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Bush Urges US to Move Forward in Address to Nation - 2004-01-21

President Bush used his annual State of the Union address to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Mr. Bush outlined many of the issues he will use in this year's campaign for re-election.

Last year's State of the Union address made the case for invading Iraq, President Bush used this year's speech to celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein. "The once all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole, and now sits in a prison cell," he said.

Mr. Bush says America will not be intimidated by what he calls the "thugs and assassins" who continue to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. He says those killers will fail, and the Iraqi people will live in peace. "We are dealing with these thugs in Iraq just as surely as we dealt with Saddam Hussein's evil regime," he said.

With the fall of that government, Mr. Bush says Iraqis are now assuming more responsibility for their security and the future of a new democracy.

One of the president's invited guests to the speech before a joint session of Congress was the current president of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi. Mr. Bush told him Americans stand with the Iraqi people, as they build a free and peaceful nation.

Because of American leadership and resolve, Mr. Bush says the world is changing for the better. Following the fall of the Taleban in Afghanistan, he says that country now has a constitution guaranteeing free elections and full participation by women.

President Bush says Libya has agreed to dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction because Colonel Muamar Qadhafi correctly judged that he would be better off and more secure without those weapons. "Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not," he said. "And, one reason is clear. For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible. And no one can now doubt the word of America."

The president says America has sought international support for its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and has gained much support. But he says there is a difference between leading a coalition and submitting to the objections of a few. "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country."

In this election year, the president says the nation must decide whether to continue its fight against terrorism or fall into what he says is the false belief that the danger has passed. "We have faced serious challenges together, and now we face a choice. We can go forward with confidence and resolve," he said. "Or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us."

Mr. Bush spent much of his speech discussing how he intends to improve life in America with more money for job training and a call on Congress to make his record tax cuts permanent. He wants to reform U.S. immigration laws to give temporary worker cards to undocumented aliens. Mr. Bush championed legislation changing the way older Americans pay for health care.

He called for more money for drug testing in schools and greater funding for programs promoting abstinence to lower the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The president wants more government funding for religious-based charities and more money to help newly-released prisoners reintegrate themselves into society.