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Bush Holds Firm on Iraq War

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen.

Coming up on this fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, we'll continue our conversation with General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and Coalition forces there.

CHADWICK: First, President Bush observed today's anniversary with a speech about the Iraq War at the Pentagon. The president's popularity has suffered, in large part because of the conflict, and he spoke to that.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Five years into this battle there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it. The answers are clear to me. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision and this is a fight America can and must win.

COHEN: Most of his speech, though, was about successes in Iraq. Democracy, he said, is rising from the rubble of Saddam Hussein's tyranny.

CHADWICK: And despite the many calls to get out of Iraq, the president urged patience. Things are improving, he said, especially since the surge.

President BUSH: There's still hard work to be done in Iraq. The gains we have made are fragile and reversible. But on this anniversary the American people should know that since the surge began the level of violence is significantly down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down, attacks on American forces are down. We have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al-Qaida leaders and operatives. Our men and women in uniform are performing with characteristic honor and valor. The surge is working.

COHEN: As the president spoke, a group of 100 or so veterans gathered on the Mall in Washington D.C. to protest the war. A new CBS poll shows that two-thirds of Americans believe the war has not been worth what it has cost. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.