Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq

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THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, please be seated.

To General Hejlik, for the outstanding work that he is

doing, thank you so much.

Good morning, Marines.

AUDIENCE: Ooh-rah!

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, Camp Lejeune.

AUDIENCE: Ooh-rah!

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning Jacksonville.

(Applause.)

Thank you so much for the extraordinarily warm welcome.

Just a few additional people I want to note are here: Governor

Bev Perdue of North Carolina -- where is Governor Perdue?

Stand up, please (Applause.)

We have the new United States Senator from North Carolina, Kay

Hagan (Applause.)

Members of the North Carolina congressional delegation who are

here today -- please stand and wave.

(Applause.)

And thank you, Staff Sergeant Mink, for the outstanding

rendition of our National Anthem.

(Applause.)

I also want to acknowledge all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen

and Marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And that includes the Camp Lejeune Marines now serving with

-- or soon joining -- the Second Marine Expeditionary Force in

Iraq; those with Special Purpose Marine Air Force -- Air Ground

Task Force in Afghanistan; and those among the 8,000 Marines

who are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

We have you in our prayers.

We pay tribute to your service.

We thank you and your families for all that you do for America.

And I want you all to know that there is no higher honor or

greater responsibility than serving as your

Commander-in-Chief.

Thanks to all of you.

(Applause.)

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Ryan

Crocker, who recently completed his service as our Ambassador to

Iraq.

This is one of the unsung heroes of this multi-year effort.

Throughout his career, Ryan has always taken on the toughest

assignments.

He is an example of the very best that this nation has to

offer, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude.

He carried on his work with an extraordinary degree of

cooperation with two of our finest Generals -- General David

Petraeus, and General Ray Odierno -- who will be critical

in carrying forward the strategy that I will outline today.

Next month will mark the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq

By any measure, this has already been a long war.

For the men and women of America's armed forces -- and

for your families -- the war has been one of the most

extraordinary chapters of service in the history of our

nation.

Many of you have endured tour after tour after tour of duty.

You've known the dangers of combat and the lonely distance

from loved ones.

You have fought against tyranny and disorder.

You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis.

And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens,

while extending a precious opportunity to the people of

Iraq.

Under tough circumstances, the men and women of the United

States military have served with honor, and succeeded beyond any

expectation.

Today, I've come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will

end.

To understand where we need to go in Iraq, it's important for

the American people to understand where we now stand.

Thanks in great measure to your service, and your sacrifice and

your family's sacrifices, the situation in Iraq has improved.

Violence has been reduced substantially from the horrific

sectarian killing of 2006 and 2007.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has been dealt a serious blow by our troops and

Iraq's security forces, and through our partnership with

Sunni Arabs.

The capacity of Iraq's security forces has improved, and Iraq's

leaders have taken steps towards political accommodation.

The relative peace and strong participation in January's

provincial elections sent a powerful message to the world

about how far Iraqis have come in pursuing their aspirations

through a peaceful political process.

But let there be no doubt: Iraq is not yet secure, and there

will be difficult days ahead.

Violence will continue to be a part of life in Iraq.

Too many fundamental political questions about Iraq's future

remain unresolved.

Too many Iraqis are still displaced or destitute.

Declining oil revenues will put an added strain on a government

that has difficulty delivering basic service.

Not all of Iraq's neighbors are contributing to its security.

Some are working at times to undermine it.

And even as Iraq's government is on a surer footing, it is not

yet a full partner -- politically and economically --

in the region, or with the international community.

In short, today there is a renewed cause for hope in Iraq,

but that hope is resting on an emerging foundation.

On my first full day in office, I directed my national security

team to undertake a comprehensive review of our

strategy in Iraq to determine the best way to strengthen that

foundation, while strengthening American national security.

I've listened to my Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.

I've listened to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by Admiral

Mullen, as well as the commanders on the ground.

We have acted with careful consideration of events on the

ground, with respect for the security agreements between the

United States and Iraq, and with a critical recognition that the

long-term solution in Iraq must be political -- not military.

Because the most important decisions that have to be made

about Iraq's future must now be made by Iraqis.

We've also taken into account the simple reality that America

can no longer afford to see Iraq in isolation from other

priorities: We face the challenge of refocusing on

Afghanistan and Pakistan; of relieving the burden of our

military and military families; of rebuilding our struggling

economy.

