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Bush declares Iraq ‘worth it’

US PRESIDENT George W. Bush declined to provide a timetable for an American pullout from Iraq last week, but said there was no need to send more troops to the country.

US PRESIDENT George W. Bush declined to provide a timetable for an American pullout from Iraq last week, but said there was no need to send more troops to the country.

In a 30-minute speech at a US Army base that has almost 10,000 troops stationed in Iraq, Bush tried to reassure Americans who are displeased with the course of events there. “Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it and it is vital to the security of our country,” Bush said. “America will not leave before the job is done,” he added.

His speech was part of an effort to reverse a slump in support for the war in the US, with a poll released by Gallup last week suggesting just one in three Americans believe the US and its allies are winning the war.

Bush said that to increase America’s military presence in Iraq would be the wrong move as it would harm the US’ strategy to encourage Iraqi security forces to take a leadership role. “We have a clear path forward,” he said. “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.”

Analysts saw Bush’s address as an attempt to boost Americans’ support for the war amid daily attacks on their troops and civilians. The president said he understood concerns about the war, which has claimed the lives of more than 1740 Americans and at least 12,000 Iraqi civilians and cost US$200 billion. “Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed,” he said. “Every picture is horrifying and the suffering is real.”

Linking the war to 9/11, Bush said that sacrifices in Iraq were “vital to the future security of our country”. “The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to people like Bin Laden,” he said.

Bush said that the US would “stay in the fight until the fight is won.” “The American people do not falter under threat, and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins,” he said.

But he also said that sending more troops would undermine the US strategy Iraq. “Sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever,” he said.

Bush described Iraqi rebels as “ruthless killers” who commit “savage acts of violence”. “Our progress has been uneven — but progress is being made,” he added.

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