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Bush: 'America will never run' in Iraq
( 2003-11-04 10:05) (Agencies)

A day after guerrillas shot down a helicopter in Iraq and killed 16 Americans, U.S. President Bush said Monday that attackers are trying to drive away coalition forces but that "America will never run."

Bush did not mention Sunday's casualties as he addressed a group of small business owners and community leaders at an Alabama factory. However, he spoke of U.S. casualties and said, "Some of the best have fallen in service to our fellow Americans.

"We mourn every loss," the president said. "We honor every name. We grieve with every family. And we will always be grateful that liberty has found such brave defenders."

Sunday's missile attack, which also wounded 20 troops, closed out a week that began with a similarly grim new record. On Oct. 27, three dozen people died in a wave of suicide bombings in Baghdad, the bloodiest day there since Bush declared major combat over May 1.

"The enemy in Iraq believes America will run," the president said. "That's why they're willing to kill innocent civilians, relief workers, coalition troops. America will never run."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a written statement Monday, "The deaths of so many American soldiers in Iraq yesterday are a sad reminder that there is a long road ahead before that country is stable and secure."

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday on CBS's "The Early Show" that the United States must finish the job it started in Iraq.

"If we lose the peace in Iraq that entire part of the world becomes chaos. You have Iran becoming a powerful, powerful force there surrounded by two failed states Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.

Biden criticized the Bush administration's war effort for lacking a "sense of urgency" in securing the peace and said more troops are needed for the job.

The United States, he said, needs to "bring in NATO, bring in other folks and give up some authority. We act like Iraq is some kind of prize that we won."

Speaking Sunday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Americans should view the deadly downing of the Army helicopter as the tragic but inevitable cost of waging a long war.

"In a long, hard war, we're going to have tragic days, as this is," he told ABC's "This Week." "But they're necessary. They're part of a war that's difficult and complicated."

But Democratic presidential hopefuls seized on the downing of the CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter to press the administration to justify the mounting American death toll and to explain its strategy for getting out of Iraq.

"We were misled into this conflict without a real strategy for success," former NATO commander Wesley Clark told The Associated Press.

Two other candidates, Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Edwards, said the United States needs more international help to make Iraq safe.

"We cannot solve this problem alone," Gephardt said on CBS' "Face the Nation." He urged Bush to sit down with foreign leaders, "treat them with respect and ... get the help that we should get from our friends."

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the only candidate who voted against the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq, said in a statement: "This disastrous mission must be ended before any more lives are lost. ... It is time to bring our troops home."

The strike occurred as an ABC News-Washington Post poll, for the first time, found that a majority of people surveyed 51 percent now disapprove of the way Bush is handling postwar Iraq.

Duffy would not describe Bush's reaction to the helicopter crash, but he said those killed "served the highest cause to defend freedom and protect Americans from dangerous new threats before they reach our shores."

Officials said the Chinook was carrying soldiers to Baghdad International Airport, where they were scheduled to catch flights out of the country for two weeks' vacation.

The attack was the single deadliest event of the war for U.S. troops, which began in March and appeared all but over by May 1 when Bush declared the end to major combat operations.

Since then, nearly 240 American troops have died in hostilities in Iraq, mostly in small-scale attacks against troops on the ground.

 
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