- Over the past three years, I have often addressed the American people to explain developments in Iraq. Some of these developments were encouraging, such as the capture of Saddam Hussein, the elections in which 12 million Iraqis defied the terrorists and voted for a free future, and the demise of the brutal terrorist Zarqawi.
- The events of the past month have been a serious concern to me and a serious concern to the American people.
- I know the American people understand the stakes in Iraq. They want to win. They will support the war as long as they see a path to victory.
- It’s my responsibility to provide the American people with a candid assessment on the way forward. There is tough fighting ahead. The road to victory will not be easy. We should not expect a simple solution.
- And my point to the American people is that we’re constantly adjusting our tactics to achieve victory.
- One way for the American people to understand what Iraq could look like is what Afghanistan looked like under the Taliban, a place where there was no freedom, a place where women were taken into the public square and beaten if they did not adhere to the strict, intolerant guidelines of the Taliban, a place where thousands trained to attack America and our allies.
- BUSH: It’s a conditions-based estimate. And that’s important for the American people to know. This notion about, you know, fixed timetable of withdrawal, in my judgment, means defeat.
- So why shouldn’t the American people conclude that this is nothing from you other than semantic, rhetoric games and all politics two weeks before an election?
- Now, I’m giving the speech you’re asking me why I’m giving this speech today because there’s I think I owe an explanation to the American people and will continue to make explanations. The people need to know that we have a plan for victory.
- And what can you tell the American people about his ability to rein in the militias, since he seems to derive much of his power front them?
- I think he’s referring to the benchmarks that were developing that show a way forward to the Iraqi people and the American people, for that matter about how this unity government is going to solve problems and bring the people together.
- BUSH: I think the coming election is a referendum on these two things: which party has got the plan that will enable our economy to continue to grow and which party has a plan to protect the American people.
- These are lethal, cold-blooded killers. And we must do everything we can to protect the American people, including questioning detainees or listening to their phone calls from outside the country to inside the country.
- In other words, as you know, there was some recent votes on that issue. And the Democrats voted against giving our professionals the tools necessary to protect the American people.
- If you raise taxes, it will hurt the economy. If you don’t extend the tax cuts, if you don’t make them in other words, if you let the tax cuts expire, it will be a tax increase on the American people.
- Can you tell the American people how you plan to measure his success in reaching those benchmarks and what happens if he doesn’t hit those benchmarks?
- BUSH: The first objective is to develop benchmarks that the government agrees with and that we think are important. You can’t it’s really important for the American people to understand that to say, OK, these are the benchmarks you must live with, is not going to work nearly as effectively as if we have when we have buy-in from the government itself, the sovereign government of Iraq.
- It’ll also be beneficial for the American people to be able to see that this Iraqi government is going to make the difficult decisions necessary to move forward to achieve the goal. And that’s what we’re talking about when it comes to benchmarks.
- But the American people are going to decide, and they’re going to decide this race based upon who best to protect the American people and who best to keep the taxes low.
- And then when it changed, we changed. And that’s important for the American people to know, that we’re constantly changing tactics to meet the situation on the ground.