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Bush defines successful end to Iraq War

Posted May 22, 2008

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— President George W. Bush praised 82nd Airborne Division troops Thursday morning during a visit to Fort Bragg and said the U.S. cannot afford to pull back from the war on terror.

"You've taken the battle to the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home," Bush told an estimated 15,000 troops and family members, noting the 82nd Airborne has been the most-deployed Army division since 9/11 and "represents the vanguard of freedom."

"In your ranks, I see the strength of the greatest military the world has ever known," he said.

Bush also listed four conditions for Iraq that would define success in the war there: security from insurgents, a growing economy, a democratic government and becoming a U.S. ally in the war on terror.

"Success will be when al-Qaeda has no safe haven in Iraq and Iraqis can protect themselves," he said. "Success will be when Iraq is a nation that can support itself economically. Success will be when Iraq is a democracy that governs itself effectively and responds to the will of its people. Success will be when Iraq is a strong and capable ally in the war on terror.

"When our country succeeds in Iraq, generations of our country will be more secure."

Bush's visit highlighted All American Week events at Fort Bragg. The annual event had to be canceled last year because most of the troops at the base were deployed overseas.

Many of the units have rotated back home in recent months, and Bush recognized their efforts.

"We've asked a lot of you. You've achieved difficult kind of objectives in a new kind of war. You've performed with skill and honor," he said. "On behalf of a grateful nation, welcome home."

More troops will be coming home in the coming months, he said. By the end of July, troop levels in Iraq will be 25 percent lower than a year ago, he said.

Still, he vowed U.S. military leaders would have the necessary resources to succeed. Until then, continuing the war is worth the cost in lives and dollars, he said.

Senate Republicans broke with Bush Thursday to help Democrats add support for veterans and the unemployed to a bill paying for another year of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The 75-22 vote also adds billions of dollars in other domestic funds, such as heating subsidies for the poor and money for fighting wildfires, to the $165 billion for the military operations overseas.

The vote is a rebuke to Bush, who has promised to veto the measure if it contained the domestic measures. However, the president still has enough GOP support to sustain a veto.

"The United States Congress needs to pass a responsible war-funding bill that does not tie the hands of our commanders and gives the troops everything they need to complete and accomplish the mission," Bush said at Fort Bragg.

"The mission in Iraq ... will not come easily," he said. "But progress is undeniable. Because of your bravery and courage, the terrorists are on the run, and we are on the way to victory."

Lt. Col. Barry DeRuzza agreed with Bush's assessment of the situation in Iraq.

"From the area of operations that I operated in, I could see that every day – that there was progress and irreversible momentum," DeRuzza said.

Also during his visit, the president honored a local volunteer and attended a memorial service.

Bush presented the President's Volunteer Service Award to Amy Petrenko, an Army wife for 19 years. Petrenko has volunteered for the National Military Family Association for 11 years at Fort Bragg and other duty stations.

“I just look around and see if there's anything that needs to be done, and if I can fit it into my schedule, then I would try to get it in my schedule,” Petrenko said.

When soldiers are deployed, she has stepped up, helping spouses network and find resources for themselves and their children.

Petrenko is married to Col. Victor Petrenko, chief of staff of the 82nd Airborne. She also volunteers with the Child Advocacy Center of Cumberland County, the Military Affairs Council and the Boy Scouts of America.

About 150 members of Gold Star families – relatives of those killed – later joined Bush for a rededication of a growing granite memorial to the 82nd Airborne's fallen soldiers. Eighty-seven division troops died last year.

"We will always honor their memory, and we pledge their sacrifice shall not be in vain," he said.

Army wife Krystina Haines said she found comfort in the president's words.

"This is my husband's first time going overseas, and I think this will give him a little more motivation," Haines said.


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  • Six String May 23, 2008

    I've seen the 18% approval rating of Congress in the news for awhile now and I wonder how the number was derived, i.e., what were the question(s) asked? Do we have a number that represents disapproval of Democrats in Congress, and also Republicans in Congress? If it were separated that way, I wonder if that 18% approval rating might be mostly disenchantment with the Republican efforts to deny any change coming from across the aisle? That would be an interesting survey and more meaningful. We're probably going to get the answer to that on election day. As of this time, 26 Republicans have either left Congress, been thrown out in elections, or decided not to run again.

