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U.S.: Bush Presses Iraq, Afghanistan As Fronts In Terror War

  • Andrew Tully --> President Bush (file photo) U.S. President George W. Bush today updated the American people on the progress of the "war on terror" and thanked the country's armed forces for their efforts in the conflict. He also said the United States stands firm with Britain, which suffered four bombings in London last week. He said both nations are doing their best to protect their people by fighting Muslim militants both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Washington, 11 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Bush said the bombings in London last week were only the latest in a string of attacks that he believes must be met with force and determination.

"The aim of the terrorists is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression by toppling governments, by exporting terror, by forcing free nations to retreat and withdraw," Bush said. "To achieve these aims, they attacked our country on September the 11th, 2001. They continue to kill in Bali, in Casablanca, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid, and elsewhere."

Bush delivered the speech in Quantico, Virginia, near Washington. Quantico is home to the training center for agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a major base of the U.S. Marines.

The U.S. president again expressed his solidarity with Britain, and he paraphrased British Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement that the determination of what he called the "civilized world" will outlast the militants' desire to kill.

Bush said his strategy has been threefold: first, to protect Americans from further attacks; second to investigate and uncover any plots to strike within the United States. But the third element, he said, is the most important.

"We're staying on the offensive. We're fighting the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the world so we do not have to face them here at home," Bush said.

This way, Bush said, the American people don't have to face a war that was thrust on them nearly four years ago.

This strategy has worked well so far, according to Frank Cilluffo, a former advisor to Bush on domestic security. In an interview with RFE/RL, he said one tactic of the militants is to make the populations of target countries always feel threatened in order to weaken their confidence in their leaders.

Cilluffo said Bush is using that very tactic in reverse by bringing the war against the militants first to Afghanistan and now to Iraq.

"We've put great emphasis on the campaign and war on terrorism abroad, to keep them on edge, to keep them to keep looking over their shoulder, to lessen their opportunities to train, [to] drain the swamp that we saw in Afghanistan, where they were basically operating freely," Cilluffo said.

According to Cilluffo, there is no better way to prevent a recurrence of the attacks of 11 September 2001 than to keep the enemy busy elsewhere.

But Murhaf Jouejati, a native Syrian and the director of the Middle East Studies at George Washington University in Washington, told RFE/RL that it is fine for Bush to do all he can to protect the American people.

But Jouejati insisted that Bush's so-called "war on terror" is America's war, not Iraq's, and therefore should not be fought on Iraqi soil.

"This is not fair to the Iraqis and it's not fair to anyone else. Now that the U.S. borders look as though they are far more sealed than ever before, terrorism is occurring in Europe, but first and foremost in Iraq against Iraqi civilians. Every day that goes by there are tens of innocent Iraqi civilians that are killed. While Americans may be safer, Iraqis certainly are not," Jouejati said.

What is worse, Jouejati said, is that by invading Iraq, Bush has helped militant groups in Iraq and elsewhere find new recruits eager to make war on the United States. He said that should hardly make Americans feel more secure.