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. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    December 9, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. NY republican

    wow, and to think I was almost convinced that it was the Republicans that were the "haters".

    December 9, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Ms. B in California

    see, this is how he got re-elected in the first place. He confused 52% of Americans into thinking that Iraq was the reason why September happened. Just a confused old man who should have never had the position of President. No common sense whatsoever.

    December 9, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Blue Proctor

    This simian in human clothing is still delusional. What planet has he been living on? The disconnect is total, the stupidity astounding, the disgrace...just go away or be tried for treason and all your criminal cadre of usurpers of power. Enough already!

    December 9, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Angel

    I defend...i regret..i defend..i regret...make up your mind Sir

    December 9, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Erick

    I agree it HAS NOTHING to do with 9/11. He should just admit he was wrong and that he and Cheney had the Iraq war planned when they were inagurated in 2000.

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

    Military schools are the only place he could get favorable applause from an audience. Bush should be humiliated with his record, he has shown his incompetence to the entire world. Bush has taken a healthy nation after Bill Clinton's administration, and thrown us into a political pit that has left Americans in more danger at home, and abroad more than at any time since I was born (1960). Even Nixon, and Carter rate better than GWBush. It was last week that I read a comment from a political junkie that has remained with me. "Bush should be buried with a raincoat because of the rush of Americans ready to piss on his grave". He, and Cheney have both earned this honor, only I'd rather do it while they're still conscious.

    December 9, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Ana

    I though West Point students were a little smarter to believe this IDIOT.
    But perhaps, Bush knew exactly what he was doing by taking advantage of 9/11 in order to attack a country that had nothing to do with it (Iraq). and WE are the real idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    By the way, George Bush, you are THE REAL TERRORIST!!!

    December 9, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. larry buchas

    Then he should have been like Teddy Roosevelt. He could have set the example going there himself and leading the charge!

    December 9, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Jeff

    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.

    Sadly, you had close to 8 years to find them and you couldn't (didn't!). Hopefully, for once, you told the truth when you said you weren't concerned about your legacy because it will be one of the worst!

    December 9, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. President Obama/VA

    He had no credible evidence to go to war. There were just a bunch of made up stories about yellow cake as the movie "W' suggest. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are war criminals. I can't wait until this economy gets back on track. I bet your bottom dollar that the new Atty General, Eric Holder, under President Obama's orders will bring war crime charges against the Bush Administration. They are not getting off that easy. They sent this country to war under false pretenses. Bush was out for revenge on Saddam for trying to kill has "poppa," oil and control of the region. On top of that, Colin Powell will nost definitely testify against that terrorist regime called the Bush Administration.

    December 9, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan are all linked you fools. Stop spewing liberal media sound bites without thinking first. The entire region is insecure, it has been for thousands of years, no surprise there. Terrorists move freely between all of these countries and smuggle weapons across their borders all the time.
    Having a ruthless dictator like Saddam in a central country wasn't helping things any. If you'd like to pretend that keeping saddam was a better choice, you have serious moral issues. He was oppressing the people of the country and killing thousands. The majority of the people still ive in fear there of a few who are struggling for power. But I guess you think it's ok to ignore all of those people because getting involved would inconvenience you, or cause some suffering for the people of the US. Stop thinking of yourselves for once.

    December 9, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |


    December 9, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Honest American

    Who cares what this man has to say...bye bye ..Americas worst president...

    December 9, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Noah

    Ed A. – You are either ignorant, lying, or intellectually bankrupt. Bush did not try to link 9-11 and Iraq. What he said was that after the 9-11 attacks we would be on the offensive against nations who were a threat and who had the means to carry out the threat. Iraq, according to the intelligence at the time (from our CIA and corroborated by France and Russian intelligence) was such a threat. That is the connection. Get it?

    December 9, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Dr. Stoner

    Speaking of white collar criminals, guess who !!!!!

    December 9, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. lori

    Only he would defend something like that!!!

    December 9, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Leviticus

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

    When will the day come when you receive the justice you deserve?... pathetic excuse for a president...

    December 9, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. Castro

    The day will also come when all your top officials would see justice as well, but maybe they'll receive a pardon before even being charged.

    December 9, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Jim

    sinking deeper and deeper.... until lost, in a fanstasy world of spin....

    December 9, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Rob

    George W. Bush is a piece of garbage. He is a war criminal, terrorist and inhumane.

    December 9, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. proud army and navy mom

    I cannot imagine why Bush is trying to defend his lies and deceptions.

    Is there anybody that believes a word that comes out of lying mouth?

    oh yeah, I forgot I live in TN and we have loads of idiots that still believes him.....funny they are the same ones who voted for pushup bra Palin.

    December 9, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. MrObvious

    One of Bush's pardons will be for himself.

    December 9, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. pat o'brien

    George Bush has taken this country to its knees. Our credability iin the world, our economy in the tank, abuse of power, a war based on lies. No doubt the worst president and he stills sees himself as doing the right thing. I can't figure out if he is insane, stupid or sociopath. Probably all three. I wish he and Cheney could be made to pay for their crimes but alas our time can be better spent trying to undo the damage this administration has done to our once great nation.

    December 9, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. Phil in KC

    OK – he was wrong then and he's still wrong. And deluded. The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or the terrorists. He still wants us to believe that? No wonder his approval rating is in the toilet.

    December 9, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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