President Bush says helping bring democracy to Iraq is one of the biggest foreign policy goals of his second term in office.
With U.S. troops massing around the Iraqi city of Fallujah, President Bush says American commanders are working with Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government to ensure that plans for January elections are not disrupted by violence.
"In order for Iraq to be a free country, those who are trying to stop the elections and stop a free society from emerging must be defeated," Mr. Bush said.
In a post-election news conference, Mr. Bush told White House reporters that American troops are in Iraq at the invitation of the country's transitional government, which he says realizes that some Iraqis involved in the insurgency must be defeated.
Without naming names, Mr. Bush says there is a certain attitude in the world by some who say it is a waste of time to try and promote free societies in parts of the world. The president says he has heard that criticism and rejects it in favor of his vision for spreading democracy throughout the greater Middle East.
"And I fully understand that that might rankle some and be viewed by some as folly," Mr. Bush said. "I just strongly disagree with those who do not see the wisdom of trying to promote free societies around the world. If we are interested in protecting our country for the long term, the best way to do so is to promote freedom and democracy."
The president says coalition troops are making good progress training a new Iraq army. Mr. Bush says he has not received briefings from U.S. commanders on American troop levels in the country, saying reports that more U.S. forces will soon be on their way are, at this point, pure speculation.