five years ago removed a tyrant, liberated a country, and rescued millions from unspeakable horrors. . . They [coalition forces] uncovered children’s prisons, and torture chambers, and rape rooms where Iraqi women were violated in front of their families. They found videos showing regime thugs mutilating Iraqis deemed disloyal to Saddam. And across the Iraqi countryside they uncovered mass graves of thousands executed by the regime.”

The Iraqi regime was removed, said Mr. Bush, “but it did not lay down its arms and surrender”:

“Instead, former regime elements took off their uniforms and faded into the countryside to fight the emergence of a free Iraq. And then they were joined by foreign terrorists who were seeking to stop the advance of liberty in the Middle East and seeking to establish safe havens from which to plot new attacks across the world.”

Over the past five years, said Mr. Bush, the world has seen moments of triumph and tragedy in Iraq:

“We have watched in admiration as twelve million Iraqis defied the terrorists and went to the polls and chose their leaders in free elections. We watched in horror as al-Qaida beheaded innocent captives, and sent suicide bombers to blow up mosques and markets.”

“These actions,” said Mr. Bush “show the brutal nature of the enemy in Iraq.” Much progress has been made, said President Bush, but “there is still hard work to be done in Iraq”:

“The challenge in this period ahead is to consolidate the gains we have made and seal the extremists defeat. . . We’re helping the people of Iraq establish a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. . . A free Iraq will be an example for others of the power of liberty to change the societies and to displace despair with hope.”