This is the central purpose behind what we are doing there. There are those who want to revisit other reasons that were part of the justification for going into Iraq, to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and all the rest. But those reasons, however unproven they may be now, were only ancillary to the core geopolitical goal of turning a dangerous, war-making place of terrorist-run regimes into peaceful allies aligned with the United States and our war against the kind of people who attacked us and are plotting to do so again.
Last week's coalition breakthrough was certainly a victory for our brave soldiers who brought this about. But it was also a victory for the policy that Bush has put in place and for sticking with it through good days and bad, victories and defeats, and the ups and downs of a struggling country that has experienced, in Lincoln's words, "a new birth of freedom."
Bush spoke with the new leaders of Iraq's government Sunday, telling them how proud he was of their selfless actions and urging them to unite their country," reminding them of their "awesome" responsibilities to build a better life for all Iraqis "regardless of their religious status and nature" and "to defeat the terrorists."
Meantime, let us not forget the war against the terrorists in Afghanistan where the latest reports show that the U.S.-trained Afghan National Army is growing in strength and confidence. After months of pessimistic, defeatist stories from the region, NBC News aired a report last week saying "for the first time, Afghan troops, some 40,000 strong, are able to sustain their own fight, supplying their own front lines with food and ammo."
Last week was a bad week for the Taliban. "The ANA inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban gunmen and held its own during operation 'Mountain Lion,' the biggest joint operation since the start of the war," NBC's Jim Maceda reported.
"They (the Afghan soldiers) finally have something to grab onto, a nation to fight for, a cause worthy of fighting and dying such as we the American soldiers do," said Sgt. Bill Yenser of the 10th Mountain Division.
The struggle to defeat the forces of terror and strengthen the forces of freedom will go on for some time, but last week democracy and freedom won some big victories. George W. Bush had a lot to do with that.