Power Line friends Pete Hegseth of Vets for Freedom and Eric Egland (“Major E.”) of The Troops Need You, America! were part of a group of veterans and military families who met with President Bush this morning. They met to urge support for our armed forces and the successful completion of their mission in Iraq. Afterward President Bush made a brief statement in the Rose Garden with Pete, Eric and others in attendance including Merrilee Carlson, Ron Griffin, Chief Warrant Officer Pat Ivory, USN (Ret.), Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Terri Ivory, USN (Ret.), Becky Davis, Captain Knox Nunnally, USMC (Ret.), Sergeant Mike Seavey, USA National Guard (Ret.), and Lieutenant Wade Zirkle, USMC (Ret.). The president quoted Major E. saying, “We live in the world’s oldest democracy and have been blessed with the strength to protect our freedoms and to help others who seek the same.” Here is part of the president’s statement:
Like all wars, the fight in Iraq has had frustrating setbacks. It has also had important successes. We’ve seen dramatic turnarounds in places such as Anbar province, which was once thought lost to the enemy. Just this week, our military forces announced the capture of one of al Qaeda’s top Iraqi leaders. He helped to form what al Qaeda calls the Islamic State in Iraq, in an attempt to replicate what the Taliban had created in Afghanistan. Today that leader is under arrest, and his followers are under siege.
These successes demonstrate the gains our troops are making in Iraq, and the importance of giving our military the time they need to give their new strategy a chance to work.
Earlier this year, the Senate seemed to share that view. They confirmed General David Petraeus as commander of our forces without a single dissenting vote. And now, barely a month after his strategy became fully operational, many of those same senators are saying that that strategy has failed.
Our nation deserves a serious debate about Iraq, because the outcome of this conflict will have enormous consequences for our country. Failure in Iraq would allow terrorists to operate from a safe haven with access to the world’s third largest oil reserves. Failure in Iraq would increase the probability that at some later date, American troops would have to return to Iraq to confront an enemy more dangerous and more entrenched. Failure in Iraq would send an unmistakable signal to America’s enemies that our country can be bullied into retreat.
I spoke with Pete after he left the White House meeting this morning. The group met with with the president in the Oval Office for an hour. He said they sought to reassure the president that the troops still want to win and finish the job they were sent to do. He said the president emphasized that he was looking at the long-term national security interests of the United States and would not be swayed by the polls of the day.