Embolden the terrorists

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The phrase embolden the terrorists—as has taking the fight to the terrorists—has frequently been employed by President George W. Bush, members of the Bush administration, and others in their support of the war in Iraq and use of fear as a political tool.

At the June 19, 2006, President's Dinner, a GOP fundraiser, Bush said that an "early withdrawal would be a defeat for the United States of America. An early withdrawal would embolden the terrorists. Talk about a deadline before we've done the job sends chills throughout the spines of Iraqi citizens who are wondering whether or not the United States has the capacity to keep its word. ... An early withdrawal would embolden al Qaeda and bin Laden. An early withdrawal, before we completed the missions, would say to the United States military, your sacrifices have gone to vain. There will be no early withdrawal so long as we run the Congress and occupy the White House." [1]


Stay the course in Iraq

  • "The United States will complete our work in Iraq. Leaving Iraq prematurely would only embolden the terrorists and increase the danger to America. We are determined to stay, to fight and to win."—George W. Bush in his November 1, 2003, radio address to the nation. [2]
  • "Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror, and we must understand that as well. ... The return of tyranny to Iraq would be an unprecedented terrorist victory and a cause for killers to rejoice. It would also embolden the terrorists, leading to more bombings, more beheadings and more murders of the innocent around the world."—George W. Bush, Army War College, May 24, 2004. [3]
  • "The outcome of the battle in Iraq will have ramifications that extend far beyond that country's borders. If democracy does not prevail in Iraq, it would embolden the terrorists and vindicate Osama bin Laden's offensive allegation that 'we have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier...' ... Instability would spread throughout the Middle East. Iraq would become a new base of operations for Al Qaeda and new impetus for Osama bin Laden's drive to replace the Saudi royal family and build a larger Islamic empire around it."—Remarks by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), Symposium Sponsored by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Committee on the Present Danger, June 16, 2004. [4][5]
  • "We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out."—George W. Bush, State of the Union address, February 2, 2005. [6]
  • "'We'll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq, ... An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations.'"—George W. Bush, speech to the Idaho National Guard, August 24, 2005. [7]
  • "The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder: 'Maybe all we have to do is wait and we'll win. We can't win militarily.' They know that. The battle is here in the United States."—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Fox News Sunday, November 20, 2005. [8]
"Iraq is part of a larger plan of imposing Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East, making Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations," Cheney said. "In light of the commitments our country has made, and given the stated intentions of the enemy, those who advocate a sudden withdrawal from Iraq should answer a few simple questions: Would the United States and other free nations be better off or worse off with [Abu Musab] Zarqawi, [Osama] bin Laden and [Ayman] Zawahiri in control of Iraq? Would we be safer or less safe with Iraq ruled by men intent on the destruction of our country?"
  • "'Now, when so much progress is being made, is no time to turn tail and leave Iraq, ... It is a dangerous illusion to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone,' he said. In fact, such a move would only embolden the terrorists, he said. ... 'A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for the terrorists, an invitation to further the violence against free nations and a terrible blow to the future security of the United States of America."—Vice President Dick Cheney, November 21, 2005. [9]
  • Following his Thanksgiving 2004 visit to Iraq, Sen. Lieberman wrote in the Wall Street Journal that withdrawal from Iraq "would be too risky for both the United States and Iraq." Lieberman said Bush needed "to stress to America that the strategy he is pursuing has a definable outcome." On November 30, 2005, Bush cited Lieberman's observations, "saying setting an 'artificial timetable' would discourage U.S. troops, confuse the Iraqi people and embolden the terrorists." [10]
  • "... setting an artificial deadline would send the wrong message to the enemy. It would tell them that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run. It would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder. It would embolden the terrorists and invite new attacks on America."—George W. Bush, December 14, 2005. [11]
  • "... an American military retreat from Iraq would cheer and embolden the terrorists ... 'It sends the wrong signal to the enemy,' [Bush] said, noting terrorists in Iraq, which include al Qaeda operatives, would then believe they could repeat their tactics and simply wait out any U.S. military campaign mounted against them."—George W. Bush, December 19, 2005. [12]
  • In May 2006, U.S. House of Representatives Amendment 38 to House Report 109-175 stated that ... "such calls for an early withdrawal embolden the terrorists and undermine the morale of the United States Armed Forces, coalition forces, and Iraqi forces, and put their security at risk." [14]
  • Following Sen. Joe Lieberman's defeat in the August 8, 2006, Connecticut Democratic primary by anti-war Ned Lamont, "Republicans began a concerted effort to use Mr. Lieberman’s defeat to portray Democrats as weak on national defense, reprising a theme that they made central to the last two national campaigns," Adam Nagourney reported in the August 10, 2006, New York Times. "The attacks came in searing remarks from, among others, Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and Vice President Dick Cheney, who went so far as to suggest that the ouster of Mr. Lieberman might encourage 'al Qaeda types.'"

Failure in Iraq

"... failure is not an option in Iraq. Defeat in Iraq would create a safe haven for terrorists similar to what Afghanistan was before 9/11, only this time on some of the world's most strategic real estate - with vast natural resources available to fund future terrorist attacks. Defeat in Iraq would embolden the terrorists to pursue us, our friends and allies, throughout the region and to our own shores."—Stephen J. Hadley, December 20, 2005. [15]

"Yielding to terror"

"Yielding to terror is the worst response possible as it will only embolden the terrorists."—Edward I. Koch, Jewish World Review, September 9, 2004. [16]

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