President Bush is continuing a campaign to refocus Americans on his plans for success in Iraq at a time of falling public support for the war. Democrats say the president has mismanaged the war, and made America less safe.
President Bush used his weekly radio address to preview a Tuesday night speech to the nation on the first anniversary of the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty.
"To mark that historic date, I will travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to speak to our troops and the American people about our mission in Iraq, why it remains important to our safety here at home, and our two-track strategy for victory," President Bush explained. "The military track of our strategy is to defeat the terrorists and continue helping Iraqis take greater responsibility for defending their freedom. The images we see on television are a grim reminder that the enemies of freedom in Iraq are ruthless killers, with no regard for human life."
Bush administration officials are increasingly concerned about the impact of those television images on U.S. public opinion.
A CBS News / New York Times poll shows only 37 percent of Americans approving of the president's handling of the war in Iraq. That's down from 45 percent in February.
President Bush says it is a critical time of testing for the nation, as terrorists are trying to frighten Americans and Iraqis, in hopes of forcing out U.S. troops, before their mission is complete.
"The terrorists' objective is to break the will of America and of the Iraqi people, before democracy can take root," he said.
Much of the president's campaign to sharpen Americans' focus on his plans for the way forward in Iraq has returned to the link he has made between the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
President Bush says America went to war because it was attacked, and is still at war because there are still people trying to hurt Americans.
In the Democratic radio response, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said the war in Iraq has made America less secure, turning Iraq into what he calls the world's most effective terrorist training camp.
"This war has been conducted with tactical and strategic incompetence," said Zbigniew Brzezinski. "Two years later, America finds itself more isolated than ever before, the object of unprecedented international mistrust."
Mr. Brzezinski, who was in the administration of former President Carter, says Americans deserve an honest explanation for how U.S. troops ended up in Iraq, and a realistic definition of success in a war that he says increasingly threatens to become a quagmire.
"Patriotism and love of country do not demand endless sacrifice on the part of our troops in a war justified by slogans," he said. "To ensure a safe and secure America, we have a responsibility to ask how we got to this point, and where we are going from here."
Mr. Brzezinski says President Bush should explain clearly and credibly what must be achieved, before U.S. troops can leave Iraq.
During a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari Friday, President Bush ruled out any timetable for the withdrawal, saying that would concede too much to an enemy that could simply wait out U.S. troops.