Washington, 21 December 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Hadley acknowledged that the American public is deeply divided about what to do in Iraq. In particular, he pointed to those who want Bush to set at least tentative timetables for withdrawing American forces.
No one wants to bring the troops home more than Bush, Hadley said. But he stressed that they must stay until Iraq is safe. And he said a secure, democratic Iraq is something he says all Americans want -- both for the sake of Iraq and for the security of the United States.
"The time has come for those who understand the importance of success in Iraq to make common cause together," he said. "The Iraqi people and the security of our nation deserve no less."
Hadley said Iraq must be kept secure not only from the internal insurgency, but also from external influence -- specifically from neighboring Iran, which is a concern both to the United States and to the international community.
According to Hadley, Iranian weapons have been found in Iraq, Iran supports Middle East terrorism, it appears to be trying to develop a nuclear weapon and it limits democratic choice for its own people.
Despite all this, Hadley said, Iraqis are trying to develop their own, unique relationship with Iran. He said even many Iraqi Shi'a -- members of the same Muslim sect as most Iranians -- are determined not to let Tehran interfere in Iraq's internal affairs.
"The [Iraqi Shi'a] people we talk to say very clearly to us, 'Iraqi Shi'a, having an opportunity to participate in their government -- really for the first time -- are not about to become subcontractors to the Iranians.'"
Hadley pointed to a speech Bush gave last week in which he gave three elements for victory in Iraq. The first, he said, will be achieved when insurgents and supporters of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein can no longer threaten Iraq's new democracy.
The second and third, he said, are training indigenous security forces and ensuring the Iraq does not become a safe haven for international terrorists.
Hadley said the principal element for victory -- and why Bush mentioned it first -- is securing Iraq's democracy.
"There's a reason that one is first, because in his [Bush's] judgment, helping the Iraqis to establish their own democracy is the enabler for all the rest. And the president has been very clear and I think we [the administration] were very clear before the military action in Iraq that the goal was to liberate Iraq and to help Iraqis to establish a democratic state, a unified Iraq in which all communities would participate."
With more robust American support, he said, and with cooperation from the international community -- particularly Middle Eastern countries -- Iraq can begin truly enjoying life in a democratic country -- and without their former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
The Multinational Force in Iraq on December 15, 2005, released official images of the voting in the legislative elections. To view a slideshow of their photographs, click on the image.
To see RFE/RL's special webpage about the election, click here.