Friday, October 08, 2004

Bremer Sets the Record Straight

John Kerry, the democrats and the mainstream media jumped on recent comments by Paul Bremer to try to undermine the President's leadership in the war in terror. Today in the New York Times, Paul Bremer sets the record straight on what he said and what he thinks about the President’s leadership in Iraq and the greater war on terror. An excerpt:

In my speeches, I have said that the United States paid a price for not stopping the looting in Iraq in the immediate aftermath of major combat operations and that we did not have enough troops on the ground to accomplish that task. The press and critics of the war have seized on these remarks in an effort to undermine President Bush's Iraq policy.
This effort won't succeed. Let me explain why.
It's no secret that during my time in Iraq I had tactical disagreements with others, including military commanders on the ground. Such disagreements among individuals of good will happen all the time, particularly in war and postwar situations. I believe it would have been helpful to have had more troops early on to stop the looting that did so much damage to Iraq's already decrepit infrastructure. The military commanders believed we had enough American troops in Iraq and that having a larger American military presence would have been counterproductive because it would have alienated Iraqis. That was a reasonable point of view, and it may have been right. The truth is that we'll never know.
But during the 14 months I was in Iraq, the administration, the military and I all agreed that the coalition's top priority was a broad, sustained effort to train Iraqis to take more responsibility for their own security. This effort, financed in large measure by the emergency supplemental budget approved by Congress last year, continues today. In the end, Iraq's security must depend on Iraqis.
Our troops continue to work closely with Iraqis to isolate and destroy terrorist strongholds. And the United States is supporting Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in his determined effort to bring security and democracy to Iraq. Elections will be held in January and, though there will be challenges and hardships, progress is being made. For the task before us now, I believe we have enough troops in Iraq.
The press has been curiously reluctant to report my constant public support for the president's strategy in Iraq and his policies to fight terrorism. I have been involved in the war on terrorism for two decades, and in my view no world leader has better understood the stakes in this global war than President Bush.
The president was right when he concluded that Saddam Hussein was a menace who needed to be removed from power. He understands that our enemies are not confined to Al Qaeda, and certainly not just to Osama bin Laden, who is probably trapped in his hide-out in Afghanistan. As the bipartisan 9/11 commission reported, there were contacts between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime going back a decade. We will win the war against global terror only by staying on the offensive and confronting terrorists and state sponsors of terror - wherever they are. Right now, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Qaeda ally, is a dangerous threat. He is in Iraq.
President Bush has said that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. He is right. Mr. Zarqawi's stated goal is to kill Americans, set off a sectarian war in Iraq and defeat democracy there. He is our enemy.
Our victory also depends on devoting the resources necessary to win this war. So last year, President Bush asked the American people to make available $87 billion for military and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military commanders and I strongly agreed on the importance of these funds, which is why we stood together before Congress to make the case for their approval. The overwhelming majority of Congress understood and provided the funds needed to fight the war and win the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. These were vital resources that Senator John Kerry voted to deny our troops.
Mr. Kerry is free to quote my comments about Iraq. But for the sake of honesty he should also point out that I have repeatedly said, including in all my speeches in recent weeks, that President Bush made a correct and courageous decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein's brutality, and that the president is correct to see the war in Iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism.

John Kerry and the Democrats will not quote Mr. Bremer correctly. They have proven time and time again that will say anything about the war to regain power. The most recent example is the breathless reporting about the Duelfer Report stating their were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Again the press is very reluctant to report the much more pertinent finsdings that support the war, and John Kerry continues to act as though the bribery, corruption and rot in the sanctions and the UN oil for food program didn’t happen. I think Mr. Kerry may be projecting when he claims that it is President Bush that is living in a fantasy land.


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