I urge my Republican friends and fair-minded Independents and Democrats to read today's speech.
"Some have also argued that extremists have been strengthened by our actions in Iraq claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more then 150 Russian school children in Beslan. Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban or the Crusades of a thousand years ago.
In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.
Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response -- we will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory! The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses.
Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "What is good for them and what is not." What this man, who grew up in wealth and privilege, considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this road to -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life."
"At the same time, the Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. Last month, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote, and they approved a new constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and the level of violence was lower.
Now Iraqis are gearing up for December 15th elections, when they will go to the polls to choose a government under the new constitution. The new government will serve a four-year term, and it will represent all Iraqis. Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for the December elections.
Multiple Sunni-Arab parties have submitted a list of candidates, and several prominent Sunni politicians are running on other slates. With two successful elections completed and a third coming up next month, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence."
"The work ahead involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in this war on terror.
Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones at home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Each loss of life is heartbreaking, and the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come."
When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq, and that is their right, and I respect it. As president and commander in chief, I (accept ?) the responsibilities and the criticisms and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.
While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.
Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.
They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our security."
"That's why more then a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send to them to war continue to stand behind them.
Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that when -- whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less then victory."
I hope you take the time to read the rest.