Bush Warns Failure in Iraq Would Be “Grievous and Far Reaching”

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - There is still time for the United States to help to shape the outcome of the conflict in Iraq, President Bush said, adding that allowing extremists to seize control of the country would be tantamount to ignoring the lessons of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon New York and Washington.

Bush, speaking in his annual State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress in Washington on January 23, said “the consequences of failure [in Iraq] would be grievous and far reaching.”

“We did not drive al-Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq,” he said.  “To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11th and invite tragedy.”

The president said the United States is engaged in a “generational struggle” against terrorism, and others in the world are looking to see whether it will help moderates and reformers build free societies.  “Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies – and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance,” he said. 

He urged U.S. lawmakers to back his new strategy designed to support Iraq’s democratically elected government. (See related article.)

“This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in.  Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won.  Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk,” he said.

Bush reminded Congress that the United States is not alone in the struggle against extremism.  Working with the United Nations, NATO, and partner countries in the Middle East and around the world, he said there is international cooperation to bring peace between Israel and Palestinians, achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and confront threats such as Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, and the resurgence of Taliban forces in Afghanistan.


On energy, Bush proposed lowering the U.S. consumption of gasoline by 20 percent within 10 years by replacing current fuel sources with alternatives, such as corn ethanol, and increasing the efficiency of cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

He called for a mandatory fuels standard to require the production of 35 billion gallons (133 billion liters) of renewable and alternative fuels, and modernized fuel economy standards for cars that would conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons (32.3 billion liters) of gasoline by 2017.

The United States is “on the verge of technological breakthroughs” in energy that “will help us become better stewards of the environment – and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change,” he said.


Bush also discussed U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  The $15 billion program is supporting treatment for 2 million people over five years, and especially targets countries in Africa and Asia.

In addition, he urged continued funding for the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), a five-year, $1.2 billion joint program with the private sector that seeks to cut the mortality rate from malaria by 50 percent in 15 of the hardest-hit African countries.

“To whom much is given, much is required.  We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger, poverty, and disease – and that is precisely what America is doing,” he said.

The president also renewed his call for comprehensive immigration reform, including the creation of a temporary worker program for some non-U.S. residents who are already in the country. 

“We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals.  And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country – without animosity and without amnesty,” he said.

The president’s speech marked the first time he addressed a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party.  In congratulating the Democrats, Bush called for bipartisan cooperation, saying “we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people.”

For additional details, see the full text of the president’s speech.