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Bush Optimistic Yet Cautious As Coalition Forces Close In on Baghdad


President Bush says many dangers lie ahead, as U.S.-led coalition forces move on Baghdad, including the possibility of terrorist attacks on Americans. During a visit to the port of Philadelphia, Mr. Bush again drew a link between the Iraqi leadership and international terrorism.

President Bush remains confident, but cautious, about the war. He said day-by-day, coalition forces move closer to Baghdad and to victory. "And when victory comes, it will be shared by the long-suffering people of Iraq, who deserve freedom and dignity," he said.

He said there have been successes on the battlefield, with most of western and southern Iraq now under coalition control. But he warned that the situation remains dangerous, stressing the Iraqi regime has ruled through fear, and mistrust has become the order of the day for its people.

"Iraqis who show friendship to coalition troops are murdered in cold blood by the regime's enforcers. The people of Iraq have lived in this nightmare world for more than two decades. It is understandable that fear and mistrust run deep," Mr. Bush said.

The president spoke those words at a Coast Guard facility in Philadelphia, one of the busiest ports in the United States. He took note of the historical significance of the city and its role in the birth of American democracy.

"Here in the city where America itself gained freedom, I give this pledge to the citizens of Iraq: We are coming with a mighty force to end the reign of your oppressors," Mr. Bush said.

But Mr. Bush was doing more than sending a message to the Iraqi people. He was also speaking to the American people, stressing the link between the conflict in Iraq and the war on terrorism, and vowing to remain vigilant against a continuing terrorist threat.

"We know that our enemies are desperate. We know they are dangerous. The dying regime in Iraq may try to bring terror to our shores. Other parts of the global terror network may view this as a moment to strike, thinking that we are distracted. They are wrong," he said.

Speaking to about 1,000 Coast Guard personnel, the president emphasized the need to protect America's roads, skies, and shores.

The Coast Guard, which has long been entrusted with enforcing rules related to port entry, is now officially part of the new Department of Homeland Security, entrusted with keeping American ports free from terrorist attack.

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