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President Bush addressing American Legion

The solution to Iraq isn’t going to be had by a military presence alone, or economic development by itself, or even arranging for a halt to the infighting among the various religious factions there, according to a spokesman for the White House, who said it will take all of those factors together.

President spokesman Tony Snow was responding to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, about what is the most important issue the U.S. must address in working towards a goal of having Iraq standing on its own, and defending itself.

“The president, in addressing the American Legion yesterday, talked about the important of both diplomacy and the need for a robust military strategy in Iraq. And my question: What is the single most important factor in leaving behind, when the U.S. military does leave, an Iraq that will not erupt into a conflagration of terrorist activity?” Kinsolving asked.

“I don’t know. I mean, that’s awfully broad … The fact is that the business of creating peace in Iraq is enormously complex. If you take a look at the way forward, there is a military component, there’s a diplomatic component, including a regional component. There’s political reconciliation, there’s economic development, sectarian reconciliation,” he said.

“So all those pieces are essential. I’m not sure that you can bracket out one and say it, alone, is important – because you pull out one of those lights and the entire edifice can collapse.”

President Bush had told the Legion the battle is an “ideological struggle.”

“On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation – the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism – the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest,” he said.

“As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They’re successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century,” he said. “We believe that freedom is a gift from an almighty God, beyond any power of Earth to take away.”

The sectarian violence of recent weeks in Iraq is just the latest effort by terrorists to return Iraq to all-out war, he said. He noted that 12 million Iraqis defied car bombers and killers to proclaim their desire for freedom through elections.

“We can decide to stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq and other parts of the world, but they will not decide to stop fighting us. General John Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East region, recently put it this way: ‘If we leave, they will follow us.’ And he is right.”

Bush said the veterans know what it takes to win. “For all that is new about this war, one thing has not changed: Victory still depends on the courage and the patience and the resolve of the American people. Above all, it depends on patriots who are willing to fight for freedom.”

Kinsolving also asked about the justice of the prison term potential for former Vice President Dick Cheney’s aide Scooter Libby, in light of the fact that former Bill Clinton aide Sandy Berger improperly took – and disposed of – classified documents but faced no prison time.

Libby this week was convicted of lying to investigators about his conversations regarding Valerie Plame, the spouse of U.S. ambassador Joe Wilson. Plame is employed by the CIA.

“As the president’s chief media advisor, can you tell us, Tony, so you honestly believe that the bulk of the American people will conclude that real justice exists in the United States if Scooter Libby goes to prison, while Sandy Berger doesn’t?”

“Oh, my goodness. Thank you, Les,” he said.

“You just want to evade – that’s newsworthy,” Kinsolving said.

“If you wish to characterize the non-answer of a crazy question as an evasion, I will plead guilty,” Snow said.

“You think it’s crazy?”

“Because what you’re asking me to do is to come up with a global analysis of people’s assessment on the character of the system of justice based on two things that have not happened,” Snow said. “Let me put it this way: I don’t think a lot of people are sitting around their dinner tables, saying, let’s think about these two things – wow, honey, we really think about the system of justice; pass the mashed potatoes.”



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