These are challenges that we must meet and will meet.

Today, I can announce that our review is complete, and that the

United States will pursue a new strategy to end the war in Iraq

through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility.

This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared

by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is

sovereign, stable, and self-reliant.

To achieve that goal, we will work to promote an Iraqi

government that is just, representative, and accountable,

and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to

terrorists.

We will help Iraq build new ties of trade and commerce with the

world.

And we will forge a partnership with the people and government

of Iraq that contributes to the peace and security of the

region.

But understand this, we -- here's what we will not do: We

will not let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of

achievable goals.

We cannot rid Iraq of every single individual who opposes

America or sympathizes with our adversaries.

We cannot police Iraq's streets indefinitely until they are

completely safe, nor can we stay until Iraq's union is perfect.

We cannot sustain indefinitely a commitment that has put a strain

on our military, and will cost the American people nearly a

trillion dollars.

America's men and women in uniform -- so many of you --

have fought block by block, province by province, year after

year, to give the Iraqis this chance to choose a better

future.

Now we must ask the Iraqi people to seize it.

The first part of this strategy is therefore the responsible

removal of our combat brigades from Iraq.

As a candidate for President, I made clear my support for a

timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while

pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon

taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we've made

and to protect our troops.

These consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a

timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next

18 months.

So let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our

combat mission in Iraq will end (Applause.)

As we carry out this drawdown, my highest priority will be the

safety and security of our troops and civilians in Iraq.

So we will proceed carefully, and I will consult closely with

my military commanders on the ground and with the Iraqi

government.

There will surely be difficult periods and tactical

adjustments.

But our enemies should be left with no doubt: This plan gives

our military the forces and flexibility they need to support

our Iraqi partners, and to succeed.

After we remove our combat brigades, our mission will

change from combat to supporting the Iraqi government and its

security forces as they take the absolute lead in securing their

country.

As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to

carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping,

and advising Iraqi security forces as long as they remain

non-sectarian; conducting targeted counterterrorism

missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military

efforts within Iraq.

Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35,000 to

50,000 U.S. troops

Through this period of transition, we will carry out

further redeployments.

And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi

government, I intend to remove all U.S.

troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

(Applause.)

So we will complete this transition to Iraqi

responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the

honor that they have earned.

As we remove our combat brigades we will pursue the second part

of our strategy: sustained diplomacy on behalf of a more

peaceful and prosperous Iraq.

The drawdown of our military should send a clear signal that

Iraq's future is now its own responsibility.

The long-term success of the Iraqi nation will depend on

decisions made by Iraq's leaders and the fortitude of the Iraqi

people.

Iraq is a sovereign country with legitimate institutions; America

cannot -- and should not -- take their place.

However, a strong political, diplomatic, and civilian effort

on our part can advance progress and help lay a foundation for

lasting peace and security.

This effort will be led by our new Ambassador to Iraq,

Chris Hill.

From his time in the Peace Corps to his work in Kosovo and Korea,

Ambassador Hill has been tested and he has shown the pragmatism

and skill that we need right now.

And he will be supported by the courageous and capable work of

so many American diplomats and aid workers who are now serving

in Iraq.

Going forward, we can make a difference on several fronts.

We will work with the United Nations to support national

elections, while helping Iraqis improve local government.

We can serve as an honest broker in pursuit of fair and durable

agreements on issues that have divided Iraq's leaders.

And just as we will support Iraq's security forces, we will

help Iraq's institutions strengthen their capacity to

protect the rule of law, confront corruption, and deliver

basic services.

Diplomacy and assistance is also required to help millions of

displaced Iraqis.

These men, women and children are living -- are a living

consequence of this war and a challenge to stability in the

region, and they must be a part of Iraq's reconciliation and

recovery.

America has a strategic interest -- and a moral responsibility --

to act.

And in the coming months, my administration will provide more

assistance and take steps to increase international support

for countries already hosting refugees; we'll cooperate with

others to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk; and we will

work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle refugees

and displaced Iraqis within Iraq -- because there are few more

powerful indicators of lasting peace than when displaced

citizens return home.

Now, before I go any further, I want to take a moment to speak

directly to the people of Iraq.

