In his State of the Union Address to Congress Wednesday, President Bush said the elections in Iraq show that terrorists cannot intimidate the will of those seeking freedom.
White House correspondent Scott Stearns reports that Democratic lawmakers counter that Mr. Bush is not doing enough to protect Americans at home.
President Bush says the new political situation in Iraq means U.S. troops will increasingly focus on training Iraqi security forces to take on greater responsibilities. In the end, he says, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country. "We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned," said the president to Congress.
Much of the president's speech focused on continuing to spread freedom because, he says, if whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be a recruiting ground for terror. "The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures."
The president says "hopeful" political reforms are already taking hold from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. He called on U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt to expand democratic opportunities and singled out Syria and Iran as countries that he says continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder.
President Bush says America has taken "unprecedented actions" to protect itself since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, but he says much work still remains.
"There are still governments that sponsor and harbor terrorists -- but their number has declined. There are still regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction -- but no longer without attention and without consequence. Our country is still the target of terrorists who want to kill many, and intimidate us all -- and we will stay on the offensive against them, until the fight is won," vowed Mr. Bush.
In the Democratic response to the president's State of the Union speech, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the Bush administration has not adequately prepared for another possible terrorist attack. The California Democrat says all airline cargo is still not inspected, railroads and power plants are not secure, and police and firefighters do not have sufficient funding and training.
Congressman Pelosi says the president must work with other countries to ensure that dangerous materials do not fall into terrorist hands. "The greatest threat to our homeland security is the tons of biological, chemical, and even nuclear materials that are unaccounted for or unguarded. The president says the right words about the threat but has failed to take action commensurate with it."
The president's biggest domestic goal is reforming the federal pension program (Social Security) to allow younger workers to invest in private accounts to earn a higher rate of return. Democrats say the plan means younger workers could lose much of their retirement savings in the uncertainty of financial markets.
The president hit the road Thursday to promote his Social Security plan with two days of speeches in the states of North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Florida.