They are doing that by building the institutions of a free society -- a
society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion
and equal justice under law.
The Iraqis have held free elections and established a transitional national
assembly. The next step is to write a good constitution that enshrines these
freedoms in permanent law.
The assembly plans to expand its constitutional drafting committee to
include more Sunni Arabs. Many Sunnis who opposed the January elections are
now taking part in the democratic process, and that is essential to Iraq's
By taking these critical steps and meeting their deadlines, Iraqis will bind
their multiethnic society together in a democracy that respects the will of
the majority and protects minority rights.
As Iraqis grow confident that the democratic progress they are making is
real and permanent, more will join the political process.
And as Iraqis see that their military can protect them, more will step
forward with vital intelligence to help defeat the enemies of a free Iraq.
As Iraqis make progress toward a free society, the effects are being felt
beyond Iraq's borders.
Before our coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear
weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear
Across the broader Middle East, people are claiming their freedom. In the
last few months, we have witnessed elections in the Palestinian Territories
and Lebanon. These elections are inspiring democratic reformers in places
like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Our strategy to defend ourselves and spread freedom is working.
The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that
feed radicalism and ideologies of murder and make our nation safer.
We are fighting against men with blind hatred and armed with lethal weapons
who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws
of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the
They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our
will on September 11, 2001. They will fail.
The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter
under threat, and we will not allow our future to be determined by car
bombers and assassins.
America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us.
We accept these burdens because we know what is at stake.
We fight today because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital
region of the world, and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph
over radicalism and terror.
And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill
our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand.
So we'll fight them there, we'll fight them across the world, and we will
stay in the fight until the fight is won.
America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for
independence to the darkest days of a civil war to the hard-fought battles
against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our
heart, our nerve or our way.
But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in
certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength
and audacity and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is
hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage. And we know that
this great ideal of human freedom entrusted to us in a special way and that
the ideal of liberty is worth defending.
I thank our military families. The burden of war falls especially hard on
In this war, we have lost good men and women who left our shores to defend
freedom and did not live to make the journey home.
I've met with families grieving the loss of loved ones who were taken from
us too soon. I've been inspired by their strength in the face of such great
We pray for the families. And the best way to honor the lives that have been
given in this struggle is to complete the mission.
I thank those of you who've re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs
We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to
serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking
their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our
When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan
and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the
story of freedom.
After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead
would be difficult and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult
and we are prevailing.
Our enemies are brutal, but they are no match for the United States of
America, and they are no match for the men and women of the United States
May God bless you all.
Thank you very much.