You are a great nation, rooted in the cradle of civilization

You are joined together by enduring accomplishments, and a

history that connects you as surely as the two rivers carved

into your land.

In years past, you have persevered through tyranny and

terror; through personal insecurity and sectarian

violence.

And instead of giving in to the forces of disunion, you stepped

back from a descent into civil war, and showed a proud

resilience that deserves our respect.

Our nations have known difficult times together.

But ours is a bond forged by shared bloodshed, and countless

friendships among our people.

We Americans have offered our most precious resource -- our

young men and women -- to work with you to rebuild what was

destroyed by despotism; to root out our common enemies; and to

seek peace and prosperity for our children and grandchildren,

and for yours.

There are those who will try to prevent that future for Iraq --

who will insist that Iraq's differences cannot be reconciled

without more killing.

They represent the forces that destroy nations and lead only to

despair, and they will test our will in the months and years to

come.

America, too, has known these forces.

We endured the pain of Civil War, and bitter divisions of

region and race.

But hostility and hatred are no match for justice; they offer no

pathway to peace; and they must not stand between the people of

Iraq and a future of reconciliation and hope.

So to the Iraqi people, let me be clear about America's

intentions.

The United States pursues no claim on your territory or your

resources.

We respect your sovereignty and the tremendous sacrifices you

have made for your country.

We seek a full transition to Iraqi responsibility for the

security of your country.

And going forward, we can build a lasting relationship founded

upon mutual interests and mutual respect as Iraq takes its

rightful place in the community of nations.

That leads me to the third part of our strategy -- comprehensive

American engagement across the region.

The future of Iraq is inseparable from the future of

the broader Middle East, so we must work with our friends and

partners to establish a new framework that advances Iraq's

security and the region's.

It's time for Iraq to be a full partner in regional dialogue,

and for Iraq's neighbors to establish productive and

normalized relations with Iraq.

And going forward, the United States will pursue principled

and sustained engagement with all of the nations in the region

-- all the nations in the region -- and that, by the way, will

include Iran and Syria.

This reflects a fundamental truth: We can no longer deal

with regional challenges in isolation -- we need a smarter,

more sustainable and comprehensive approach.

That is why we are renewing our diplomacy, while relieving the

burden on our military.

That is why we are refocusing on al Qaeda in Afghanistan and

Pakistan; developing a strategy to use all elements of American

power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon; and

actively seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Arab

world.

And that is why we have named three of America's most

accomplished diplomats -- George Mitchell, Dennis Ross, and

Richard Holbrooke -- to support Secretary Hillary Clinton and

myself as we carry forward this agenda.

Every nation and every group must know -- whether you wish

America good or ill -- that the end of the war in Iraq will

enable a new era of American leadership and engagement in the

Middle East.

This does not lessen our commitment.

We are going to be enhancing that commitment to bring about a

better day in that region, and that era has just begun.

Finally, I want to be very clear about my strategy -- that my

strategy for ending the war in Iraq does not end with military

plans or diplomatic agendas; it endures through our commitment

to uphold the sacred trust with every man and woman who has

served in Iraq.

You make up a fraction of the American population, but in an

age when so many people and institutions have acted

irresponsibly, so many of you did the opposite -- you

volunteered to bear the heaviest burden.

(Applause.)

You volunteered to bear the heaviest burden.

And for you and your families, the war does not end when you

come home.

It lives on in the memories of your fellow soldiers, sailors,

airmen and Marines who gave their lives.

It endures in the wound that is slow to heal, the disability

that isn't going away, the dream that wakes you up at night, the

stiffening in your spine when a car backfires down the street.

You and your families have done your duty -- now a grateful

nation must do ours.

(Applause.)

That is why, as reflected in my new budget, I am increasing

the number of soldiers and Marines, so that we lessen the

burden on those who are serving.

That is why I've committed to expanding our system of veterans

health care to serve more patients, and to provide better

care in more places.

(Applause.)

We will continue building new wounded warrior facilities

across America -- (applause) -- and invest in new ways of

identifying and treating the signature wounds of this war:

post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, as

well as other combat injuries (Applause.)

We also know that service does not end with the person wearing

the uniform.

In her visits with military families across the country, my

wife Michelle has learned firsthand about the unique

burden that your families endure every day.

I want you to know this: Military families are a top

priority for Michelle and me, and they will be a top priority

for my administration.

