December 9th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush defends Iraq invasion at West Point farewell

President Bush says farewell to the cadets at West Point.

President Bush says farewell to the cadets at West Point.

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.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. MICK from MESA

    Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are war criminals.

    They sould be lined up in front of a firing squad of cadets, not standing in front of them bragging about his part in an illegal and immoral war that has cost thousands of American military lives...

    December 9, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Chris

    If you repeat/say something, it becomes true!

    You can also link anything... McCain knows Obama therefor McCain is dEMOCRAT!!! OMG!

    December 9, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Debby, NJ

    Why Oh Why does he lie to these Cadets?

    December 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. JaneTexas

    The question is whether Bush will receive the justice he deserves.

    Waiting in Austin for the Village Idiot to Return.

    December 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. reggy

    With a President like this, who needs enemies?

    December 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. James, Ho. TX

    A defeated Iraqi Government 8 yrs prior, and they posed a threat to the U.S.;
    The truth being that You, Bush, were under orders from the PNAC !
    5000 Dead GI's later and the mangled; Thats what your taking back to Dallas on a government Pension. SMU should reject your One room Library!
    The "Dixie Chicks" are absolutely right !

    December 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. mike33

    This guy lied us into a war that killed over hundreds of thousands of people. Firstly, there was not any WMD's, and also there is proof of the Bush admin. coercing the cia to fabricate evidence of WMD's in Iraq! furthermore, by conservative estimates there was about 450 000 civilians dead Iraq, and thousands of soldiers. and never mind abu-gharib, Gitmo, Katrina, and the private contract killers hired from blackwater... and we cant do jack about it, what a democracy!

    December 9, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. LOL at Geeque

    Such a comment coming from someone who lives in a city that is more dangerous than Iraq!! LOL I would be proud of Obama's accomplishments in IL!

    December 9, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Anne E.

    Rovian revisionist history is alive, well, and thriving.
    Bush and his Brain still think that If their lies are repeated enough, people will believe.
    NO MORE, and never again!!!

    December 9, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. REG in AZ

    There seems little doubt, and then only from a small minority of die hard conservative Republicans, that the Bush-Cheney-etal Presidency has been the worst in history yet they remain cocky, arrogant and boldly dishonest while rationalizing all they have done and eagerly seek to benefit from the after office financial considerations (kickbacks). The election of Barack Obama seems to have restored the world's respect in America and America's hope for the future but prosecuting many of those in the Bush admin would still go a long way towards giving a much needed warning to future administrations that they can't dishonestly and self-indulgently just do whatever they want.

    December 9, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Ken in Dallas

    Poor, demented George.

    This seems to be a real psychosis for him.

    He's really gone around the bend, if he's not just lying.

    December 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Chuck

    Did he have a choice? If he told the truth he would be arrested and tried for treason, genocide, and impeached. It still may happen.

    December 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. SA in OO

    Bush's world view is an illusion that was largely created by the neo-cons that surrounded him. Rumsfeld, Cheny, and Wolfowitz, were a lot smarter but came to their belief in the Democracy building approach to changing the way other soveriegn nations (particularly those with oil) should govern, based on thier own ultra-conservative ideologies and no small amount of greed.

    Bush really isn't smart enough to come up with this stuff himself, and frankly wasn't all that interested in thinking much about the bigger issues. He may have liked the idea of being president, he just never really had much interest in doing the job that the title implied.

    So he didn't.

    December 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. coldwar vet~ cal

    George W. Bush will most likely go to his grave thinking he did the right thing invading Iraq. I guess he thinks the majority of the American people are wrong-headed. Mr. President you were wrong, admit it.
    "Denial ain't just a river in Eygpt!" –Mark Twain

    December 9, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Dee

    Thanksfully, none of the haters posting to this blog are actually ATTENDING West Point and headed on to positions of patriotic service...

    December 9, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Elizabeth in Atlanta

    Rumsfeld left the military better equiped? What planet does this moron live on? Rumsfeld "you go to war with the army you have not the army you wish you had? The same Rumsfeld that forced our soldiers to pick through dump piles for the metal to blast-harden their vehicles?
    Just keep on lying, only a few weeks left of this drivel. No matter how many times he tells the lie, Iraq was not involved in 911. He took us out of Afganistan to fight his own private war rather than track down and kill Bin Laden. Were the 4000+ lives of our best and brightest worth this?

    December 9, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |

    Is this idiot still talking. I thought it's jan 20th already...can't wait!

    December 9, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. mike33

    Bush lied to us about WMD's in Iraq, and over 450 000 thousand Iraqi civilians and thousands of troops were killed. guess what?> we can't do a single thing about it. MR. Bush you are an embaressment for all humans!

    December 9, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Ken in NC

    President G.W. Bush still doesn't get it.

    December 9, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. Terry, Butte, Mt

    Just one thing Mr. Bush... IRAQ DID NOT ATTACK US ON 9/11...

    Keep trying to rewrite history, it won't work.

    December 9, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. carol

    Even though he knows it was wrong, he has not got the guts to admit it even now.....especially saying it those West Pointers that was shameful.

    December 9, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. HouseDiva


    December 9, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. indyred

    Mr. Bush,
    What about Iran? Axis of Evil? and all that hooey?

    December 9, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Alex

    Delusional to the end...

    Anyone who thinks that the Iraq invasion wasn't already in the works by the time Dubya was inaugurated needs to start considering some new newsmedia sources.

    December 9, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. CanIcallyouJoe

    There are so many just people who launched preemptive wars...
    Oh, jeez, forgot his name... hold on... man, I can see his face...

    ....Oh! Hitler!

    "'The day will come when they receive the justice they deserve,' Bush said. "

    I'm surprised that statement didn't rip a hole in space-time with the amount of irony it unleashed.

    December 9, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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