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Bush: Iraq War Justified


President Bush says U.S. troops are making progress in Iraq, three years after the start of fighting there. Two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of the way the president is handling Iraq.

With falling public support for the war, President Bush says he understands that Americans are skeptical about how things are going there, amid what he calls horrific images of reprisal killings, car bombings and kidnapping.

"Amid continued reports about the tense situation in parts of that country, it may seem difficult at times to understand how we can say that progress is being made," said Mr. Bush. "But, the reaction to the recent violence by Iraq's leaders is a clear sign of Iraq's commitment to democracy."

In his weekly radio address, the president said he is encouraged that Iraqi politicians are making good progress toward forming a government of national unity. He says the recent violence has given those leaders a new sense of urgency to put aside their political, religious and sectarian differences.

Only then, Mr. Bush says, can they confront terrorist threats and earn the confidence of the Iraqi people.

Coinciding with the third anniversary Sunday of the U.S.-led invasion, the president is giving a series of speeches meant to convince Americans that he has a strategy for victory in Iraq.

U.S. public opinion polls show nearly four-of-five Americans, and 70 percent of the president's own Republican Party, believe Iraq will collapse into civil war.

President Bush says he understands that many Americans are now wondering if the entire mission in Iraq was worth it. He says toppling Saddam Hussein is an achievement Americans can be proud of, because the world is better off without him in power.

Three years into that war, opposition Democrats say U.S. forces are fighting a growing insurgency. In the Democratic radio address, California Senator Diane Feinstein says there has been little progress in improving Iraqi politics, security or reconstruction.

"It didn't have to be this way, but the administration's dangerous incompetence has made the job harder. And, now that Iraq is on the brink of a civil war, it is more important than ever to do it right," she said. "The political leaders who cherry-picked pre-war intelligence, who failed to plan to win the peace, who sent our troops into battle without body armor must now show the American people they have learned from their mistakes."

If success in Iraq were solely up to the U.S. military, Senator Feinstein says, there would be no doubt about the outcome. But, she says, success depends as well on the leadership of President Bush and the willingness of Iraqi politicians to compromise.

President Bush says the last three years have tested America's resolve with hard days and setbacks, but U.S. troops have changed their approach to reflect the hard realities on the ground.

"More fighting and sacrifice will be required to achieve this victory, and for some, the temptation to retreat and abandon our commitments is strong," said Mr. Bush. "Yet, there is no peace, there's no honor, and there's no security in retreat."

Mr. Bush says U.S. troops will finish the mission, and, by defeating terrorists in Iraq, they will make America safer.