(Applause.)

We will raise military pay and continue providing -- (applause)

-- I figured that'd be an applause line.

(Laughter.)

We're going to continue providing quality child care,

job training for spouses, and expanded counseling and outreach

to families that have known the separation and stress of war

(Applause.)

We will also heed the lesson of history -- that those who

fight in battle can form the backbone of our middle class --

by implementing a 21st-century GI bill to help our veterans

live out their dreams.

(Applause.)

As a nation, we've had our share of debates about the war

in Iraq.

It has, at times, divided us as a people.

To this very day, there are some Americans who want to stay in

Iraq longer, and some who want to leave faster.

But there should be no disagreement on what the men and

women of our military have achieved.

And so I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do

away with Saddam Hussein's regime -- and you got the job

done.

(Applause.)

We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign

government -- and you got the job done.

(Applause.)

And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned

opportunity to live a better life -- that is your

achievement; that is the prospect that you have made

possible.

There are many lessons to be learned from what we've

experienced.

We have learned that America must go to war with clearly

defined goals, which is why I've ordered a review of our policy

in Afghanistan.

We have learned that we must always weigh the costs of

action, and communicate those costs candidly to the American

people, which is why I've put Iraq and Afghanistan into my

budget.

We have learned that the 21st -- in the 21st century we have to

use all elements of American power to achieve our objectives,

which is why I'm committed to building our civilian national

security capacity so that the burden is not continually pushed

onto our military.

We have learned that our political leaders must pursue

the broad and bipartisan support that our national security

policies depend on, which is why I will consult with Congress in

carrying out my plans.

And we have learned the importance of working closely

with friends and allies, which is why we are launching a new

era of engagement and diplomacy in the world.

The starting point for our policies must always be the

safety and security of the American people.

I know that you -- the men and women of the finest fighting

force in the history of the world -- can meet any challenge,

and defeat any foe.

And as long as I am your Commander-in-Chief, I promise

you that I will only send you into harm's way when it is

absolutely necessary, and provide you with the equipment

and support you need to get the job done.

(Applause.)

That is the most important lesson of all, for the

consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable.

You know because you've seen those sacrifices.

You've lived them.

And we all honor you for them.

"Semper Fidelis" -- (applause) -- it means always being

faithful to the Corps, and to country, and to the memory of

fallen comrades like Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal

Jordan Haerter.

(Applause.)

These young men enlisted in a time of war, knowing they would

face great danger.

They came here, to Camp Lejeune, as they trained for their

mission.

Last April, they were standing guard in Anbar.

In an age when suicide is a weapon, they were suddenly faced

with an oncoming truck filled with explosives.

These two Marines stood their ground These two Marines opened

fire.

These two Marines stopped that truck.

When the thousands of pounds of explosives detonated, they had

saved 50 fellow Marines, they had saved Iraqi police who would

have been in the truck's path -- but Corporal Yale and Lance

Corporal Haerter lost their own lives.

Jonathan was 21, and Jordan was 19.

In the town where Jordan Haerter was from, a bridge was dedicated

in his name.

One Marine who traveled to the ceremony said: "We flew here

from all over the country to pay tribute to our friend Jordan,

who risked his life to save us.

We wouldn't be here without him.

" America's time in Iraq is filled with stories of men and

women like this.

Their names are written into the bridges and town squares of this

country.

They are etched into stone at Arlington, and in quiet places

of rest across our land.

They are spoken in schools and on city blocks.

They live on in the memories of those who wear your uniform, in

the hearts of those they loved, and in the freedom of the nation

they served.

Each American who has served in Iraq has their own story.

Each of you has your own story.

And that story is now a part of the history of the United States

of America -- a nation that exists only because free men and

women have bled for it, from the beaches of Normandy to the

deserts of Anbar; from the mountains of Korea to the

streets of Kandahar.

You teach us that the price of freedom is great.

Your sacrifice should challenge all of us -- every single

American -- to ask what we can do to be better citizens.

There will be more danger in the months ahead.

We will face new tests and unforeseen trials.

But thanks to the sacrifices of those who have served, we have

forged hard-earned progress, we are leaving Iraq to its people,

and we have begun the work of ending this war.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of

America.

Semper Fi.

Ooh-rah (Applause.)

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