WEST POINT, New York (CNN) - With his days in office dwindling and
criticism of his record mounting, an unapologetic President Bush strongly defended his administration's foreign and defense policies - including his controversial decision to invade Iraq and the tenure of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - in an address Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
"Within weeks of September the 11th, our armed forces began taking the fight to the terrorists around the world," Bush said to an assembly of West Point cadets. "And we have not stopped."
Bush asserted that, in the more than seven years since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the U.S. and its allies had "applied the full range of military and intelligence assets" to "severely weaken" terrorist networks and kill hundreds of al Qaeda leaders.
At the same time, however, he conceded that the military and the incoming Obama administration will face a volatile situation in a number of hot spots around the globe in the years ahead - particularly along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where "ungoverned spaces" remain a safe haven for a significant number of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.
"We have made it clear to Pakistan and to all our partners that we will do what is necessary to protect American troops and the American people," said Bush, who has been criticized by the Pakistani government for launching missile attacks against suspected terrorist targets inside the country's borders.
President-elect Barack Obama has also indicated a willingness to strike "high value" targets inside Pakistan if the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to act.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have been further strained in the wake of last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. The Bush administration has insisted that Pakistan - a historic rival of India - cooperate in the investigation of the attacks.
Pakistan has denied any role in the incident, which resulted in deaths of more than 160 people. Indian officials have blamed Pakistani militants.
Reviewing what was arguably his most significant decision as president, Bush defended the invasion of Iraq - a move that came under withering criticism at home and abroad after pre-war intelligence showing Iraq in possession of weapons of mass destruction proved to be incorrect.
"We took a hard look at the danger posed by Iraq," Bush argued. "After seeing the destruction of September 11, we concluded that America could not afford to allow a regime with such a threatening and violent record to remain in the heart of the Middle East."
Bush said that while the war in Iraq has been "longer and more difficult than expected," the administration's so-called "surge" strategy had worked and that the recently concluded security agreement with the Iraqi government had "set a framework for the drawdown of American forces as the fight in Iraq nears a successful end."
At the same time, Bush defended one of the primary architects of the Iraq war - the much-maligned former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - by arguing that Rumsfeld was responsible for leading a transformation of the military that has left the armed forces "better trained, better equipped and better prepared to meet the threats facing America today, and tomorrow and long in the future."
Bush also promised that al Qaeda's top leaders would eventually be punished for their role in the September 11 attacks and the conflicts that followed.
"The day will come when they receive the justice they deserve," Bush said.
Liar Liar Pants Afire!
But Bush and Rumsfeld will probably never face the justice they deserve.
Justice dealt out by The Hague.
America's best and brightest willing to sacrifice their lives and that Bush vampire willing to take it from them.
One would think that between him and rumsfeld/cheney and the rest of his "people" that being a constant reminder of such a costly ,ill-informed (some call an outright lie),blunder,that has cost the lives of so many.......he would choose anything else to talk about.
What an Idiot ! The Worst President of The United States, you belong to jail Mr. War Criminal.
Just another nail in the G.W. legacy coffin, defending Rumsfeld. Bush will go down in history as worst president EVER.
an arrogant jerk to the very end.....
Goes to show you that if you say something often enough, you come to belive it, regardless of how rediculous it is.
idiot king bush is still connecting the dots with iraq and 9-11!! he's a total sociopath!!
too bad your not going to be the one to distribute that justice, hope you cry yourself to sleep you coward
George W. Bush continues to attempt to link Iraq and the September 11 attacks.
Is this a case of, "if said enough, it will become true"?
Saddam Hussein, Iraq and the September 11 attacks are NOT linked.
Please Mr. President, enough!
Interesting that, yet once again, Bush changes his tune on what his impetus was for invading Iraq in an attempt to defend his administration's unlawful actions.
"The day will come when they receive the justice they deserve..."
Mr President, sir, we can only hope that the Justice Department will indeed ensure you all receive the justice you rightly deserve. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence clearly pointing to the guilt of you, VP Cheney, SoS Rice, and former SoD Rumsfeld, among many others who so blatantly lied to Congress, the American people, and the world.
What this country needs now is someone who will be as rabid in the pursuit of this as Kenneth Starr was in pursuing the previous administration.
Bush is an arrogant JERK to the very end....
"September 11, we concluded that America could not afford to allow a regime with such a threatening and violent record to remain in the heart of the Middle East."
Violent Record huh?
Gee Mr Bush... the most violent record for any country in the middle east is........... you guessed it
why didnt we invade them?
It's been 7 years since 911........when exactly do you expect that "punishment" day to come Mr. President?
Sorry buddy, won't stand, we live in the era of technology. All that has happened was done with the eye of the media and internet always on. History will be harder to re-write now.
We are learning more and more about Bush's administration, now that it is coming to an end. We are learning they did absolutely nothing to protect our young people who have volunteered their lives for 'his' war.
Good riddance Gov. Bush...
Bush still loves to use our troops as props and backdrops. He is the most pathetic human on this planet.
It still amazes me this man can look these and former young people in the eye, knowing some will soon be victims of his elective war.
Should have been Bush arrested at 6am today along with the Illinois governer. We all know his crimes.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Wolfowitz etc... are War Criminals. History should remember then as such.
Mr President, you have done what Al-Qaida has been trying to do forever. You have brought the United States of America to its knees. So long, Mr. Failure. Please try not to cry as President Obama restores our country back to what it once was, before you had to come along.
Too bad he lacks the self-esteem to own the mistakes he made.
More empty promises and continued coverups to a most disasterous president and administration. The country and the world will be much better off if, and when, you just "GO AWAY" and are NEVER heard from again. I heard they're in the market for a "bafoon" at the San Diego Zoo. Hope you get the job, you deserve it!
It was recklessly handled. It could have been smoother had we 100% committed enough resources to fight to win.