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Bush Defends War Strategy in Iraq, Says 'Victory Will Be Achieved'


President Bush says Iraq is making progress toward forming a government of national unity and stopping sectarian violence.

President Bush is continuing a campaign to convince Americans of his strategy for success in Iraq at a time of falling public support for the war.

Speaking at a community college in the state of North Carolina, the president said his approach to the fight against terrorism, and the war in Iraq, is working.

"Press the enemy. Find the enemy. Bring the enemy to justice. Never relent. Never give them quarter. Understand you cannot negotiate with these people. You cannot rationalize with these people. You must stay on the hunt, and bring them to justice. This is precisely what we are doing," he said.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans now believe Iraq is slipping into civil war, and question whether the U.S.-led invasion three years ago was worth it. The latest Time magazine poll puts the president's approval rating at just 37 percent, the lowest registered in that survey.

Mr. Bush says the Iraqi people are listening carefully to the American debate about the war, and whether the nation has the will to continue the fight. He says terrorists in Iraq are purposely targeting civilians, to produce what he calls horrific images of car bombings and kidnappings that they know will be shown on American television.

"They recognize they cannot beat us on the battlefield," noted President Bush. "They cannot militarily defeat the United States of America, but they can affect our conscience. And I can understand why. Nobody likes to see violence on the TV screens."

President Bush says the enemy understands that, if America loses its nerve and retreats from Iraq, they win.

"They cannot shake my nerve. They just cannot shake it," said Mr. Bush. "So long as I think I am doing the right thing, and so long as we can win, I am going to leave our kids there, because it is necessary for the security of this country. If I did not think that we could win, I would pull them out. You just got to know that. I cannot sit with the mothers and fathers of our troops in harm's way, and not feel like victory is necessary, and victory will be achieved."

President Bush says Iraqi politicians understand the urgency of forming a government of national unity to overcome ethnic and religious divisions exploited by former dictator Saddam Hussein.

He says U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces are making progress in quelling sectarian violence sparked by February's bombing of a sacred Shi'ite shrine in Samara.

The president says victory will be achieved in Iraq when there is a democracy that can sustain itself, can defend itself against attacks, is an ally in the fight against terrorism, and denies safe haven to terrorists.

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