By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 9, 2007 - Despite the debate about how effective and efficient the Iraqi government is, the United States must stay committed to helping Iraq's democracy succeed and become a partner in the war on terror, President Bush said here today. "The fundamental question facing America is, 'Is it worth it?'" Bush said at a White House news conference. "Does it matter whether or not we stay long enough for an ally in this war against radicals and extremists to emerge? My answer is, it does matter. Long-term consequences will face our country if we leave before the job is done."
Failure in Iraq would embolden America's enemies and threaten the short- and long-term security of its citizens, Bush asserted. He admitted that the Iraqi government has not made as much progress on reconciliation and legislation as he had hoped, but he denied that there is a total lack of progress on the political front.
"I fully recognize this is a difficult assignment. It's difficult because of years of tyrannical rule that have created a lot of suspicions," Bush said.
He noted that Iraq has a presidency council, with representatives from different political parties, trying to work through reconciliation issues. The Iraqi government has passed 60 pieces of legislation this year, some that deal directly with reconciliation, and the central government is sharing revenues with the provincial governments, he said.
When asked about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who visited Iran today, Bush said he is confident that Maliki recognizes that Iran is a destabilizing force and is trying to get Iran to play a more constructive role in the region.
The American people should be concerned about Iran, Bush said, because of the government's stated foreign policy and nuclear intentions.
The Iranian government is isolating its people and forcing America and other nations to deny them economic opportunity, Bush said. "My message to the Iranian people is, 'You can do better than this current government. You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential,'" he said.
Bush also talked about Pakistan and that government's cooperation with the U.S. in fighting extremists. Bush said that he has reminded Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that the two countries share a common enemy in terrorists and that the United States expects full cooperation from Pakistan in intelligence sharing.
"I recognize Pakistan is a sovereign nation, and that's important for Americans to recognize that," Bush said. "But it's also important for Americans to understand that he shares the same concern about radicals and extremists as I do and as the American people do."