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5/13/04 - THE U-S COMMITMENT TO IRAQ - 2004-05-13

The United States is committed to the emergence of a democratic and secure Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition is on the offensive against remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, foreign terrorists, and extremists who oppose Iraqi progress.

The insurgents in Fallujah and elsewhere are hiding behind an innocent civilian population. President George W. Bush says the terrorists are calculating that the coalition’s use of force “will alienate ordinary Iraqis”:

“Yet every day, our troops are responding with precision and discipline and restraint. We’re taking every precaution to avoid hurting the innocent, as we deliver justice to the guilty.”

Najaf is a major Shia population center and holy site in southern Iraq. The coalition is dismantling an illegal militia that engaged in violence in an attempt to seize control. Mr. Bush says that “elements of this militia have been ejected from the Najaf governor’s office, and a legitimate governor has been appointed”:

“The people of Najaf and Shia leaders oppose the occupation by this illegal militia and are putting pressure on the militia to withdraw.”

There have been serious missteps in Iraq. U.S. soldiers have abused Iraqi prisoners. But because the U.S. is committed to the equality and dignity of all people, says Mr. Bush, “there will be a full accounting for the cruel and disgraceful abuse of Iraqi detainees”:

“One basic difference between democracies and dictatorships is that free countries confront such abuses openly and directly.... We will honor rule of law. All prison operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to make certain that such offenses are not repeated.”

Decades of oppression by Saddam Hussein destroyed hope in Iraq. But the Iraqi people want their freedom and independence. They will get it when sovereignty is returned to Iraq on June 30th. As President Bush puts it, “The Iraqi people, and men and women across the Middle East, are watching closely, and they will see America keep its word.”