Bush Defends Wars, Citing Freedom




 
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Boots
 
March 12th, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Bush Defends Wars, Citing Freedom


New York Times
March 12, 2008
Pg. 8
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg
NASHVILLE — President Bush delivered a rousing defense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on Tuesday, mixing faith and foreign policy as he told a group of Christian broadcasters that his policies in the region were predicated on the beliefs that freedom was a God-given right and “every human being bears the image of our maker.”
In a 42-minute speech to the National Religious Broadcasters convention, Mr. Bush called upon European allies to step up their efforts in Afghanistan, and conceded that recent security gains in Iraq “are tenuous, they’re reversible and they’re fragile.” Still, he insisted that his troop buildup there was succeeding.
“The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency,” Mr. Bush said, to a standing ovation. “It is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision.”
The speech, coming a week before the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, is the first of three talks on terrorism and war policy that Mr. Bush will give before next month’s Congressional testimony by the top American military commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the senior diplomat there, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker.
General Petraeus is widely expected to recommend a temporary pause in troop withdrawals from Iraq, although at least one senior administration official said the president envisioned further reductions this year. With the nation’s attention turned to the race to succeed Mr. Bush, White House aides say the speeches are a way for the president to frame the Iraq discussion, taking it back from the presidential candidates and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bush cast the stakes in stark terms, repeatedly invoking his desire to spread freedom and democracy, the central themes of his foreign policy. Those themes are hardly new to American presidents. But Mr. Bush, most experts agree, has taken the American freedom agenda to an entirely new level, by trying to foster democracy in nations that have not known it before, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The effects of a free Iraq and a free Afghanistan will reach beyond the borders of those two countries,” Mr. Bush said. “It will show others what’s possible. And we undertake this work because we believe that every human being bears the image of our maker. That’s why we’re doing this. No one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.”
Mr. Bush’s faith is well known; he credits his acceptance of Jesus with turning his life around by helping him to quit drinking at age 40. His beliefs have colored his policy decisions on matters like abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and fighting malaria and AIDS in Africa.
He opened with a nod to the Rev. Billy Graham, who is recovering from surgery at his home in North Carolina. Mr. Bush said the preacher “brought the gospel to millions, and many years ago he helped me change my life.”
 


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