  • beachbum1 May 23, 2008

    I just read the story...LOL LOL LOL

  • cartman May 23, 2008

    We should have never been in this "war" to begin with. Remember when Bush declared victory? Where is that, or is he going to declare another one.

    He should leave office.....right now.

  • davidgnews May 23, 2008

    "How very true. And with it has to be included that other little country that exists where much of Palestine used to."

    I'll say it. Israel.

    I think the holocaust was one of the worst tragedies in history, but I had no more to do with it than I had to do with slavery. I get tired of people holding entitlement/restitution attitudes instead of moving on, and that's one of the problems in the Middle East today. They need to get out of those occupied areas, as you can't have somethng both ways.

  • captain103 May 23, 2008

    I am a patriot American first, not a Republican or Democrat, not a Liberal or Conservative. I have fought & bled for this country, I have served with men who cannot voice there opinion anymore. Do I respect the President & Congress today? Not a single ONE! This country is turning to the U.S. of ME & I. Wake up America. Don't think ole George & Congress won't sell us out for a dollar. And you have to really ask yourself about the upcoming replacements, are these people the best this country has to offer? This is still the best country on earth, for God's sake we will have to do alot more to keep it that way for us & our children.

  • JohnnyMalaria May 22, 2008

    "All because of a little country called Palestine...." - blackdog

    How very true. And with it has to be included that other little country that exists where much of Palestine used to.

    Of course, I daren't utter its name in fear of the thought police and GIT-R-DONE brigade that hang out here.

  • blackdog May 22, 2008

    ....getting rid of Saddam played right into the plans of AlQuada and the path to a really radical Islam. Kind like us, when we invent rationalle and laws to support our cause. When we ignore the experts and go headlong into something we know not what. We write it into the Koran or convince the citizens we are rightous. Zawahiri has more problems from within his own little world of Islam than from us. Make no mistake though, he and Bin Laden are respected leaders of a Holy War. All because of a little country called Palestine....

  • Lit May 22, 2008

    "Success will be when al-Qaeda has no safe haven in Iraq and Iraqis can protect themselves...when Iraq is a nation that can support itself economically....when Iraq is a democracy that governs itself effectively and responds to the will of its people....when Iraq is a strong and capable ally in the war on terror..." -President Bush

    Every single criterion defined above hinges on choices to be made by the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. Little of this has anything to do with U.S. presence in Iraq...

  • ifcdirector May 22, 2008

    "I highly doubt that you are any kind of military other than "internet tough guy". "

    Yeah I forgot to add that my award from Donald Rumsfeld reads "To The Internet Tough Guy". How silly of me. I guess it really is true that when your argument can't hold water anymore it's best to resort to personal attacks on the person who has bested you. I think you are in pretty poor company strategy wise there Von Clausewitz and history will bear that out. You speak of denying the enemy a stronghold? Well it looks like you created a ready made bastion and magnet for radical fighters, including Iranian Quds forces, who are beating their way to Iraq to look for the people who are walking around not dressed as Iraqi civilians wouldn't you say? I would not talk strategy or being tough if you don't have the guts to declare total war on something which you obviously do not. Brilliant strategy to go to ground with your enemy on his ground on his terms instead. Winner. Go read something...anything.

  • davidgnews May 22, 2008

    BULLDOZER - he has NO respect, and total disregard, for the American people aside from what he can get out of them. I wouldn't for once welcome him in my driveway, let alone my own house.

    People have a real fairy-tale idea of the president, no matter who is there, and just believe anything passed off to them. I don't believe Bush ever quit drinking, any more than Clinton quite doing cocaine, any more than Reagan didn't dye his hair. If we only had an inkling of an idea of what goes on in the white house, I'm sure most would be appalled.

    Puh-leeze !

    I understand, though. This country is starving for a real, not contrived, hero, and there's no one to be found anymore. One thing is certain to me -there's no one good enough to get my vote, if it counted in the first place. No one else is convincing me, either.