Asks for More Resources to Fight War on Terror, 9/08/03
In a televised speech to the nation on Sunday night, President Bush pledged to "do what is necessary" and "spend what is necessary" to achieve victory in Iraq and the war on terror.
The president also announced plans to ask Congress for $87 billion to fund ongoing military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The money would also support rebuilding efforts in the two countries.
"This will take time and require sacrifice," President Bush said. "Yet we will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom and to make our own nation more secure."
The president outlined three main U.S. objectives in Iraq: Destroy the terrorists; enlist the support of other nations in securing a free Iraq; and help Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future.
The U.S. asks for help
The speech came after weeks of criticism over the high number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq since the war ended and after two deadly terrorist attacks seriously undermined U.S. efforts to maintain security in the country.
Some 149 Americans have died in Iraq since the president declared the end of major combat operations on May 1. Critics have blamed the United States' refusal to allow a United Nations-led, multinational force into Iraq to help secure the country.
To date, the United States has refused to share military or political control of Iraq with the United Nations, but on Sunday, Mr. Bush said the United States would present a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would create a U.S.-led multinational force in the country.
"I recognize that not all of our friends agreed with our decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Yet we cannot let past differences interfere with present duties," Bush said in his speech.
"Members of the United Nations now have an opportunity, and the responsibility, to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation," he added.
The president called Iraq the "central front" in the war against global terrorism, blaming recent attacks on coalition forces in the country on fighters still loyal to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists.
President Bush listed
successes in the war on terrorism in the two years since the Sept. 11
terror attacks, including "destroying the training camps of terror"
in Afghanistan and capturing or killing "nearly two-thirds"
of the al-Qaida terrorist network's known leaders worldwide. He ended
his speech saying the dangers to the United States have not passed.
Several Democrats criticized the president's Iraq policy and his remarks.
"The problem now is the president did his photo op - he landed on the aircraft carrier, declared the war was over - but he's never had a plan, and he's never gotten us the help that we need and our troops deserve from other countries," former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) said.
Gephardt, along with eight other Democrats, is currently campaigning for president, hoping to unseat President Bush in the 2004 election.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the leading Democratic nominee, called the president's speech "outrageous."
"In 15 minutes, he attempted to make up for 15 months of misleading the American people and 15 weeks of mismanaging the reconstruction," he said.
Fellow Republicans also expressed some doubt over Mr. Bush's plan to ask the United Nations to authorize a U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq.
"It's the United States' war," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican. "We're the ones that started it. It's our responsibility to finished it."
But national security adviser Condoleezza Rice defended the president, telling CNN there is evidence that terrorists are trying to operate in Iraq.
The president believes the "cost of freedom and the cost of peace cannot be measured and that it is important that we put adequate resources to this task."