October 29, 2003
Bush says he won't be cowed by Iraq terror
Other nations urged not to rethink sending troops
By GEORGE E. CONDON JR.
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON – President Bush vowed yesterday that he will not be "intimidated" by the latest wave of terrorism to hit Baghdad, declaring great successes in Iraq and saying that he was right to go to war.
At a nationally televised Rose Garden news conference, Bush urged other countries not to let the fresh spate of bombings deter them from sending troops to Iraq. He also counseled Americans to be patient despite the threat to U.S. forces.
Repeatedly – 13 times – Bush acknowledged that Iraq is a "dangerous" place.
He blamed the violence that has killed more than three dozen people this week on desperate supporters of deposed leader Saddam Hussein, as well as on foreign terrorists who have flowed across the Iraqi border to fight the U.S. occupiers.
"We're trying to determine the nature of who these people were," Bush said, adding, "I would assume that they're . . . probably both Baathists and foreign terrorists."
He said the Baathists "try to create chaos and fear because they realize that a free Iraq will deny them the excessive privileges they had under Hussein. The foreign terrorists are trying to create conditions of fear and retreat because they fear a free and peaceful state in the midst of the part of the world where terror has found recruits."
Bush defended his policies on Iraq, saying he used "good, solid intelligence" when he said the Iraqis possessed weapons of mass destruction. He denied claims that he is not leveling with the American people about the realities of postwar Iraq with his repeated proclamations of progress.
"I can't put it any more plainly: Iraq is a dangerous place. That's leveling. It is a dangerous place," he said, quickly adding his oft-heard recitation of school openings and electrical production that he said shows "there's more than just terrorist attacks that are taking place in Iraq."
For the first time, Bush sought to distance himself from the powerful message he sent in May when he flew to the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego to stand under a "Mission Accomplished" banner and declare an end to major combat operations.
Six months later – after an additional 115 U.S. troops have been killed by enemy fire and more than 1,000 wounded – the president said the banner "was put up by members of the Lincoln's crew, saying their mission was accomplished." He acknowledged that his staff was widely credited for the sign, but contended, "They weren't that ingenious."
He said his speech that day "proved to be right" because he warned about dangers to come.
"It is dangerous in Iraq . . . because there are people who can't stand the thought of a free and peaceful Iraq," Bush said. "It is dangerous in Iraq because there are some who believe that we're soft, that the will of the United States can be shaken by (suicide bombers)."
But the U.S. response will prove them wrong, he said. "This country will stay the course. We'll do our job." The attacks on civilian targets "will not intimidate us."
Bush expressed concern about the impact of the latest attacks on those countries considering sending troops to assist U.S. forces in Iraq.
Asked if those countries will be discouraged, he responded: "I hope not. That's what the terrorists want. They want countries to say: 'Oh, gosh! Well, we better not send anybody there because somebody might get hurt.' "
The president suggested that the U.S. military is continually shifting tactics to counter the terrorists. The strategy, he said, "is to encourage better intelligence and get more Iraqis involved and have our strike teams ready to move. . . . People are constantly taking a fresh look at the enemy."
A peaceful and free Iraq "is essential to the . . . future security of America," Bush said.