President Bush has appealed to Americans for patience with what he calls the difficult and dangerous work in Iraq, and again rejected calls for a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from there.
In a major speech delivered at one of the country's largest military bases in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Mr. Bush said the sacrifices in Iraq are worth it and necessary to the future security of the United States. He said setting an artificial timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops would be a "serious mistake." He also said there are no plans for sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.
Mr. Bush said Iraq is a central battlefield in the global war on terror. He said the only way enemies of the United States can succeed is if Americans forget the lessons of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and if the future of the Middle East is yielded to men like al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
The speech marks the first anniversary of the U.S. transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, and comes as recent public opinion polls indicate American support for the military effort in Iraq is declining.
Earlier Tuesday, opposition Democrats, such as House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, called on Mr. Bush to level with the American people and to present a clear strategy for success in Iraq.