Following are excerpts of President Bush's speech last night at Fort Bragg, N.C.:
The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. The terrorists who attack us -- and the terrorists we face -- murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent. Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression -- by toppling governments, driving us out of the region and exporting terror. . . .
The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent and with a few hard blows they can force us to retreat. They are mistaken. After September 11, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy.
Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. . . .
Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down the terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We're advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability -- and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.
The work in Iraq is difficult, and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying -- and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. . . .
Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others . . .
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. . . . The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened, or defeated. . . .
The terrorists -- both foreign and Iraqi -- failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty. They failed to break our coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq's diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large numbers with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.
The lesson of this experience is clear: The terrorists can kill the innocent -- but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like [Abu Musab] Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like [Osama] bin Laden. For the sake of our nation's security, this will not happen on my watch. . . .
In the past year, we have made significant progress: One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
In January 2005, more than eight million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair -- and took place on time.
We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. . . .
Finally, we have continued our efforts to equip and train Iraqi security forces. We have made gains in both the number and quality of those forces. Today, Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions. . . .
To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents. To complete the mission, we will prevent al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban: a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends. And the best way to complete the mission is to help Iraqis build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. . . .
Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. . . .
I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed and not a day longer. . . .
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 weapons programs. 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 fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won. . . .
This Fourth of July, I ask you to find a way to thank the men and women defending our freedom by flying the flag, sending letters to our troops in the field or helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a Web site, americasupportsyou.mil. You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, let us stand with the men and women who defend us all. . . .